Bracing for escalation: Hamas leader in Gaza convenes meeting to discuss response to ‘offensive Zionist threats’
Palestinian factions in Gaza monitor security clashes in West Bank, call to defend al-Aqsa and prepare for potential escalation
Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, met with representatives of different Palestinian factions to discuss responses to rising tensions in the West Bank.
The organizations on Wednesday agreed to establish a shared “situation room” for their armed branches in order to monitor ongoing clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians, as they prepare for a potential escalation that will involve the Gaza Strip.
“Palestinian factions will hold ongoing discussions through their shared situation room to monitor developments and make decisions in order to protect the Palestinian people and the holy sites,” the groups said in a statement. “We call on our people in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Israel to pray at al-Aqsa Mosque this coming Friday, and we call on the Palestinian resistance to be alert and ready than ever before to protect the Mosque.”
The statement issued at the end of the meeting did not explicitly call for action against Israel, nor did it place an ultimatum on the Jewish state. But Israeli media outlets reported that convening such a meeting at all, and on behalf of Sinwar, indicates that Hamas is actively exploring the possibility of another round of fighting against Israel.
The meeting addressed what Hamas called “Israel’s offensive measures,” as well as alleged plans by Jewish activists to perform ritual sacrifices on the Temple Mount for the holiday of Passover.
Gaza has been kept calm so far during the latest wave of terror that has hit the country, with attacks emerging from the West Bank or carried out by Arab-Israeli citizens. Hamas has issued several threats against Israel in recent weeks, but those messages mainly aimed to inflame the escalation without Gaza seeking to join the aggressions. Whereas Hamas might have its own interest to keep the quiet in Gaza, the Islamic Jihad may seek the opposite.
Ynet reported that Egypt has been trying to mitigate recent tensions and prevent the escalation in the West Bank from pouring over the Gaza border.