In a video published on its website on Friday, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades warned Israel against any ground invasion of the Gaza Strip while showing off its military preparedness.
“Your destiny is death if you step into Gaza,” al-Qassam said. “Any ground attack on Gaza gives us the opportunity to kill more enemies and take them as captives.”
It came amid soaring tensions in Palestine over the killing of veteran Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was fatally shot by Israeli troops on Wednesday as she was covering an army raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.
On Friday, Israeli forces attacked mourners during Abu Akleh’s funeral in the occupied East al-Quds, where they seized Palestinian flags and later smashed the window of the hearse carrying Abu Akleh’s body and removed a Palestinian flag.
Israeli raids on the Jenin refugee camp are not rare. Earlier on Friday, Israeli troops stormed the camp again and injured several people, triggering violent confrontations with local residents.
Jenin will emerge victorious: Hamas
Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif al-Qanoa praised the strong will of Jenin’s resistance fighters over their ongoing fight against Israeli occupation forces amid their atrocities against the residents.
“Jenin is still fighting and bravely resisting the occupation,” al-Qanoa said. “It will never be broken and will be victorious.”
He stressed that a comprehensive intifada (uprising) against the occupying regime is inevitable to stop its aggression.
Khaled Meshaal, the head of Hamas’ political bureau abroad, also lauded the Palestinian resistance in the occupied West Bank, particularly in the Jenin refugee camp, which he called “a habitat of heroism and resistance.”
Meshaal called for greater Palestinian unity to put an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, saying “our people are capable of defeating the occupation and purifying our land.”
“The only solution is through resistance, mobilizing the Palestinian people based on this program, and placing the occupation in an isolated and pariah situation to force it to leave,” he added.
The top Hamas leader also slammed the Israeli army’s attack on Abu Akleh’s funeral as an “ugly, barbaric act” that exposes the “weakness and emptiness” of the regime in Tel Aviv.
He added that Israel must be pursued in all international forums and arenas, including the International Criminal Court (ICC), so as to expose its crimes against the Palestinian people.
Israelis ‘pushing for open conflict’
In the meantime, another Hamas spokesperson, Hazem Qasem, warned radical Israeli settlers against storming the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Sunday, which marks the anniversary of Nakba Day, otherwise known as the Palestinian Catastrophe.
Qasem said calls by radical “Temple Mount” groups to storm the holy site constitute a “grave escalation” aimed at “provoking the feelings of the Palestinian people and the Arab and Muslim world.”
He warned that the radical Israeli groups are “pushing for an open conflict” and the Israeli regime will bear full responsibility for the repercussions of any ensuing conflict.
“The repeated raids into the al-Aqsa compound are nothing more than a desperate attempt that will not succeed in imposing a new fait accompli [or] change the historical fact that the mosque is a Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim site,” he stressed.
“We call on Palestinian citizens of al-Quds, the West Bank, and the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948 to visit al-Aqsa Mosque in order to foil malicious Israeli schemes against the holy Muslim site,” the Hamas spokesman added.
Palestinians mark Nakba Day on May 15, the day after the Gregorian calendar date when Israel proclaimed its illegal existence, to condemn the Israeli regime’s atrocities since the regime’s inception and garner support for their cause.
This year, the event will come at a time of intensified Israeli violence against Palestinians in both the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.