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Hamas Threatens to Make Israel 'Suffer'

Senior Hamas official threatens retaliation in 'self-defense' against crackdown, indicates transfer of power over Gaza to Fatah.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 6/22/2014, 10:46 AM / Last Update: 6/22/2014, 2:57 PM

Hamas terrorists in Gaza
Hamas terrorists in Gaza
Flash 90

A senior Hamas official threatened "settlers" in Judea and Samaria on Sunday, noting that the terrorist organization "is not looking" for an escalation with Israel, but still will respond if Israel attacks. 

"We suffer from settlers, and you will suffer too," the official told IDF Radio

The official also claimed that Hamas is "not responsible" for the abduction of three yeshiva students - and that Israel has "no idea" who the terrorists are. 

"You have no idea who did this; people have been saying it in your media also," the official said. "How can you slander [Mahmoud Abbas] all you want, and then suddenly this kidnapping happens and you ask for his help?" 

The statement follows both an upswing in violence near Gaza - as rockets have been regularly pouring in since the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers last week - and a wide-scale crackdown on Hamas, which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has named responsible for the abduction. 

Earlier Sunday, a terrorist was apprehended in the Eshkol region near the Gaza security fence, armed with a grenade he apparently intended to launch into either Yated or Sde Avraham. 

The attack surfaced within hours of an announcement that over 350 terrorists, mostly from Hamas, had been arrested across the Palestinian Authority (PA) and in Hevron since last week. 

Who controls Gaza?

The official also clarified that while Hamas has agreed to give up control over Gaza to the PA - and to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas - it would refuse to sit on the "unity government" cabinet if control were transferred. 

The Hamas-Fatah unity agreement, announced in April, aimed to bring an end to the longstanding feud between Fatah and Hamas, which began in 2007 when Hamas took control of Gaza in a bloody coup and started cracking down on Fatah officials living in the territory.

About 400 people were estimated to have been killed during the clashes, although the data stems from Gaza-based "human rights" groups. 

Hamas and Fatah have shown a limited degree of tolerance for each other, as each released and pardoned their political prisoners in a surprise move in early May. 

However, tensions continued to boil under the surface even after the unity agreement. Earlier this month, Hamas bank workers broke out in fistfights with Fatah co-workers in Hevron over salary disparities; in addition, Fatah arrested over 100 Hamas rioters in Hevron, and Hamas arrested at least one senior Fatah member in Gaza.