TEL AVIV – Hamas has warned Israel against provoking another violent conflict, saying the movement is ready to fight.
Top Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh declared earlier this week that the movement’s military wing will “stun the whole world with its power of resistance.”
“We’re building our strength above and below the ground, beyond the enemy lines, in the air, sea, and land, and not just to defend Gaza because, despite the siege, the Strip is liberated,” Haniyeh said during a ceremony marking 20 years since the elimination of the movement’s explosives expert, “the engineer” Yahye Ayash, by Israel.
“We’re doing it for the sake of the whole of Palestine. Al Qassam Brigades, who stunned the entire world in the last war, will do it again whenever they face the enemy.”
Although Hamas regularly threatens Israel, several sources in the movement told Breitbart Jerusalem that Haniyeh’s speech reflects the group’s increased confidence following successful tests of new missiles and rockets that have recently been smuggled into the Strip or developed in the Hamas-controlled territory.
Hamas’ efforts to rebuild its military power have been boosted thanks to Hamas’ cooperation with Welayat Sinai, the local branch of the Islamic State.
Breitbart Jerusalem previously reported that Shadi al-Menai, one of the leaders of Wilayat Sinai, visited Gaza in a bid to mediate between Hamas and local Salafi groups after clashes erupted, resulting in the arrests of dozens of jihadists by Hamas forces.
Now, a leading Salafi source reveals that Menai mediated a deal whereby Hamas would give the Gaza Salafi opposition groups more leeway in exchange for Wilayat Sinai’s help in bypassing the Egyptian army’s restrictions on smuggling rocket parts into Gaza
The resumption of arms smuggling, combined with renewed Iranian financial support, have greatly beefed up the training of Hamas’ military wing.
Abu Khaled, head of the media office of the Al Qassam Brigades, told Breitbart Jerusalem that he declined to comment on matters of national security.
This is not the first report of Hamas-IS cooperation in arms smuggling.
A Middle East think tank charged last month that there is information Hamas has been paying off the Islamic State’s Sinai branch to smuggle weapons into Gaza. “Over the past two years, IS Sinai helped Hamas move weapons from Iran and Libya through the peninsula, taking a generous cut from each shipment,” stated a report by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Despite the rapprochement between Hamas and IS-Sinai, tensions between the ruling faction and Gazan Salafi opposition groups are rampant.
The Army of Islam, a Salafi group that aspires to become IS’s sole representative in Palestine, recently released an acerbic video in which it blames Hamas for straying from Sharia law and cooperating with anti-Islamic players, including Shi’ite Iran.
Last month, Breitbart Jerusalem reported Hamas in the Gaza Strip has been hard at work attempting to manufacture rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv. It has also shared its rocket-making capabilities with other terrorist organizations in the coastal enclave, according to security sources familiar with the matter.
Many Gaza residents say that the number of explosions heard across the Strip has greatly increased.
The Israeli army confirmed to Breitbart Jerusalem that Hamas has been engaged in more rocket test launches into the sea.