Hamas says not seeking war but will fight Israeli incursions
GAZA CITY – Agence France-PresseHamas’ leader in Gaza said May 6 that his Islamist movement did not seek war with Israel but would resist incursions into the Palestinian enclave, following the worst cross-border violence since the 2014 war.
Three days of mortar and tank fire between Israel and Palestinian militants, as well as Israeli air strikes, have raised concerns of a new conflict in the Hamas-run territory.
Ismail Haniyeh accused Israeli forces of intruding nearly 200 meters into Gazan territory.
“We are not calling for a new war, but we will not under any circumstances accept these incursions,” he said in a Friday prayer sermon in the Gaza Strip.
Earlier in the day Israeli aircraft carried out their fourth air raid on the Palestinian enclave since May 4, attacking sites at Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza and near Khan Yunis in the south of the territory, witnesses said.
There were no reports of any casualties.
The Israeli army confirmed only one strike, saying it was a reaction to cross-border mortar fire.
“In response to the ongoing attacks against Israeli forces, Israel Air Force aircraft targeted a Hamas terror infrastructure,” an army statement said.
Since May 4, Hamas and other militant groups have fired at least 12 mortar rounds across the frontier, while Israeli tanks stationed on the border have fired repeatedly at what the army said were Hamas targets.
The Palestinian fire targeted Israeli forces searching along the border, and short distances inside Gaza, for infiltration tunnels leading into southern Israel -- among the most feared weapons of Hamas fighters during the 2014 conflict.
On May 5, Zeina Al-Amour, a 54-year-old Palestinian woman, became the first fatality of the flare-up after Israeli tank fire hit her home, medics said.
The violence has raised concerns for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist rulers of Gaza, that has held since the 50-day war in 2014 left 2,251 Palestinians and 73 Israelis dead.