Fears of war follow Israeli air strikes on 'Hamas sites' in Gaza

Fears of war follow Israeli air strikes on 'Hamas sites' in Gaza
The raids caused heavy explosions in most of the Gaza Strip, home to more than 2.3 million people. No casualties were reported by officials at the Hamas-run health ministry.

4 min read
13 February, 2023
Palestinians inspect a damaged wedding Photography studio following Israeli strikes in Gaza City on 13 February 2023. [Getty]

The Israeli army on Monday morning attacked several alleged military sites belonging to the Gaza-ruled Islamic Hamas movement after a homemade rocket was fired from the coastal enclave into Israeli cities Saturday evening.

Palestinian security sources told The New Arab that the Israeli warplanes attacked several sites belonging to Hamas in various places within the so-called "Fire Belt" in the territory.

The raids caused heavy explosions in most of the Gaza Strip, home to more than 2.3 million people. No wounded were reported by officials at the Hamas-run health ministry.

Avichai Adrea, the spokesman of the Israeli army, claimed that warplanes struck underground military posts that are used to manufacture local missiles to fire on "Israeli territory". 

"Hamas controls Gaza, and it must hold responsibility for any rocket fired from its territories and it must pay the price for breaching Israel’s security," the Israeli spokesman said in a press statement.

However, one of the sites hit by Israel's latest attack included a wedding hall.

On Saturday night, unknown Palestinian militants launched a missile from Gaza into the Israeli cities adjacent to the besieged coastal enclave. None of the armed Palestinian factions claimed responsibility for the launch.

Since the beginning of 2023, the Israeli army has attacked the besieged coastal enclave for the third time, while warning Hamas to maintain control of the situation in Gaza and not provoke a new military war.

For its part, Hamas considered the militants who attack Israel as loose cannons and not part of any national armed group, especially since the Joint Chamber of Resistance has a shared decision to respond to any Israeli attempts to attack Gaza, according to a security source close to Hamas.

Under the condition of anonymity, the source told TNA that "Hamas arrested some of the militants who fired rockets at Israel (…) it found that they do not belong to any of the armed factions in Gaza."

"Following in-depth investigations with the detainees, Hamas accused some of them of spying for Israel and seeking to implicate Gaza in a new wave of military escalation," the source claimed.

The Israeli violence in Gaza came as tensions between the Israeli army and the Palestinians have been growing, especially in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, where Israel has killed at least 48 Palestinians since the start of the year. Nine Israelis were also killed in this period. 

For its part, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) group warned Israel that the "Palestinian resistance will not remain silent towards the Israeli provocative actions in the West Bank and it should not test Gaza's patience."

"We maintain our firm position in the face of endless Israeli aggression against our people and our land," Dawood Shihab, the spokesman of the PIJ, said to TNA.

Shihab's remarks came a few days after official talks were held between the Egyptian intelligence officials and delegations of Hamas and the PIJ movements to discuss the tensions in the West Bank and maintain a fragile truce in Gaza with Israel into the Islamic Holy month of Ramadan.

"Up to now, we have not got any confirmation from the Egyptians that Israel will stop all its provocative crimes in the West Bank," a senior official at the PIJ, spoke to TNA under the condition of anonymity.

"Egypt is worried about losing the calm in Gaza and a new round of military escalation with the Israeli occupation (…) in addition, it knows that Israel forces us to respond to its crimes," he added. 

The official stressed that Egypt understands that if the situation explodes in the West Bank, it will also ignite Gaza as well.

"None of the Palestinian resistance will be able to control itself if the Israeli provocations continue during Ramadan, and only the resistance is capable of curbing the Israeli aggression," the source said.

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Meanwhile, residents in Gaza expressed worries over a new bloody confrontation with the Israeli army, which doe not distinguish between armed militants and civilians.

"We are not ready for any war. We are still suffering from the consequences of the latest conflict. Our homes still need to be built. Also, we need more time to restore our normal life as well as it was before 2007," Abdul Hady Shamalakh, a resident in Gaza, said to TNA.

Since 2007, the Palestinians in Gaza have suffered extremely difficult living conditions due to the Israeli-imposed blockade on the coastal enclave after Hamas.

Moreover, the Israeli army launched five large-scale wars and dozens of short military raids against the Palestinians in Gaza, which left thousands dead and destroyed thousands of residential and industrial as well as government buildings.