In a rare move, the spokesman for the military wing of Hamas said Thursday that the terror group was directly responsible for a recent string of deadly attacks in Israel and the West Bank.
In a statement on Telegram, Abu Obaida said the terror shooting near the West Bank settlement of Eli on June 20, which left four Israelis dead, was carried out by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades in response to a deadly Israeli military raid in the city of Jenin two days prior.
Initially, Hamas only confirmed that the two gunmen were affiliated with the terror group, without taking responsibility.
Abu Obaida said a car-ramming and stabbing terror attack in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, which left seven Israelis wounded, several of them seriously, was also carried out by the group. The terrorist was initially only identified as a member of Hamas.
Earlier Thursday, the al-Qassam Brigades also claimed responsibility for a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Kedumim, which left an Israeli soldier dead.
Abu Obaida said the attacks in Tel Aviv and Kedumim were carried out in response to a major Israeli operation in Jenin earlier this week, during which at least 12 Palestinian gunmen were killed.
أبو عبيدة: عندما قالت #كتائب_القسام بأن #جنين ليست وحدها كانت تعي ما تقول جيدًا، فجاء ردنا في"عيلي" على يد القساميين مهند شحادة وخالد صباح لتدفيع العدو ثمن عدوانه على جنين الشهر الماضي، وتواصلت الضربات كردٍ سريعٍ على عدوانه على المخيم قبل أيام،#الضفة_تقاوم pic.twitter.com/lQagyLczgf
— محمد ع. خازم – الحساب الثاني (@mohalikhzm) July 6, 2023
“When the al-Qassam Brigades said that Jenin was not alone, it was well aware of what it was saying,” Abu Obaida said in the statement. He said the attacks “reaffirm the readiness of al-Qassam… to respond to aggression on any part of our land and holy sites.”
Hamas’s military wing has rarely issued statements taking responsibility for attacks in recent years, ostensibly to avoid retaliation by Israel, though Jerusalem has often accused it of orchestrating attacks. Generally, even when avowed Hamas members committed attacks, the terror group praised rather than claimed the killings.
Israel has not directly blamed Hamas for the three attacks it claimed on Thursday.
Hamas last claimed a deadly shooting attack outside the West Bank city of Ariel in April 2022.
Notably, the Shin Bet security agency said the assailants who carried out the attacks in Tel Aviv and near Kedumim had no known prior security offenses.
Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have been high across the West Bank for the past year and a half, with the military carrying out near-nightly raids, amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks.
Since the beginning of this year, Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank have killed 25 people, including Thursday’s shooting.
According to a tally by The Times of Israel, 148 West Bank Palestinians have been killed during that time — most of them during clashes with security forces or while carrying out attacks, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under unclear circumstances.