Hamas threatens retaliation if Israel launches Gaza ground assault
Following now-denied reports that Israel launched a ground operation in Gaza on Friday, Saleh al-Aruri said on Hamas-owned Al-Aqsa television that his forces are capable of surprising Israel and that they possess stronger weapons than those deployed in previous conflicts.
"A land operation would be a disaster for [Israel], and it would not be able to come out of it until the balance of the war changes," Aruri said, according to Anadolu Agency.
He added that Hamas has made preparations to repel any Israeli land operation.
The front lines in the occupied West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Green Line area, where Palestinian citizens of Israel live, are key for victory, he added.
Israel's military on Friday denied previous official reports that it had launched a ground operation in Gaza, citing "miscomunnication".
On Saturday, foreign journalists in Israel and international media outlets said the IDF "deliberately" misled them over "fake" reports of a ground assault on Gaza, Haaretz reported. They said the incident will lead media to mistrust he IDF statements in the future.
"In a new crime against our Palestinian people, the occupation committed a heinous massacre at dawn today in Al-Shati Camp in Gaza City, as an extension of the massacres it carried out in different areas of the Strip," said Haniyeh.
"We hold the brutal occupation fully responsible for the continued targeting of civilians and the security population," he added.
"We affirm that the resistance will continue to defend its proud people, defeat the enemy's army and deter it from continuing its massacres."
In separate comments at rally attended by thousands in the Qatari capital Doha, Haniyeh warned Al Aqsa mosue is a red line.
“We stand here today to tell them, the blessed Al Aqsa mosque is a red line, remove your filthy hands from Jerusalem, the Al Aqsa Mosque and our people in Sheikh Jarrah,” Haniyeh told the demonstrators.
“Netanyahu, do not play with fire,” he warned.
The Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, has called on all Palestinians to fight Israeli forces to mark the 73rd anniversary of Israel's forced explusion of Palestinian communities upon its foundation, known as the Nakba [Catastrophe], on May 15, 1948.
The statement called on Palestinians to give "Zionists nightmares… and make them pay the price for their occupation of Palestinian Territories."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday vowed to continue attacks on the Gaza Strip, saying his country's operation is "not over yet."
"We will do everything to restore the safety of our cities and citizens," Netanyahu said in a virtual message, where he claimed that Israel can find the leaders of Hamas "anywhere".
Agencies contributed to this report.