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Palestinian Israeli conflict

Hamas chief, Israel’s Netanyahu threaten to escalate violence

Published: Updated:

Hostilities between Hamas and Israel escalated on Tuesday, with no imminent end to the violence as the Hamas leader said Israel had “ignited fire in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa and the flames extended to Gaza, therefore, it is responsible for the consequences.” Meanwhile, the Israeli prime minister warned that the militant group would “pay a very heavy price.”

Ismail Haniyeh said in a televised speech that Qatar, Egypt and the United Nations had been in contact urging calm but that Hamas’ message to Israel was: “If they want to escalate, the resistance is ready, if they want to stop, the resistance is ready.”

“If (Israel) wants to escalate, we are ready for it, and if it wants to stop, we’re also ready,” Haniyeh, who currently lives outside the strip, said in a televised address.

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Earlier, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu warned that militants in the Gaza Strip would “pay a very heavy price,” for the rockets, which reached the outskirts of Jerusalem on Monday during a holiday in Israel commemorating its capture of East Jerusalem in a 1967 war.

“We are at the height of a weighty campaign,” Netanyahu said in televised remarks alongside his Defense Minister and military chief Benny Gantz. “Hamas and Islamic Jihad paid ... and will pay a very heavy price for their belligerence ... their blood is forfeit.”

Smoke rises after Israeli airstrikes in Gaza in Gaza City, May 11, 2021. (AP/Hatem Moussa)
Smoke rises after Israeli airstrikes in Gaza in Gaza City, May 11, 2021. (AP/Hatem Moussa)

For his part, Gantz said Israeli strikes so far on Palestinian targets in Gaza were “just the beginning,” after Hamas fired rockets toward Tel Aviv.

“There are many targets,” to hit in Gaza, Gantz said following Israeli strikes on hundreds of targets in the territory since Monday evening.

“This is just the beginning,” he said. “Terror organizations have been hit hard and will continue to be hit because of their decision to hit Israel. We’ll return peace and quiet, for the long term.”

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