At least one of the most powerful terror groups in the Gaza Strip isn’t accepting a new status quo with Israel—in fact, they are saying there isn’t a deal at all and claiming Israel’s efforts to secure the border are part of why the situation has reignited. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) denied Israeli media reports that an “understanding” had been reached with Israel, according to the Ma’an News Agency, in which Israel would be allowed to make military incursions into the outskirts of the Gaza Strip to maintain security. The denials follow an escalation in Gaza rocket and mortar attacks last week that saw Israel retaliate.
The PIJ claims that part of the conflict is due to the Palestinian rejection of Israeli security measures in the Gaza border region. The latest incidents come as Israel has uncovered multiple terror tunnels leading from Gaza to Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in comments released by his office on Sunday, made it clear they wouldn’t stop searching for the tunnels even if Gaza terrorists keep shooting to deter them. “Israel will continue to act as necessary to uncover and counter the threat of tunnels in the south… We are not seeking escalation, but we will not be deterred from doing whatever is necessary to maintain security.”
On May 4, multiple rounds of mortar fire from Gaza marked the start of the latest escalation which Israel has noted is linked to their efforts to find and destroy the terror tunnels. IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said on Twitter that the Hamas terror tunnels “have led to a flare up”. Tweeted Lerner, “Repeated attacks against #IDF activities to locate cross border tunnels will not be tolerated. #Hamas’ diabolical plan must be stopped.”
The IDF Spokesperson’s Twitter feed marked more than a dozen Gaza incidents last week in the current escalation, which has included mortar and rocket fire. Israel has responded by striking Hamas targets according to Lerner.
Commenting on a Gaza attack last Friday, Lerner made it clear whom they hold responsible for the fighting. Tweeted Lerner, “This evenings rocket attack against the people of #Israel is an unacceptable act of aggression. #Hamas is accountable for these actions.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, May 8, 2016)