Senior Hamas official says Gaza should keep quiet to boost West Bank ‘resistance’


As Israel’s security establishment approaches the sensitive period of Ramadan, the West Bank leader of Hamas said the group wants a curtailment of terror activities in Gaza at the moment to increase violence in the West Bank, in a leaked recording broadcast by the Hebrew media. Sunday. .

Saleh al-Arouri, a commander based in the military wing of Hamas, said that the West Bank in Gaza needs “restriction” if we are talking strategically and in terms of [the] proper management of the campaign,” he said in the recording broadcast on public broadcaster Kan, regarding the Ramadan period.

Historically, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan has added an extra layer of tension between Israelis and Palestinians and has often been a period of heightened violence and arson, particularly in the Old City of Jerusalem, with its flashpoint holy sites. In 2021, events in Jerusalem around the Temple Mount and evictions of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of the capital contributed to an 11-day war between Israel and terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip. After weeks of tension, Hamas fired a barrage of rockets at Jerusalem, marking the beginning of the conflict.

Al-Arouri said that Hamas is interested in keeping tensions high in the West Bank, and that “Gaza should govern itself” and wait for the opportune moment. He said the calls to escalate the conflict from inside the coastal bay were well-intentioned but “exaggerated,” and that the group needed to act strategically.

“For the enemy not to be at ease when the resistance increases in the West Bank, it may reach a situation where Gaza cannot continue to be silent with the enemy. If the resistance in the West Bank increases and reaches a certain level, the violence is likely to spread to all of Palestine and beyond,” he said.

“The future of resistance in the West Bank to the Zionist enemy is likely to lead to widespread regional violence, and God will be willing to create here, for the first time, an opportunity to land a great strategic blow,” al-Arouri said. .

Violent incidents and escalations in the West Bank have often resulted in rocket fire and clashes with terrorist groups in Gaza. In August, the arrest of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader in the West Bank city of Jenin led to a 66-hour conflict between Israel and PIJ, including rocket fire, but Hamas stayed out of the fighting.

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been high for the past year, with the Israeli army carrying out almost nightly raids on the West Bank amid a series of deadly terrorist attacks in Palestine. Those tensions have escalated in recent weeks, with a cycle of deadly Israeli raids and Palestinian attacks, as well as an uptick in settler violence.

Palestinian terrorist attacks in Israel and the West Bank in recent months have left 14 Israelis dead and many others injured. In 2022, at least 31 people were killed in Palestinian terrorist attacks.

Since the beginning of the year, at least 85 Palestinians have been killed, most of them in attacks or during clashes with security forces, although some were unrelated civilians and others were killed under circumstances that are being investigated.

Hamas political bureau head Ismail Haniyeh, right, shakes hands with his deputy Saleh al-Arouri, upon his arrival in Gaza from Cairo, Egypt, in Gaza City, August 2, 2018. (Mohammad Austaz/Hamas Media Office via AP )

Earlier on Sunday, Israeli and Palestinian Authority delegations met for a rare, albeit low-profile, regional summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where they again pledged to de-escalate tensions. increase days before the start of Ramadan.

The forum was a follow-up to a similar meeting held in Aqaba, Jordan last month – the first such high-level confab of Israeli and Palestinian leaders in recent years. The sides agreed to meet for a third time next month.

The Sharm el-Sheikh summit, like the one in Aqaba, was killed by a terrorist attack that took place in the Palestinian town of Huwara. Sunday’s shooting of an Israeli-owned vehicle traveling through a northern West Bank town left an Israeli-American national, a former US Marine, seriously injured.

The attack came just three weeks after two Israeli brothers were shot dead in a terror attack while driving through Huwara. After that attack, the settlers rioted in the town, setting houses and cars on fire. One Palestinian shot dead in unclear circumstances.

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