TEL AVIV — Hamas and the other armed factions active in the Gaza Strip have warned citizens to prepare for an Israeli incursion into the territory that could come as soon as the next few days, according to senior sources in the Palestinian organizations who spoke to the London-based international Saudi publication Al Hayat.
According to the Al Hayat report, the factions in Gaza believe that there is a 95% chance of a new conflict erupting in a matter of hours or just a few days.
The report cited sources quoting senior Palestinian officials, including Hamas’ leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, as saying that Israel intends to take advantage of its military exercise in southern Israel to attack the Gaza Strip. The exercise is scheduled to begin on Monday.
The maneuvers are to include all three branches of the Israeli military – army, navy and air force – as well as American forces.
Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant rejected the reported Hamas claims of imminent war as “mostly talk, nothing to get worked up about.”
“The ratio of forces of Israel to Hamas is 1000:1,” Galant told Army Radio. “If they start a conflict the outcome is known.”
According to the Al Hayat report, Hamas and the Palestinian factions have set themselves on the highest state of alert, evacuated their posts and begun redeploying police forces at strategic locations in order to handle a security emergency.
Al Hayat also reported that the preparations come alongside revelations from a senior American diplomatic source who told the newspaper that the American government and its peace negotiation team have given the Palestinians a “deal of the century” for a political agreement in the Middle East, delivered through a third party.
“The American peace team, via the third party, made it clear to the Palestinians that just as Israel built its Jerusalem, the Palestinians can build their Jerusalem, hence the idea that the town of Abu Dis adjacent to Jerusalem would become the capital of the Palestinian state,” read the report.
According to the diplomatic source, the Palestinians were told that their capital would be established in territory where there is no Israeli presence and no Israeli settlements and that the Palestinians would be able to build beyond the Al Aqsa Mosque.
The plan also includes finding a humane solution to the so-called Palestinian refugee issue alongside the dismantling of UNRWA, the UN agency that deals with Palestinian “refugees.”
According to the reported deal, the Palestinian state would be established on half of the territory of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip in addition to specific areas of eastern Jerusalem like Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah and the Mount of Olives.
According to the diplomatic source, Israel has expressed its readiness to give up making these densely-populated areas part of Jerusalem. These neighborhoods include Beit Hanina, Shuafat, the Shuafat refugee camp, Kufur Akab and Rass Khamis.
According to the report, the issues of borders, security and the settlements will remain under Israeli control and will be discussed after the establishment of a Palestinian state according to the American outline with approval from the U.S., Israel and the international community.