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Hamas threatens renewed ‘escalation’ with Israel, slams Egypt over Gaza role

‘We will not allow the current situation to continue,’ source in terror group warns, citing blockade and ‘delay in rehabilitating the Strip’

Fighters in Hamas's military wing take part in a memorial service for a member of the Islamist terror group, in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, November 15, 2021. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Fighters in Hamas's military wing take part in a memorial service for a member of the Islamist terror group, in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, November 15, 2021. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

A senior Hamas source on Monday said his terror group was weighing a renewal of violence against Israel in Gaza, while lashing out at Egypt over its role as mediator between the sides.

“We are considering options for an escalation with Israel in light of the continued siege of Gaza and the delay in rehabilitating the Strip,” the unnamed source told Al Jazeera. “We will not allow the current situation to continue and the next phase will prove the credibility of our words.”

The remarks referred to the Israeli and Egyptian blockades of the Gaza Strip, which Israel says is needed to prevent arms from reaching Palestinian terror groups, and reconstruction in the coastal enclave following the 11-day military conflict in May between Israel and Hamas.

The source warned Israel against “attacks” on Palestinian security prisoners and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, saying they “will again blow up the situation.” The fighting in Gaza earlier this year began after Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem amid tensions over the holy city.

Turning to Egypt, the Hamas source accused Cairo of not honoring pledges to Hamas and other Palestinian factions concerning reconstruction and aid for Gaza.

The source also charged that Egypt was preventing many Palestinians from leaving Gaza via the Rafah border crossing.

“The behavior of Egypt violates its promise to compel Israel in exchange for the resistance’s commitment to calm,” the source said.

A Hamas police officer stands guards at the main square in front of large portraits of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, while Hamas leaders meet with Egypt’s intelligence chief Abbas Kamel, unseen, in Gaza City, May 31, 2021. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

The Hamas warning came as Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was set to visit Cairo for talks with senior Egyptian officials that are expected to largely focus on Gaza.

Israel and Hamas have been holding indirect negotiations, moderated by Egypt, on stabilizing the fragile ceasefire since the battle between them in May. Israel has vowed not to allow a full reconstruction of Gaza without a prisoner swap between the two sides.

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