The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas called on its followers to wage a “religious war” against Israel on Saturday, shortly after security forces temporarily closed the Temple Mount following a deadly attack there.
The Islamist group’s spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, called for an “uprising” to attack Israeli soldiers and residents of the West Bank, the Associated Press reported.
The threat follows a report carried by The Washington Post last week that the electricity shortage in Gaza—a crisis sparked by Palestinian infighting—has raised Israeli concerns that Hamas will resort to launching another war.
Hamas on Wednesday repeated its call for an escalation in violence, which was echoed by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Fatah, the main political party in the Palestinian Authority, also urged its followers to participate in a “Day of Rage” against Israel.
Fatah calls for 'day of rage' Wednesday, urges Palestinians to converge on Al-Aqsa Mosque. Hamas, Islamic Jihad call for escalating intifada
— Khaled Abu Toameh (@KhaledAbuToameh) July 17, 2017
Hamas has already assembled an army of 27,000 in preparation for its next conflict with Israel, which includes a unit dedicated to attacking civilians inside of Israeli territory, The Times of Israel reported last month.
In April, an IDF unit that monitors the border with Gaza told The Times of Israel that it observed Hamas “rearming on every level on the sea-front — systems, weapons and trainings.” In March, it was reported that Hamas had developed powerful new rockets that could threaten Israeli border towns.
A senior IDF official told Israel’s Channel 2 in February that Hamas has rebuilt its tunnel infrastructure and rocket arsenal to the levels it maintained before its 2014 war against Israel.
Hamas spends some $40 million of its $100 million military budget on tunnel construction, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources. An Israeli official estimated last July that Hamas digs some six miles of tunnels every month.
Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh pointed out last year that Hamas has prioritized developing its military infrastructure over rebuilding Gazan homes, writing that “the last thing Hamas cares about is the welfare of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”
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 last May that Hamas is investing “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.”
[Photo: Wochit News / YouTube ]