Hamas chief warns Israel against pre-poll ‘adventure’

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The Palestinian movement Hamas warned Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday against any military “adventure” in Gaza ahead of Israeli elections next month.

Netanyahu is currently battling for re-election for a fifth term, facing a tough challenge from a centrist political alliance as well as a planned indictment on corruption charges.

Israel and Hamas, which controls the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, have fought three wars since 2008.

Many analysts, however, believe Netanyahu would want to avoid an escalation in Gaza with unpredictable results ahead of April 9 polls.

Asked about a potential Israeli military operation, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya told journalists: “If the (Israeli) occupation or Netanyahu think of an adventure, I think they will pay the price that will send them away.”

“We do not fear any adventures from Netanyahu towards Gaza... The resistance has its eyes open,” added Haniya, whose movement has a military wing.

He added that Hamas did not care who won the Israeli elections.

A centrist alliance headed by former military chief Benny Gantz has overtaken right-winger Netanyahu, who is dogged by corruption allegations, in a series of polls.

But it is unclear if Gantz would be able to assemble enough parties to form a coalition.

Gantz’s emergence and comments about separating from the Palestinians have been welcomed by the secular Palestinian leadership, headed by president Mahmoud Abbas.

But Hamas, which unlike the Abbas-led Palestine Liberation Organization, has not recognized Israel, said the elections made no difference.

“We do not care who will come to rule in the occupation (state),” Haniya said.

He also accused Israel of breaching an informal truce agreement struck in November, under which the Jewish state would allow Qatari aid to enter Gaza in exchange for calm on the border.

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