Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas in Gaza, said on Wednesday that his group had sent a message to Israel through intermediaries that it would “turn the cauldron in the face of the occupation and let the sirens continue in Gush Dan for six months.”
Gush Dan is the common reference to the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, where an estimated four million Israelis live.
“I told the mediator, who met me and [leader of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades] Marwan Issa, that I wanted to convey this message in the event that the efforts to calm things down failed and Israel launched a new aggression on Gaza,” Sinwar said.
According to Sinwar, Hamas is capable today of firing in five minutes the same number of rockets it launched over the 51 days of Operation Protective Edge in 2014. He claimed that “the number of tunnels and waylays prepared by the resistance forces is greater than that faced by the occupation (that’s Israel) in the previous war, and the missiles’ capabilities have improved.”
“There is discussion about a truce and the possibility of obtaining a stabilization of the 2014 truce, in return for breaking the siege in a concrete way, and the time limit for reaching this truce is not long,” the Hamas leader warned.
Sinwar revealed that there had been contacts between Israel and Hamas regarding the return of the two Israeli captives and the bodies of two missing IDF soldiers, and stressed that Hamas insists that this discussion not be part of the emerging truce deal.
Most of Sinwar’s speech was devoted to the Palestinian Authority and its senior officials, saying that any attempt by Chairman Abbas or the PA to impose sanctions on Gaza would constitute a breakdown of the reconciliation talks and Hamas would respond accordingly.
“While the occupation was acting aggressively against the residents of the Gaza Strip, Abu Mazen (Abbas’s nom de guerre) imposed sanctions on us in order to weaken the resistance,” Sinwar said, declaring, “We will not allow the collapse of Gaza at any cost.”
A Hamas spokesman on Wednesday called on the Palestinian Authority and Fatah to cancel their recognition of Israel, stop the security coordination with the IDF, and lift the sanctions from the Gaza Strip.