A Hamas militant issued a thinly-veiled threat against Americans after the State Department officially designated a Hamas leader as being an international terrorist, The Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday.
The State Department’s designated Fathi Hammad as an international terrorist on Friday, saying that he used his position as a former interior minister “to coordinate terrorist cells.” In response, a Hamas faction released a threatening video on social media. “We warn American citizens against entering Gaza because they are unwelcome after the decision [against Hammad] was made,” Abu Jamal of the al-Nasser Saladin Brigade said.
Other elements within Hamas attempted to soften the threat. Iyad al-Bazm, a spokesman for Hamas’s Interior Ministry, wrote on Facebook that “threats published by someone who belongs to one of the resistance factions are unacceptable and illegal,” and that Hamas was committed to protecting “all foreign citizens residing and visiting the Gaza Strip.”
Hundreds of American journalists and aid workers live in and visit Gaza. The State Department warned all Americans to leave Gaza “as soon as possible” in late August.
In 2008, Hammad acknowledged that Hamas used human shields, saying with regards to Israel that Hamas “[desires] death like you desire life.”
Avi Issacharoff reported in The Times of Israel earlier this month that Hamas was spending $100 million on building up its military infrastructure. Forty percent of that is believed to be spent on paying 1,500 diggers and other to build its terror tunnel network. He also reported that Hamas was working with the Sinai-based affiliate of the Islamic State to smuggle the materials it needs for its terror infrastructure.
Israeli Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold announced in May that Hamas is confiscating 95% of cement that enters Gaza. “From our own investigations we found that out of every 100 sacks of cement that come into the Gaza Strip [from Israel], only five or six are transferred to civilians,” he stated. Hamas uses the cement to build and expand its network of tunnels.
The IDF uncovered two Hamas tunnels that breached Israeli territory in the spring. Hamas used its network of tunnels during the 2014 war to infiltrate into Israel and has continued its efforts to rebuild and expand its infrastructure. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, formerly the head of the research division of Israeli military intelligence and later the director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, told reporters in May that the discovery of the tunnels was a sign that Hamas was preparing for another war against Israel. He added that the tunnel digging means that “they definitely invest a lot in making the necessary preparations so that in the next round, when they decide to start it, they will be able to inflict the heaviest damage on Israel, including through those tunnels.”
[Photo: MEMRI /YouTube ]