Hamas vows revenge in ‘coming days’ for deaths of its fighters
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Hamas vows revenge in ‘coming days’ for deaths of its fighters

After Israel retaliates for rocket fire from Gaza, killing two operatives, Qassam Brigades chief says 'enemy will pay'; terror group has been urging a violent new intifada

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Abu Ubaida, spokesman of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, speaks during a memorial in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on January 31, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90)
Abu Ubaida, spokesman of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, speaks during a memorial in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on January 31, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90)

The military wing of the Hamas terror group on Sunday threatened to avenge the deaths of two of its fighters killed in retaliatory Israeli airstrikes after rocket fire from Gaza.

On Friday the Israeli Air Force hit a Hamas training facility and a weapons depot belonging to the terror group, after terrorists in Gaza fired several rockets into Israel on Thursday and Friday. At least one rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome system, one landed in a kindergarten in the town of Sderot, without causing injuries, and another landed in a Sderot street.

Hamas on Thursday had called for a new intifada against Israel, on Friday urged Palestinians to confront soldiers and settlers, and has allowed thousands of Gazans to confront Israeli troops at the Gaza border fence in recent days. Its leader Ismail Haniyeh on Friday praised the “blessed intifada,” urged the liberation of Jerusalem, and made plain the group was seeking to intensify violence against Israel.

The Israeli strikes killed two members of Hamas, Mahmud al-Atal, 28, and Mohammed al-Safadi, 30, and wounded 14 others, among them women and children, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said.

“The enemy will pay the price for breaking the rules of engagement with the resistance in Gaza,” the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement.

Members of the Hamas terror group’s military wing carry the body of their comrade Mohamed al-Safadi, who was killed the previous day in an Israeli air strike after rockets was fired from Gaza into Israel, during his funeral in Gaza City on December 9, 2017. ( AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

“The coming days will prove to the enemy the great error and misjudgment of the will and determination of the resistance,” the statement added.

A previously unknown Salafist group calling itself the Salahedin Brigades claimed responsibility for one of the rocket attacks, but Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks against the Jewish state emanating from Gaza.

The statement from the terror group did not explicitly reference an attack tunnel extending into Israeli territory destroyed over the weekend by the military. The IDF said the passage began in the Gazan city of Khan Younis and extended “hundreds of meters” inside Israeli territory. The Qassam Brigades statement did, however, reference the terror group’s attempts to attack Israeli via tunnels.

“The battle for Jerusalem continues hour by hour above- and below-ground, and thousands of jihadist fighters are working and preparing at this moment in the darkest conditions, equipped for the battle to liberate Jerusalem,” the statement said.

A Hamas attack tunnel that entered Israeli territory, which was destroyed by the IDF on December 10, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)

“This is evidenced by the death of two Qassami, martyrs Mohammed Safadi and Mahmoud al-Atal, who died… while carrying out their duties in one of the places of preparation,” the statement added.

The Qassam Brigades repeated the calls from Hamas’s political leadership for a new intifada in response to US President Donald Trump’s decision Wednesday night to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“The brigades salute the angry masses struggling for Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque and call them to continue the intifada by all means of resistance,” the terror group said.

Hamas, an Islamist terror group that seized control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in 2007, is committed to destroying Israel.

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