Hamas regards its last major confrontation with Israel, in May 2021, as a success. But does it want another round now, triggered by its smaller, Iran-backed ally-rival?
For more than three days in the wake of Saadi’s arrest, facing what Israeli officials said Friday were “concrete” threats that PIJ was bent on avenging his capture by targeting Israeli civilians and soldiers near the Gaza border, Israel imposed a semi-lockdown on its residents near the Strip, bolstered its troop deployments, and warned Islamic Jihad via Egyptian mediators to stand down.
According to the account given by the IDF Spokesman Ran Kochav in a Channel 12 interview on Friday night, once it became clear that an attack orchestrated by PIJ’s northern Gaza commander Tayseer Jabari was set to go ahead, and once the IDF had compiled the necessary intelligence, a targeted strike was ordered on Jabari in his Gaza City apartment. And other members of his cell, who had intended to “mow down” Israelis near the border, were eliminated too.
As Israel then carried out further strikes on PIJ targets across Gaza, and the terror group fired barrages of projectiles at central and especially southern Israel, PIJ’s commander was being hosted by his funders in Tehran. From the Iranian capital, Ziad Nakhaleh, declared, “We are going into battle. There are no ceasefires after an attack.”
But Nakhaleh does not want PIJ to be fighting alone. “This is a test for all parts of the resistance,” he asserted, in what was plainly a call for Hamas to join in.
Gaza’s rulers offered a distinctly ambivalent response: “The resistance, with all its arms and military factions, is united in this campaign and will have the last word,” it said in a statement.
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