Israel said to warn Gaza terror groups against responding to Soleimani killing

Report says warning relayed to Hamas, Islamic Jihad via Egypt; security cabinet to meet Sunday in wake of heightened threats

A spokesman for the armed wing of Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group talks to the press in the town of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, November 11, 2019. (AP Photo/ Hatem Moussa)
A spokesman for the armed wing of Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group talks to the press in the town of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, November 11, 2019. (AP Photo/ Hatem Moussa)

Israel has reportedly warned the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups against any attempted response from the Gaza Strip to the US targeted killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

The warning was transferred via Egypt, according to a Walla news site report Friday.

Meanwhile, Israel will convene its security cabinet on Sunday in the wake of Iranian threats to avenge Soleimani.

Tehran has threatened both the US and Israel.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, earlier expressed its “sincere condolences” to Iran’s leadership after Soleimani was killed in Baghdad overnight and hailed his support for the “Palestinian resistance,” but did not issue any overt threat.

The Islamist group’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, in the past lauded the “strong, powerful and warm” ties Hamas enjoyed with Soleimani.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani, center, attends a meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Revolutionary Guard commanders in Tehran, Iran, September 18, 2016. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

The Iran-backed Islamic Jihad, which in November fought a two-day battle with Israel after one its military commanders was killed in an Israeli strike, has yet to respond to Soleimani’s killing.

Iran has for years sought to arm the Palestinian terror groups with rockets, mortars and missiles.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a left-wing terror group, said the killing of Soleimani called for “a coordinated, comprehensive and continuous response from resistance forces” against “American and Zionist interests.”

The US strike on Soleimani came amid efforts to broker a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, which have fought three wars since the terror group took control of Gaza in 2007.

Israel’s security cabinet was reported to have convened twice earlier in the week to discuss the proposed ceasefire deal.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with a delegation of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Tehran on Sunday, May 1, 2016. (Khamenei’s Twitter page)

According to Channel 12 news, major progress had been made toward a deal since Israel killed Baha Abu al-Ata, the Islamic Jihad commander.

Abu al-Ata was seen as a major force against coming to a truce with Israel in the Strip, and following his elimination Hamas had proven far more inclined to come to an accord, the network said. Contrary to its usual approach, Hamas had shied away from the combat following the Islamic Jihad terror chief’s killing and Israel, too, had avoided hitting the group.

For over a year now, Egypt has been a key player in brokering informal ceasefire understandings between Israel and terror groups in Gaza, including Hamas.

The understandings have largely entailed Israel lifting restrictions on the movement into and out of Gaza, in exchange for Hamas maintaining relative quiet in the border region between the coastal enclave and the Jewish state.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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