Hamas: We're not looking for war

Haniyeh claims Israel is 'violating its space,' after IAF retaliates to Hamas mortar fire.

Tags: Hamas
Arutz Sheva staff ,

Ismail Haniyeh
Ismail Haniyeh

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Friday that his Islamist terror movement is not seeking war with Israel, but will not tolerate its troops entering Gaza. 

"We are not calling for a new war, but we will not under any circumstance accept these incursions," he said in a prayer sermon in Gaza, which has repeatedly fired mortar shells on Israeli soldiers on the Gaza border this week as the troops work to thwart Hamas's terror tunnels.

Haniyeh said that Israeli forces had entered Gaza to a depth of "150 to 199 meters (yards) on the pretext of searching for tunnels."

"We sent multiple messages that the resistance will not allow the Israeli occupation army to impose new rules within the borders of the Gaza Strip," continued the senior terrorist.

He said Hamas would not accept the "so-called buffer zone," referring to a 100-meter wide strip along the border but inside Gazan territory where the IDF retains the right to operate so as to prevent terrorist breaches. Ironically, Haniyeh has remained largely quiet on the massive Egyptian buffer zone in southern Gaza since late 2014, which likewise is a counter-terror tool.

Arab sources in Gaza told Walla on Friday afternoon that the IDF had pulled back its forced from the Gazan side of the security barrier, and was continuing to search for tunnels on the Israeli side.

Gazan terrorists lobbed mortar shells at Engineering Corps troops Friday, one day after three separate Hamas mortar attacks were launched at roughly two hour intervals by Gazan terrorists on IDF soldiers near the security border in southern Gaza. The IAF responded in kind Friday, shelling terror targets in northern Gaza.  

At least six mortar attacks were launched in the two days before that, but the terrorists were unable to prevent Israel from unearthing a new Hamas terror tunnel on Thursday morning.

Hamas has radically changed its tune since then, after it warned Israel on Wednesday not to "test its patience" after the first mortar shells were fired.

AFP contributed to this report.