Palestinian factions in Gaza on alert ahead of planned Israeli 'flag march'
On Thursday, Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Gaza-run Hamas movement, vowed to launch "numerous, accurate and effective hand-made rockets" into the Israeli cities in an event of a new war between the two sides.
Al-Qassam's threats came during a short documentary film showed about the Walid Shamali, a former leader of the manufacturing weapons department, who was killed last May during Israel's war on the besieged Gaza Strip.
In his interview for a film sent to The New Arab, Ezz al-Din al-Haddad, an official at al-Qassam Brigades, said that "the enemy thinks assassinating the manufacturing engineers but they will be surprised by the accuracy, density and impact of these missiles that were manufactured by our heroes."
The threat was made a few days before a provocative Israeli flag march is planned to take place on Sunday, while armed Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip have reportedly been on the alert and signalled their preparedness in case of a military escalation by Israel.
Residents of Gaza have nicknamed the drones "buzzers" because of the irritating noise they makehttps://t.co/bg4gSKYeyW— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) May 24, 2022
"The upcoming days will be decisive in light of the insistence of Israeli officials to allow the march to pass through Bab al-Amoud," a source close to Hamas who preferred to be unnamed told The New Arab.
"This is an unacceptable and a clear violation of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the city of Jerusalem," the source added.
"The resistance factions have completed their field and logistical preparations to engage in a new battle if necessary," he said, placing the blame on Israel for any "new military escalation."
He explained that if a new battle erupts, it will be different from the previous conflicts, and may spill over into a regional war.
"The resistance factions have a clear decision that they will not leave those stationed in the Al-Aqsa Mosque alone in the face of the Israeli enemy and will not allow any attempts to change the status quo in Jerusalem," the source stressed.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh warned against a march by right-wing Israeli extremists through occupied East Jerusalem, saying that his group would use "all possibilities" to confront ithttps://t.co/gRN62DpMes— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) May 23, 2022
In a press statement sent to The New Arab, Maher Salah, a senior Hamas official, said that "the Israeli occupation's continuation of the arrangements for the flag march, despite the warnings, is a desperate attempt by [Prime Minister] Naftali Bennett to save his government from the inevitably coming fall, and an uncalculated adventure."
"This attempt clearly indicates the extent of extremism that this usurping entity has reached under the influence of extremist settlement movements," Salah added.
Over the past few days, Hamas, as well as other factions, received through the Egyptian and Qatari mediator "assurances that the scheduled Israeli flags march will be normal and will not cross red lines."
"However, we do not trust the occupation, and all options will remain open to us, and we will not give up our role in defending Jerusalem," Ahmad al-Mudallal, a senior leader in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, said in a press statement.
Meanwhile, local eyewitnesses told The New Arab that "there is an active movement of the Israeli army in the east of the Gaza Strip, as Israeli tanks and military vehicles arriving at sites spread along the eastern fence between the Israeli cities and the coastal enclave."
Several of the Israeli tanks are stationed opposite the cities and governorates of the Strip, while others were hidden behind sandy hills hundreds of meters from the separation fence, according to the locals.
Israeli media reported that the Israeli army has begun to reinforce the deployment of air defence systems and deploy more Iron Dome anti-missile batteries, due to fears over rockets being launched from Gaza during the flags march.
Israel had launched four large-scale wars against the coastal enclave since 2008 that have killed and wounded thousands of Palestinians in Gaza.