Chinese media is reporting on statements by the Hamas military wing that it is preparing and equipping itself for a larger war with Israel using the current conflict over the Al-Aqsa Mosque as a raison d’etre. According to the Xinhua report:
November 11, 2104 Al-Qassam Brigades, Islamic Hamas movement armed wing, said on Wednesday that it prepares and equips itself for another bigger gun-battle with Israel.
‘We prepare and equip for a bigger victory than the victory in the last battle through out an upcoming battle that will be the toughest and the hardest in the history of the Zionist enemy,’ the group said in an emailed press statement.
On July 8, Israel waged a large-scale air and ground military operation on the Gaza Strip and its Hamas-led militant groups, which lasted for 50 days and left 2,150 Palestinians and 70 Israelis dead and more than 11,000 wounded.
‘The enemy will pay a heavy price for its criminal practices which aim at Judaizing Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque in the occupied city of Jerusalem,’ said Hamas’ armed wing.
Read the rest here.
Meanwhile, it would appear that Hamas has been doing more than simply preparing for war but also attempting to provoke it. Islamist media is reporting that Hamas had said that the Palestinian motorist who ran over group of Israeli pedestrians in East Jerusalem, killing one and injuring others, was a member of Hamas and the brother of a Palestinian released by Israel as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap deal in 2011:
Palestinian faction Hamas on Wednesday said that a Palestinian motorist who ran over a group of Israeli pedestrians in East Jerusalem earlier in the day – killing one and injuring others – had been a member of the group.
The Palestinian faction added in a statement that the motorist who ran over Israeli pedestrians in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood was group member Ibrahim al-Akari.
Hamas did not say, however, whether it had ordered al-Akari – who was shot and killed by Israeli police in the immediate aftermath of the incident – to carry out the attack or whether he had carried it out on his own initiative.
“Al-Akari, whose blood was shed in Jerusalem, rose up for his people, his city, Jerusalem, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Hamas said in the statement.
It added that al-Akari was the brother of a Palestinian released by Israel as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap deal in 2011. The group said the slain driver’s brother had been expelled by Israeli authorities to Turkey.
Hamas’ armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, meanwhile, lauded the operation carried out by al-Akari.
“We salute all of Hamas’ mujahedeen and the heroes of Jerusalem who sacrifice their blood on its doorsteps,” Qassam spokesman Abu Ubaidah said on Twitter.
Although, as the report indicates, Hamas did not say whether it has ordered the attack, the GMBDW reported last month that Hamas political leader Khalid Meshaal had acknowledged that Hamas field operatives have free reign to plan and execute operations with the blessing of the leadership.
For a profile of Hamas, go here.