Hamas Chief: Israel Can Expect More Violence if 'Aggression' at Al-Aqsa Continues

'In the occupied territories there will be more than 10,000 martyrs if Israel attempts to harm the Al-Aqsa Mosque,' Yahya Sinwar says at a press conference in Gaza

Jack Khoury
Reuters
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Yahya Sinwar, Palestinian leader of Hamas in Gaza, May 2021.
Yahya Sinwar, Palestinian leader of Hamas in Gaza, May 2021.Credit: John Minchillo / AP
Jack Khoury
Reuters

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar threatened on Wednesday that his organization would react if Israel continued its "aggression toward Al-Aqsa," less than a week after a cease-fire ended 11-days of cross-border violence between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

"The enemy needs to know that everything that has happened so far was a small military drill compared to what will happen if the aggression against the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex continues," Sinwar said during a press conference, his first speech in Gaza since the fighting between Israel and Hamas this month. "In the occupied territories [Israel and the West Bank] there will be more than 10,000 martyrs if Israel attempts to harm the Al-Aqsa Mosque."

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"We had the last word in the round of fire and with the missile fire against Israeli aggression against Al-Aqsa. Opposition forces have the power to launch hundreds of rockets in a minute, with a range of 100 to 200 kilometers," Sinwar added.

Sinwar also said that Hamas' missile firing capabilities are still intact and that Israel's political instability is preventing a prisoner-swap deal.

“What we saw in May 2021 was unprecedented, and we are at the peak of our preparedness to protect the Al-Aqsa mosque. We did not come to an agreement on the cease-fire, rather we paused and will see where things go. It’s not our job to translate the military victory into a diplomatic one. It’s the job of the international community to make diplomatic strides for the Palestinian people before it all blows up again,” Sinwar said.

Commenting on Israel’s attempts to kill large numbers of Hamas fighters by luring them into underground tunnels ahead of a strike, Sinwar said “Our intelligence branch knew about the Israeli plan and exposed their scheme and kept our fighters from going underground.”

Sinwar said that Hamas remains in close contact with Hezbollah in Lebanon, and that demonstrations along the Gaza border will resume soon, with the protection of Hamas' military wing. 

Hamas militant in the Gaza Strip, May 2021.Credit: AP Photo/John Minchillo

The Hamas chief also welcomed Arab and international efforts to rebuild the enclave.

"We will ease and facilitate the task for everyone and we will make sure that the process will be transparent and fair and we will make sure that no penny goes to Hamas or Qassam (Hamas armed wing)," Sinwar told a press conference.

"We have satisfactory sources of money for Hamas and Qassam. A major part of it from Iran and part in donations from Arab, Muslims and liberals of the world who are sympathetic to our people and their rights," he added.

Meanwhile U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met top officials in Cairo on Wednesday during a Middle East tour aimed at shoring up the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. 

Blinken said on Tuesday that the U.S. intended to ensure that Hamas, which controls Gaza and is listed by Washington as a terrorist organization, did not benefit from the humanitarian aid.

Washington will transfer $38 million in humanitarian aid to Gaza and the West Bank as well as some $75 million in aid earmarked for economic development. 

This comes on top of the $250 million in U.S. aid for the Palestinians, which was announced by the Biden administration in March.

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