The head of Hamas' armed wing warned Israel on Saturday against launching any new military action in the Gaza Strip, accusing Israel of attempting to escalate the situation. The statement came after days of renewed rocket fire on Israeli communities and Israel Defense Forces strikes in Gaza.
Hamas would not rest until Israel was ousted from Palestine, said Ahmed al-Jabari, leader of the Izz a-din al-Qassam Brigades, adding that Israel had two options – to leave Palestinian territories or face death. He said that Hamas resistance would continue as long as Zionists remained in Palestine.
Also Saturday, Al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida warned Israel to refrain from any further aggression in the Gaza Strip, at a news conference in Gaza to mark the second anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, a three-week IDF incursion aimed at halting rocket fire on Israel's southern communities from the strip.
"We are now stronger than before and during the war, and our silence over the past two years was only for evaluating the situation," Abu Obeida told the news conference. "We won't face the current attempts of the enemy to escalate the situation with silence."
Abu Obeida said that the news conference was being held to mark the second anniversary of the Gaza war, and the 23rd anniversary of the founding of Hamas.
Israel Air Force warplanes carried out three airstrikes late Friday against targets in the Gaza Strip. Israeli F-16s flying over the coastal enclave fired two missiles at suspected smuggling tunnels on the border between southern Gaza and Egypt. No injuries were reported, witnesses said.
An IDF spokesman confirmed the three air raids, saying the strikes were in response to a homemade rocket fired earlier Friday by Gaza militant groups at southern Israel.
Earlier Friday, a Hamas official said that the organization was committed to the unofficial ceasefire with Israel reached after Operation Cast Lead in 2008, despite the recent rise in violence.
But rocket and mortar fire from Gaza have increased in the run-up to the second anniversary of Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip, which began on December 27, 2008 and lasted for three weeks.
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