Hamas Slams Tel Aviv Over Gaza Strikes as Bennett Warns Those ‘Pointing Missiles at Israel’ Will Pay
17:36 GMT 02.01.2022 (Updated: 18:11 GMT 02.01.2022)
Israel Defense Force jets, choppers and tanks carried out strikes against a number of targets in Gaza just after midnight on Sunday morning after two rockets were fired from the besieged territory toward Israel’s Mediterranean coast. The IDF blames Hamas for the rocket launches. The Gaza-based militants have not claimed responsibility.
Hamas blasted Israel on Sunday for its “new aggression” against Palestinians in the form of Sunday morning’s airstrikes.
“The enemy’s targeting of some Gaza areas and its agricultural lands tonight is new aggression added to the occupation’s record of crimes against our Palestinian people,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said
in a statement.
“Our resistance will continue its duty to defend our Palestinian people and liberate our land and our holy sites from the occupation and its colonial settlers, until achieving the inevitable triumph,” the spokesman added.
Qassem saluted “the honourable resistance who repelled the enemy’s raid” and praised the “steadfast Palestinian people on the frontline with the occupier in the prisons of the occupation, Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Negev and the Gaza Strip.”
25 December 2021, 22:00 GMT
Neither Hamas nor Islamic Jihad – the other major Palestinian militant group operating in Gaza - has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s twin rocket launch in Israel’s direction. Israeli officials have alleged
that Islamic Jihad was responsible, but the IDF maintains that “Hamas is responsible and bears the consequences for all activity in and emanating from the Gaza Strip.”
Hamas-affiliated news website Paltimes reported that Saturday’s rocket launch may have been an accident, with militants blaming “weather conditions” for the possible unintentional takeoff
. Hamas negotiators also reportedly asked Egyptian mediators to inform Israel that the militant group was not responsible.
Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Sunday’s strikes targeted a Hamas rocket manufacturing complex in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, and militant positions on the border with Israel. He dismissed Hamas’s denial of responsibility.
“I want to make something clear: all of Hamas’ stories about lightning and thunder, that repeat themselves winter after winter, are no longer relevant. Those who aim missiles toward the State of Israel will bear the responsibility,” Bennett said in a Sunday broadcast.
Security cabinet member and justice minister Gideon Sa’ar told Army Radio that Sunday’s strikes were “proportionate” and part of the “far tougher” policy against Hamas adopted by the Bennett government compared with that of its predecessor.
Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system was not activated during Saturday’s twin Gaza rocket launch, with the military confirming that the rockets were not aimed at populated areas and splashed down in the Mediterranean. Israeli police say no injuries or damage was caused by the rockets.
Medical officials in Gaza have yet to report on any damage caused by the Israeli attacks. Hamas Radio indicated there were no casualties to report after several of the group’s outposts and a training camp were hit by IDF aircraft and tanks.
Aqsa TV has reported Hamas fired two Soviet-designed Strela-2 shoulder-fired surface to air missiles at Israeli choppers over Gaza’s western coast during an assault. The IDF has confirmed that its helicopters were fired on, but said the missiles missed their targets.
Hamas warned negotiators from Egypt that the militants would retaliate should Israel launch any attacks on Gaza. The Egyptian side warned on Sunday against a further escalation after failing to convince Tel Aviv not to strike, with an unnamed negotiator telling media
that “neither side wants a full-blown war”.
Negotiators from Egypt helped to broke a fragile ceasefire after the 11-day May 2021 war between Hamas and Israel. That conflict, sparked by the Israeli Supreme Court’s expected ruling to evict six Palestinian families from an East Jerusalem neighbourhood, prompted Gaza militias to fire more than 3,700 rockets into southern and central Israel, with Tel Aviv responding with hundreds of air and missile strikes into the strip. A dozen Israelis and at least 230 Palestinians were killed in the conflict, with more than 100 Israelis and in excess of 3,000 Palestinians injured. Human Rights Watch accused “both sides” of war crimes by targeting civilian areas.
19 November 2021, 12:47 GMT
The weekend’s flare-up follows warnings by Gaza militants in recent days that they would respond to Israel’s detention without trial of hunger-striking Palestinians accused by Tel Aviv of plotting attacks. Islamic Jihad recently warned that it would retaliate should Hisham Abu Hawash, a Palestinian held by Israeli security services since October 2020, die in prison after going without food for more than 130 days. The West Bank’s Palestinian Authority has also condemned Hawash’s detention and demanded his “immediate” release.