Hamas threatens Israel with ‘major battle’

(Gaza) The leader of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinouar, warned on Saturday of the possibility of a “major battle” against Israel in the event of a new “aggression” by Israeli forces at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Updated yesterday at 12:34pm.

In recent weeks, the esplanade of mosques in Jerusalem, Islam’s third holiest site and Judaism’s holiest site, known as the Temple Mount, has been the scene of clashes.

Nearly 300 Palestinians have been injured in the area where Al-Aqsa is located following anti-Israeli attacks and Israeli army operations in the occupied West Bank.

During these clashes, Israeli police were stationed on the Esplanade and also at one point entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque and threw tear gas, leading to condemnation from Palestinian and Muslim countries.

Photo HAZEM BADER, Agence France-Presse

A member of the Israeli security forces leads the guard at a checkpoint on the way to the city of Jerusalem.

“Whoever makes the decision to repeat this will make the decision to demolish thousands of synagogues around the world,” Yahya Sinouar, head of Hamas’ political bureau in the blockaded Gaza Strip, said in a speech from Israel.

“They will have to prepare for a major battle if the occupation (name given to Israel by the Palestinians, ed.) does not stop attacking Al-Aqsa Mosque,” he added.

This rare speech was delivered on the anniversary of the 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in May 2021 according to the Muslim calendar.

He also paid tribute to Iran, Israel’s main enemy, and Islamic Republic-backed movements, including Lebanese Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

In the event of “aggression” on the mosque esplanade during “Jerusalem Day,” Hamas will fire more than a thousand rockets at Israel, Mr Sinouar said.

This event, scheduled for late May and celebrated in Israel, commemorates the conquest of the Palestinian part of the Holy City in 1967.

Under a historical status quo, Muslims are allowed to pray in the square, located in Israel’s annexed Palestinian section of Jerusalem, while non-Muslims can go there at certain times but not pray there.

In recent years, the number of Jews visiting the promenade has risen to a record high in April during Passover, the Jewish Passover.

Despite the ban, large numbers of Jewish worshipers are regularly spotted praying there, raising concerns among Muslims that this historic status quo could be shaken.

The Jewish state “will not change the historical status quo,” Israel’s chief of diplomacy, Yair Lapid, assured last week.

The Raam Party, the first Arab group in Israel’s history to support a governing coalition, recently “suspended” its support over the violence in Jerusalem.

On Saturday, Yahya Sinouar urged its leader Mansour Abbas to “quit” the coalition for good.

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