The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups have agreed that they will respond together to any future Israeli “aggression,” Islamic Jihad secretary-general Ziad al-Nakhala asserted on Thursday.
“I affirm that we will respond to any aggression together, God willing. No aggression will come without meeting a response. That is what we agreed to with the brothers in Hamas and the resistance force,” Nakhala said in a televised speech.
Hours after his speech, the Israel Defense Forces said that a projectile was fired from Gaza toward southern Israel — the second in under 24 hours.
During the latest escalation in tensions in November, the Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s military wing, and other smaller terror groups in Gaza fired some 450 rockets and mortars at Israel, which responded with many retaliatory strikes in the coastal enclave.
Unlike in previous rounds of fighting, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, sat on the sidelines.
Shortly after the escalation concluded, Israeli media reported that tensions between Islamic Jihad and Hamas were high because of the latter’s decision to not participate in fighting.
Palestinian news outlets had reported at the time that that young members of senior Al-Quds Brigdes commander Baha Abu al-Ata’s family prevented top Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar from visiting a tent for those mourning Abu al-Ata’s death.
Islamic Jihad official Khaled al-Batsh later apologized to Zahar for the incident.
At the start of the fighting in November, Israel had eliminated Abu al-Ata in a targeted killing. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
Earlier this month, Nakhala and Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh met in Cairo alongside many senior officials in both terror groups. According to a joint statement on December 3 by Islamic Jihad and Hamas, Nakhala and Haniyeh met for five hours and discussed multiple matters related to the Palestinian cause including the escalation in November.
The statement said: “The leaderships of the two movements affirmed the strategic relationship between them.”
Hamas and Islamic Jihad are considered the most and second-most powerful terror groups in Gaza, respectively.
They have fought three major wars with Israel in the past 12 years.