Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians on Monday warned residents of the Gaza Strip that the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group was actively trying to ignite a fresh war in the region.
In an Arabic-language statement, Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun — known formally as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories — told Gazans they would bear the brunt of the suffering if another round of fighting broke out.
“Hostile elements near and far, attempting to ignite a war, are dragging you into violence and destroying the stability and security of your home,” Abu Rukun said according to an English translation provided by his office.
“Islamic Jihad, in the service of Iran, is causing destabilization again and again and harming the security of the area,” he said. “You are the ones who will suffer the consequences.”
Since the start of August, an uptick in rocket fire and attempts by Palestinian gunmen to cross from Gaza into Israel have been met with IDF airstrikes on Hamas military targets, threatening a fragile ceasefire between Israel and the ruling terror group.
On Sunday night, three rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel, causing some damage but no injuries. The rockets prompted reprisal Israeli strikes, and on Monday, COGAT announced it had reduced fuel shipments to the Gaza Strip’s sole power plant.
COGAT said the downsizing of the shipments was ordered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also defense minister.
“Israel will defend its citizens, regardless of what your leaders and their allies may do,” Abu Rukun added. “Apparently the organizations in Gaza prioritize the interests of Iran over your own interests.”
The rocket attack came amid heightened tensions throughout the Middle East, as Israel squared off against Iran and its proxies in multiple countries.
Tehran provides tens of millions of dollars each year to terror groups in the Gaza Strip, mainly to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas, which rules the enclave.
Hamas has denied it directed the latest rocket fire.
“Hamas announces its operations, and this isn’t what happened yesterday. These are excuses to continue the aggression against Gaza,” spokesman Hazem Qassim was quoted saying Monday by the Kan public broadcaster.
Israel says it holds the terror group that rules Gaza responsible for all attacks emanating from the territory. After rockets were fired at southern Israel last Wednesday and Thursday night, the IDF blamed Islamic Jihad for the attacks and called for Hamas to rein in the terror group.
On Friday, Qatari envoy Mohammed Al-Emadi entered Gaza, carrying his latest delivery of cash from Doha as part of an unofficial ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas. Distribution of the funds began Sunday morning.
The payments are part of a wider agreement brokered by UN and Egyptian officials to end several violent flareups in recent months between Israel and Hamas, which have fought three wars since 2008, and to help stabilize the territory and prevent a humanitarian collapse.
AFP and Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.