Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar issued a warning over the weekend, saying if there is a war between Israel and Gaza, Tel Aviv and other Jewish communities on the southern border will be evacuated.
“If the Gaza Strip is dragged into war, Israel will suffer. It will not only have to evacuate the communities around the Strip but also [the cities of] Ashdod and Ashkelon and even Tel Aviv,” Sinwar said, according to a report from Al-Aqsa TV.
“Our fingers are on the trigger and they will remain pressed against it in order to protect our people. We will be the sword and shield,” he added.
Sinwar, who was speaking to representatives of Palestinian groups and other organizations, said they are ready for war with Israel to “defend the Palestinian people.”
Sinwar also said he was grateful to Egypt for helping to mediate a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel on March 22. For weeks, Hamas and Israel have been firing rockets at each other.
“We have strengthened our relations with Egypt,” Sinwar said of the ceasefire. “The Egyptians have thankfully played a big role in the easing of the restrictions.”
Still, on Friday, more than 10,000 Gazans protested along the border as part of the March of Return.
“The understandings are not an alternative to Palestinian unity and partnership,” Sinwar said of the protests. “There is no talk about the Palestinian right to resistance in all its forms, especially in the West Bank. Also, there is no talk about halting the March of Return.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has himself warned Hamas against any more attacks.
“We will do what is necessary to defend our people and to defend our state," Netyanhu said while addressing the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington D.C. last month.
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