The Gaza strip is preparing for an imminent military confrontation with Israel within the next few days, London-based Arabic-language Al Hayat reported Sunday.
The report suggests that the Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization Hamas, among other Palestinian factions, assesses the chances of war with Israel “at 95 percent,” claiming it could break out within days or even hours.
Referring to unnamed sources, who met Hamas political chief Yahya Sinwar, the report says that Palestinians believed Israel would use a training exercise planned near the enclave to launch an attack on it. Hamas, for its part, has reinforced security measures across the Strip, evacuating sites and headquarters.
Israeli media outlet Haaretz has also published the report, however, stated that it “exaggerated” the imminent threat of a war, describing it as part of Hamas’s attempt to “ratchet up international discussion” over the humanitarian plight in Gaza and non-implementation of the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
“It is widely believed that Israel will not initiate war with Hamas without real escalation in the south, such as a surge in rocket fire at southern communities,” Haaretz wrote.
The report has not been confirmed by officials in the PA.
Relations between Israel and Palestine have deteriorated since US President Donald Trump announced his historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on December 6, instructing the US State Department to move the US Embassy, currently located in Tel Aviv, to Jerusalem. The move provoked worldwide criticism, with Palestinians taking to the streets to protests the decision and Arab states seeking recognition of East Jerusalem as Palestinian.
A week after Trump’s controversial step, Hamas announced a third “intifada,” with Palestinians launching rocket attacks on Israeli territory. Israeli Air Forces, for their part, retaliated with airstrikes on Gaza.
The majority of ethnic Arabs hopes to see a two-state solution and a return of Palestinian land located behind the ”1967 Lines”, re-establishing the pre-Six Day War borders, when Israel captured the Gaza Strip from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, as well as the Golan Heights from Syria. Since then, Israeli settlers have continued to establish new communities in the West Bank, something Palestinians consider an act of aggression.