Palestinians will respond to Israel al-Aqsa ‘aggression’: Hamas

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Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said Thursday Palestinians “will not sit with their arms crossed” in the face of Israeli “aggression” against the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

He was speaking in Beirut after Israel blamed Palestinian militants for firing a barrage of rockets from Lebanon at northern Israel.

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Haniyeh, who arrived in the Lebanese capital a day earlier, met on Thursday the heads of other Palestinian organizations as Israel threatened a military response to the rocket fire.

“Our Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance groups will not sit idly by” in the face of Israel’s “savage aggression” against al-Aqsa, Haniyeh said in a statement after the meeting.

Israel accused Palestinian groups of firing 34 rockets from Lebanon on the Jewish Passover holiday, a day after clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians inside Islam’s third-holiest site.

The violence in Jerusalem was widely denounced by neighboring states and several Palestinian groups vowed they would respond.

In his statement, Haniyeh called on “all Palestinian organizations to unify their ranks and intensify their resistance against the Zionist occupation (Israel).”

Earlier, Israeli army spokesperson Lt. Colonel Richard Hecht said Palestinian groups were responsible for the rocket barrage.

“We know for sure it’s Palestinian fire,” he told reporters. “It could be Hamas, it could be [extremists], we are still trying to finalize but it wasn’t Hezbollah.”

The militant group effectively controls southern Lebanon and enjoys good relations with Hamas, which rules in the Gaza Strip.

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