Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned on Tuesday that despite the reconciliation agreement it reached with the Fatah movement, Hamas is preparing for its next confrontation with Israel.
"Hamas signed the reconciliation pact from a position of disadvantage. It has no better alternative,” Ya’alon said during a meeting with soldiers from the IDF’s Gaza Division.
“But make no mistake: Hamas is preparing itself for a confrontation with Israel, training forces and storing missiles and rockets,” he continued. “It already has thousands of missiles and rockets pointed towards Israel.”
“Even though it currently looks as though Hamas has no interest in confronting us, we need to be prepared for any development,” said Ya’alon. “We are taking a very clear policy: quiet is being answered by quiet, and firing is being answered by a harsh response on our part.”
"We will not allow any element to hurt the daily lives of the residents of the south or IDF forces,” he declared.
The comments come days after the new Hamas-Fatah unity government was sworn in. This was followed by announcements from the European Union, the United States and the United Nations, which said they were open to working with the new unity government despite the inclusion of Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization.
Ya’alon expressed doubts last week that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas would be able to disarm Hamas and take control of Gaza, despite the much-vaunted PLO/Fatah-Hamas reconciliation.
“Abu Mazen will not rule Gaza,” he said, adding, "If he reconciled with Hamas, we demand that he control the [Gaza] Strip and disarm Hamas. If he does not do this, the reconciliation is a false display, meant to trick the world.”