Hamas has warned Israel it would face a military escalation after its warplanes bombed the Gaza Strip following rocket fire from the Palestinian territory coinciding with the signing of Israel, the UAE and Bahrain normalisation deals.
Smoke and flame are seen following an Israeli air strike in the southern Gaza Strip on September 16, 2020. (Reuters)
Israel has carried out a series of air strikes targeting multiple Hamas positions in the blockaded Gaza Strip.
The Israeli army said the attacks were in response to rockets fired towards “Israeli territory yesterday evening”, claiming that eight of a total of 13 rockets fired from Gaza were intercepted.
Israeli warplanes struck 10 sites in Gaza, including “a weapons and explosives manufacturing factory and a Hamas military complex used for rocket training and experiments”, the army added.
The renewed exchange offered a stark reminder that the festive events in Washington would likely do little to change Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.
Rocket fire from Gaza on Tuesday evening coincided with the formal signing of normalization agreements between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain at the White House.
One of the rockets landed in the city of Ashdod, wounding two Israelis.
The al Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian group Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks, saying in a statement that it was a response to “Israeli aggression”.
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Hamas warns Israel of escalation
Hamas has warned Israel it would face a military escalation after its warplanes bombed the Gaza Strip.
“The occupant (Israel) will pay the price for any aggression against our people or resistance sites and the response will be direct,” said the group which rules Gaza.
“We will increase and expand our response to the extent that the occupation persists in its aggression,” it added in a statement.
The signing of the deal came just ahead of the 38th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre in which 460 to 3,500 civilians were killed.
The attack on September 16, 1982 took place in the Sabra neighbourhood and the adjacent Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon.
It was carried out by a militia close to the Kataeb Party, a predominantly Christian Lebanese right-wing party.
‘A black day’
“This is a black day in the history of the official Arab system, and a sad day for the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause,” said Wasel Abu Yousef, a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee and Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Front.
“It is another treacherous stab in the back of the Palestinian people’s struggle, rights, sanctities and sacrifices,” he said, adding that it comes in the wake of the so-called American peace plan known as the deal of the century.
Such deals would enable Israel to escalate atrocities against Palestinians and carry out crimes including “confiscation of lands, the policy of ethnic cleansing and collective punishment in all the occupied Palestinian territories”, said Abu Yousef.
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Israel formally signed the agreements with representatives for Bahrain, UAE and Israel during a White House ceremony presided over by US President Donald Trump.
Bahrain became the fourth Arab country to establish diplomatic relations with Israel last Friday after Egypt in 1979, Jordan in 1994 and the UAE in August.
Secretary of the Fatah Movement’s Revolutionary Council Majid al Fityani said: “they signed, in their disgrace, agreements of dependency, protection, and obedience with the occupation state.”
“Shame on the foreheads of the rulers of the Emirates and Bahrain. [They] do not represent anything to the Palestinians,” he said.
Palestinians staged a series of rallies Tuesday in the West Bank and Gaza Strip against the controversial agreements.