Islamic Jihad has placed Israel on warning it will break the ceasefire on missile attacks if its leader is banned from entering Gaza.
Israel has been spared rocket and missile attacks since the Egyptian-mediated ceasefire took effect on November 21 after the IDF’s Pillar of Defense campaign and the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system pushed the de facto Hamas regime into a position of having to back down or face a massive ground incursion.
Islamic Jihad, Hamas’ major rival terrorist organization, and other terrorist groups adhered to the truce. Islamic Jihad official Khalid al-Batsh said in Gaza Sunday, "We had hoped that Dr. Shalah could have visited Gaza accompanied by Hamas leader Mashaal, but the Israeli occupier had a different opinion.”
Sources quoted by Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency said that Israel threatened to assassinate Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah if he enters Gaza, causing the party to reconsider a planned visit.
Egyptian authorities told Islamic Jihad that Israel rejected the visit and would target leader Ramadan Shalah and his deputy Ziad Nakhla if they went into Gaza, sources close to the discussions told Ma'an.
"We want Palestinian unity, national reconciliation and we want to see unity embodied when Shalah and the Palestinian Authority’s president Mahmoud Abbas visit the Gaza Strip along with all resistance factions. After that we will focus our efforts on our enemy,” al-Batsh said.
Abbas has not yet visited Gaza nor is he expected to do so in the foreseeable future, despite his announced unity with Hamas.
Hamas’ supreme leader Khaled Mashaal visited Gaza last Friday. Several Israeli leaders from both sides of the political fence said that Israel should have taken the opportunity to drop a missile on Mashaal.