The tense situation along Israel’s northern and southern frontiers has significantly increased over the course of the past 24-hours, prompting a decision by Jerusalem to deploy additional anti-rocket defense system batteries, including in the greater Tel Aviv area. The increase of tension comes after the Islamist Hamas organization informed Qatar’s envoy to the Palestinian enclave that it would not accept a third installment of funds intended to help alleviate the humanitarian distress across the Gaza Strip, even though the Israeli Security Cabinet approved the transfer of the Qatari donated funds. In a press release, the Deputy Hamas Chief in Gaza Dr. Khalil al-Hayyah announced that “the Islamist organization attributed its decision to the fact that Israel blocked entry of the funds into Gaza many times over the past few weeks,” with the aim of “blackmailing the Palestinian resistance,” as he put it, “and to exploit the humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip for electoral advertising.” The Hamas statement further underscored that “The Palestinian people would never be subject to blackmail by Israeli officials.”
In response to the statement by the deputy Hamas Chief, the Israeli military’s Arabic Media Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Avichay Adraee released a statement of his own on social media, in which he reached out to the residents of the Gaza Strip. Colonel Adraee stressed that “In recent weeks, (Israel) have discerned that (the) Islamic Jihad is increasingly trying to undermine the security situation in the Gaza Strip, which the latest incidents on the Gaza border have proved. This grave activity is endangering security stability and the attempts to bring about an improvement in the civilian situation in the Gaza Strip.” The IDF spokesperson further stressed that the “Islamic Jihad is putting you and your safety in jeopardy. There is no doubt as to where Islamic Jihad’s loyalty lies—the only question is whether its plans to drag you into escalated violence succeed.”
The statement by Lieutenant colonel Avichay Adraee came after Israel’s defense establishment assessed an increased possibility that the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad, which is a close ally of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, will try to attack IDF soldiers on the Israel-Gaza border due to Hamas’s refusal to accept the funds from Qatar. As a result of this assessment, the IDF has reinforced its troops since early this morning.
Meanwhile, Senior Islamic Jihad official Khaled al-Batsh announced in a statement that the decision to escalate incidents with Israel was up to the leadership of the Islamic Jihad and that they were the ones who would uphold the Palestinians’ interests and rights.