Even if it agreed to a ceasefire after firing over 400 missiles at Israel earlier this week, Hamas has no plans to halt its other terror activities – and Friday will be the first opportunity to see how far the terror group is willing to go.
Hamas Gaza head Yahye Sinwar said Thursday that Hamas planned to continue its Friday riots at the border fence. “We will not allow Israel to attack Gaza. The ‘marches of return’ will continue. The occupation is continuing its crimes against us, but we will not allow this.”
The IDF, meanwhile, issued its own warning. IDF General Kamil Abu-Rukun, head of army affairs in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas, said that the army had run out of patience. “We know that Hamas is the brains behind these Friday marches,” but that Gazans needed to think for themselves.
“We will not demonstrate restraint to anyone who violates orders and comes closer than 100 meters to the border fence. Anyone who trie[s] to damage the security fence, to climb the fence, or to place bombs or grenades next to it or fly terror balloons into Israel is placing himself in danger,” Abu-Rukun said. “I suggest that Gaza residents wake up. Hamas and the terror groups are leading you off a cliff. Understand this before it is too late. You have been warned.” He did not specify what actions soldiers would take if Gazans violated any of the rules he laid down.
On a tour of the border area Thursday, Housing Minister Yoav Galant said that he expected a major campaign in Gaza sooner than later, but that “we will set the timing and the conditions, not Hamas. The Cabinet has ordered the IDF to restore quiet and to prepare for a worsening of the security situation. I have participated in many battles, including in the Gaza region. I see war as the last choice. War is a method to achieve a goal, not a goal in itself. But true leadership means taking into account and make the right decisions for the interests of Israel, and not to make decisions because they are popular. Those who cannot lead in this manner should not be making leadership decisions,” Galant said.