Hamas is still committed to the ceasefire it signed with Israel in August, ending its punishing 50-day conflict with the IDF, but retains the right to "respond with force" to any "Israeli violations," a spokesperson has said.
Mushir al-Masri - an MP in Hamas's Gazan "parliament" and a senior member of the Islamist terrorist group's political leadership - told the Palestine newspaper Thursday that the various Palestinian terrorist factions were "closely monitoring" the IDF's major exercise this week close to the border with Gaza, and were watching for any "Israeli violations" of the truce.
"The ceasefire was based on an agreement (by the Palestinian factions), and any renewal of hostilities will be with the agreement (of the Palestinian factions," al-Masri told the Hamas-aligned paper, adding that Hamas would up its own hostilities in response to "continued Israeli violations."
"We are interested in maintaining the calm and in the ceasefire but, if the occupation [Hamas's common term for Israel] believes that the calm will be to its advantage and at the expense of our Palestinian people, it is living in a delusion and is mistaken," he declared.
"The resistance (sic) is following developments along the (Gaza) border very closely, and it will be they who decide the zero hour for any future conflict."
While Hamas has indeed maintained the truce with Israel in Gaza so far, it has also been openly preparing for the next round of hostilities, particularly by rebuilding its so-called "terror tunnels" to facilitate deadly infiltrations into Israeli territory, most or all of which were destroyed by the IDF during operation protective edge.
Hamas has also been conducting a series of test-launches of its rockets.
Military analysts say Hamas, as well as Islamic Jihad and other smaller factions involved in the conflict, suffered a heavy blow during the war - losing hundreds of men each and most of their rocket stockpiles - but warn Israel's decision not to decisively defeat them means it is only a matter of time before the next conflict erupts.
Meanwhile, Hamas cells in Judea and Samaria still remain active and intent on carrying out attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.
29 Hamas terrorists were arrested in Shechem in Samaria Wednesday, as part of Israeli security forces' efforts to crack down on the terrorist group.
That operation followed the arrest of a Hamas cell which planned to carry out several major attacks during the Jewish festival of Purim earlier this year.