GAZA CITY: Israel, early on Tuesday, bombed a site belonging to Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, in the southern Gaza Strip, in response to the firing of a shell by one of the Palestinian factions toward an Israeli town, adjacent to the Gaza Strip.
There was no material damage or any injury, said Palestinian and Israeli sources, but they warned that an escalation might be imminent.
The missile was fired from Gaza after several months following threats by the Palestinian factions in light of the Israeli attacks in Jerusalem and the cities of the West Bank, especially Jenin.
The situation has escalated in the northern West Bank and Jerusalem since the start of Ramadan after Palestinian shooting attacks in Israeli cities that caused several deaths and injuries.
Hamas has warned Israel that its continued violations at Al-Aqsa Mosque may lead to an escalation on several fronts, while Ziad Al-Nakhala, Islamic Jihad’s secretary-general, who resides in Beirut and is backed by Iran, has threatened to confront Israel if the attacks do not stop.
“The (Israeli) occupation’s threats to stop the facilities for Gaza cannot make us remain silent about what is happening in Jerusalem and the West Bank,” said Al-Nakhala.
Hazem Qassem, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said after the Israeli bombardment: “The confrontation, which is a natural reaction of our people and their resistance against the usurping occupation, continues on all axes of conflict in Jerusalem, Gaza, the West Bank and the occupied territories. The Zionist bombing of some empty sites is a failed attempt to prevent our Palestinian people from defending the city of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Local news websites quoted Islamic Jihad sources as giving Israel a deadline until Wednesday evening to stop the attacks at Al-Aqsa before the militant group returns to a confrontation from Gaza.
Last year, clashes erupted at the end of Ramadan following a flag march by Israeli settlement associations in Jerusalem.
This year, the Israeli authorities have rejected a request for a similar rally on Wednesday fearing an escalation, according to the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.
The march is organized to celebrate Israel’s declaration of Jerusalem as its unified capital following its occupation and annexation in 1967.
Thousands of people participate in it and reach Jerusalem, passing along and within the walls of the old city, the main market, and the Islamic district.
Egypt has been mediating between Hamas and Islamic Jihad on one hand and Israel on the other, in order to prevent the possibility of escalation in the Gaza Strip following the events in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
“The efforts of mediators are focused on searching for exits and preventing the outbreak of a new war in Gaza,” said Zaher Jabarin, a member of the Hamas political bureau.
“We have many means to pressure the occupation, and opening a new front in Gaza is one of the options, which has not been taken off the table,” he added.
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Mustafa Ibrahim, writer and political analyst, said: “So far, the Israeli reaction has not gone out of control. There are calculated and customary responses.
“Hamas has its own considerations regarding a wide escalation. It is focusing on the West Bank confrontation as Gaza has not yet been reconstructed since the last war and the Hamas military capabilities have not been restored despite all the statements made in this regard,” Ibrahim told Arab News.