Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s leader in Gaza, on Wednesday threatened to “pummel” Israel if necessary.
"Hamas is not seeking a confrontation, but if such a confrontation should arise, Hamas will pummel Israel," said Sinwar, according to Yediot Aharonot.
Sinwar, whose voice has not been heard many times since his appointment as Ismail Haniyeh's replacement last February, warned Israel against "taking stupid steps against Gaza", adding, "The Palestinian resistance has the ability to respond to that."
Sinwar also made it clear that Hamas was prepared for a confrontation and claimed that the organization's strength was greater than it was during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
"Israel is not launching a new war against Gaza, which stresses its fear of the unknown that awaits it in Gaza," he claimed.
Sinwar was released together with 1,026 other terrorists as part of the 2011 Shalit deal.
Since the counterterrorism Operation Protective Edge, Hamas has been busily reconstructing its terror tunnel network breaching into Israeli territory.
A senior Israeli security official estimated several months ago that the terror group continues to dig 10 kilometers in tunnels leading into Israel per month.
Last week, the IDF and the Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet) exposed significant infrastructures belonging to Hamas in Gaza, including terrorist tunnels intended to be used as hideouts for terrorists and for the transfer of weapons.
Aerial photographs proved that Hamas takes advantage of Gazans and hides the entry shafts of the tunnels underneath houses and public buildings, such as schools and mosques.
Earlier this week, Hamas flatly denied that it was hiding tunnel entrances underneath homes and public buildings, describing Israel’s claims as “lies and rumors”.