Hamas Denies it Will Resume Rockets in Two Weeks

Reports also said Hamas still planning to take over Judea and Samaria; spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denies claims.

Ari Soffer and Ido Ben-Porat ,

Sami Abu Zuhri
Sami Abu Zuhri
Reuters

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri on Tuesday denied reports that Hamas was planning to imminently resume rocket fire against Israel.

"Hamas denies what has been reported on an Israeli website - and not from Ismail Haniyeh's lips - about the decision to renew the conflict at the end of the ceasefire," he said.

Zuhri was apparently referring to media reports which claimed that Hamas's deputy head and former "prime minister" of Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, had ordered the terrorist group to resume fire at the end of a month-long ceasefire on September 25.

According to the reports, Haniyeh declared that this past summer's 50-day war was "not the last round" of battle with Israel, and warned that Hamas's "military wing", the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, would resume fire if Israel's limited blockade of the Gaza Strip was not completely lifted.

It is also worth noting that the same reports cited senior Hamas officials as outlining the group's next mission: overthrowing the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria and mounting an Islamist takeover, thus enabling them to better target Israel's major cities with rockets. 

During this summer's military operation, thousands of rockets bombarded southern and central Israel, with several long-range missiles reaching as far north as Haifa.

However, Gaza is situated next to the Negev Desert in southern Israel - which comprises some 60% of Israel's landmass but contains only around 8% of the country's population. As a result, although several people were killed and hundreds injured, many of Hamas and Islamic Jihad's unguided missiles landed outside of populated areas, and only the longest-range rockets could reach major population centers.

In contrast, Judea and Samaria is a mountainous and strategically-important region overlooking central Israel - a densely-populated strip of land which contains some 70% of the country's population and around three quarters of its industry. Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport would also be in range of even the short-range rockets which have until now plagued southern Israeli communities such as Sderot.

The Samarian mountain range would also allow Hamas to target all of northern Israel as well - meaning the entire country would essentially be within range.

Last month, as Operation Protective Edge was still underway, Israeli security forces say they broke up a major Hamas cell planning a coup against the PA. If the latest reports are indeed true, it would indicate that Hamas's leadership has not given up its ambitions in Judea and Samaria despite the setback.

A month-long ceasefire was signed by Israel and Gazan terrorists including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as well as by the PA, on August 25, and is set to expire in just two weeks' time. That being said, the sides agreed to extend the truce indefinitely to facilitate talks on "core issues", such as Palestinian demands for an end to Israeli security restrictions on weapons and other potentially dangerous material entering Gaza.

According to recent reports there has been no progress in the talks.



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