A senior Hamas official has urged members of the Palestinian diaspora to kill Jews around the world.
Fathi Hammad, a member of Hamas’s politburo who is considered a hard-liner and is known for his fiery rhetoric, made the statement in a speech at a protest in the border region between the Gaza Strip and Israel on Friday.
“Our patience has run out. We are on the verge of exploding. If this siege is not undone, we will explode in the face of our enemies, with God’s permission and glory. The explosion is not only going to be in Gaza but also in the [West] Bank and abroad, if God wills,” Hammad said, referring to significant Israeli restrictions on the movement of people and goods between Israel and Gaza.
“But our brothers [in the diaspora] are still preparing. They are trying to prepare. They are warming up. A long time has passed with them warming up. All of you 7 million Palestinians abroad, enough of the warming up. You have Jews everywhere and we must attack every Jew on the globe by way of slaughter and killing, if God permits. Enough of the warming up,” he added.
Israel has said that it maintains the restrictions on movement into and out of Gaza to prevent Hamas, an Islamist terror group sworn to Israel’s destruction, and other terror groups from importing weaponry.
A Hamas official in Gaza tried to distance the terror group from Hammad’s comments, insisting that they do not represent its official position.
“These are personal statements that do not represent Hamas. They are no more than emotional comments that he may have said because of the killing of one of our members,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the Israeli press, told The Times of Israel. “Our problem is not with the Jews, but rather the occupation and the Zionist movement that is occupying Palestine.”
On Thursday, according to the Israel Defense Forces, Israeli soldiers apparently misidentified a Hamas operative for an armed terrorist in the border region between Gaza and Israel and shot him dead.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Arabic-language spokesman, Ofir Gendelman, tweeted Sunday that Israel would “use [Hammad’s comments] to gather support for us and reveal Hamas’s true face. Thanks Fathi!”
Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director for Human Rights Watch, slammed Hammad for the comments, describing them as “absolutely vile.”
“Calls to kill based on one’s religion have no place in a freedom movement & should be relegated to the dustbin of history,” Shakir tweeted on Sunday.
A number of Palestinian social media users including Ahmad Abu Artema, an activist in Gaza, also lashed out at Hammad’s comments.
“Our enemy is the occupation and not Jews. There are many Jews supportive of what is right and just in the world,” he said in a Facebook post on Saturday.
In his speech, Hammad also appeared to call on Palestinians in the West Bank to stab Israelis.
“O, the people of the West Bank, until when will you be quiet?” he said. “We want knives to come out. Five shekels. How much does the neck of a Jew cost? Five shekels or less?”
Hamas officials have frequently encouraged and praised stabbing, shooting and ramming attacks in the West Bank and Israel.
In the past year, Hammad has made a number of incendiary comments against Israel.
In late July 2018, for example, he called on Muslims to kill Zionist Jews.
“O Muslims, wherever you find a Zionist Jew, you must kill him because that is an expression of your solidarity with the al-Aqsa Mosque and an expression of your solidarity with… your Jerusalem, your Palestine and… your people,” he said at the time in a speech at a funeral at the Great Omari Mosque in Gaza City.
Hammad also claimed on Friday that Hamas has established a factory to produce explosive belts, and threatened that if Israel did not end its restrictions on movement, “You will be killed by our belts.”
He warned the Palestinians could enter Israeli territory through the fence between Gaza and Israel wearing the belts.
Hamas and Israel have agreed to unofficial ceasefires multiple times over the past year, but the former has frequently accused the latter of not implementing their clauses. Gaza-based officials have said the ceasefires entail terror groups in Gaza halting violence in the border area in exchange for Israel relaxing its restrictions on movement.