Islamic Jihad terrorists
Islamic Jihad terrorists Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

Khaled Al-Batash, one of the senior leaders of the Islamic Jihad terrorist group in Gaza, reiterated on Saturday that the organization is determined to retaliate for Israel blowing up a terror tunnel which led from Gaza into Israel, resulting in the deaths of 17 terrorists, most of them members of the Islamic Jihad.

The bodies of 12 of the terrorists were recovered by the Palestinian Authority (PA), while Israel recovered and is holding the bodies of the remaining five.

In an interview with the Palestinian Arab Quds Press news agency, Batash said, "We are not discussing with anyone our right to respond to the killing of 12 Palestinian fighters inside the tunnel and we will not give up this right.”

Batash added that the response to the tunnel bombing by Israel is "a right that is not subject to discussion or concession."

Asked about Egyptian and Israeli pressure on the Islamic Jihad to refrain from retaliating, Batash said that "Israel does not frighten us and the response to the killing of our martyrs and our people by the Zionists will be determined by the Al-Quds Brigades (the Islamic Jihad’s armed wing –ed.) which decides on the response and its implementation at the appropriate moment.”

Earlier this month, Khader Habib, a senior Islamic Jihad operative in Gaza, said his organization reserved the "right" to respond to the "crime" committed by the "enemy", a reference to the blowing up of the terror tunnel.

Habib noted that the response to the tunnel explosion would be coordinated with all the Palestinian resistance organizations. In this context, he stressed that there is good cooperation and coordination between Islamic Jihad and Hamas in a way that serves the national interest.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Yoav Mordechai, recently warned the terrorist organizations in Gaza that Israel will respond to any act of retaliation for the destruction of the terror tunnel.

"We are aware of the plot being waged by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad against Israel. They are playing with fire on the backs of the residents of the Gaza Strip and at the expense of internal Palestinian reconciliation and the region as a whole,” Mordechai said in an Arabic-language video he posted to YouTube.

"It should be clear," he added, "that for every Islamic Jihad response, wherever it is, Israel will respond with force and determination, not only to the Jihad but also to Hamas."