Hamas Threatens Strong Retaliation for Israeli Attacks:
1. In his speech on the anniversary of the killing of Hezbollah’s three high-ranking 1. On February 27, 2017, a rocket fire was fired into Israeli territory, landing near a community in the western Negev. There were no casualties and no damage was reported. In response Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked five Hamas terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip (IDF spokesman, February 27, 2017). The Palestinian ministry of health reported three wounded (Ma'an, February 27, 2017).
2. The Israeli response to the rocket fire led to strong reactions from Hamas spokesmen and the Hamas-affiliated media. In Hamas' opinion Israel's response was disproportionate and intended to force a "new equation" on Hamas. Hamas reiterated the threat that it would not permit Israel to enforce such an "equation," even if it led to an escalation unwanted by Hamas. Some of the reactions from Hamas spokesman and media were the following:
a. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Israel was responsible for any escalation, which, he said, harmed the "resistance" [i.e., Hamas] and the residents of the Gaza Strip. He also said that continuing attacks on "resistance" posts and facilities were "deliberately intended to ignite the Gaza Strip." He added that the "resistance" would not allow Israel to enforce new rules of engagement on Hamas (Shehab, February 27, 2017). In a press release published on a Hamas website on February 27, 2017, he said "Hamas accuses the Israeli entity of full responsibility for the dangerous, continuing escalation in the Gaza Strip targeting the Palestinian resistance and our Gazan civilians. We cannot accept the continued attacks on the [military] posts of the resistance, its facilities and territories. [We also cannot accept Israel's] intention to escalate the situation in the Gaza Strip and force new equations on the resistance, regardless of the price" (Hamas website, February 27, 2017).
b. Abu Obeida, spokesman for Hamas' military wing, threatened that the next time Israel attacked, Hamas would respond and not remain silent. He added that Israel understood only the language of force and that "the resistance, especially the [Izz al-Din] Qassam Brigades, would have something to say to any future aggression, such as what happened yesterday [February 27]. If the resistance promises, it keeps it promise.
" Wait and see" (Twitter account of Abu Obeida, quoted by the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, February 28, 2017). The Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website also issued commentary, stating that a change could occur in the rules of engagement on the ground since Operation Protective Edge. According to Hamas-affiliated commentator Hamza Abu Shanab, the "resistance" was adopting a different approach and the next time would not allow Israel to continue its aggression. He claimed that next time the Palestinian resistance and the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades would have different responses [for Israel] (Hamza Abu Shanab, the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, February 28, 2017).
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