On Friday, shortly after the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas came into effect, Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh thanked Iran for bankrolling the rocket attacks against Israel and pledged to keep “fighting for Jerusalem.” Before the ceasefire, another senior Hamas leader, Izzat Arishek, said that the terrorist group would keep its finger on the trigger.
Haniyeh suggested that Hamas will continue fueling the violence between Palestinians and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), Israel’s N12 reported. The Hamas leader promised to continue “fighting for Jerusalem” and specifically mentioned “liberating the Al-Aqsa Mosque” in Jerusalem’s Old City and the Sheikh Jarrah evictions.
“Jerusalem remains the center of the conflict,” Haniyeh said, according to The Jerusalem Post‘s translation. His remarks suggested that Hamas has no intention to stop its efforts arranging and funding riots at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Haniyeh also described the firing of rockets at Israel as efforts “to defend Jerusalem.” This seems rather ironic, considering that some of the first rockets Hamas shot at Israel aimed squarely at Jerusalem.
Haniyeh celebrated the fact that while the IDF twice tried to assassinate Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif, both attempts failed. Haniyeh praised Deif as “the hero of Jerusalem,” noting that “the millions who chanted his name during protests in Jerusalem don’t know him, have never met him, but chose to call his name — because God chose him.”
The Hamas leader promised to provide financial support to anyone in Gaza who was injured or lost his or her home during the conflict. He concluded the speech by thanking “the Islamic Republic of Iran; who did not hold back with money, weapons, and technical support,” and by suggesting that other countries will also help Hamas’ efforts. “We will use the aid of other Arab countries as well.”
Head of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas Ismail Haniyeh thanks the Islamic Republic of Iran for supplying money and military support. pic.twitter.com/NT6KiW0hVt
— Press TV (@PressTV) May 21, 2021
Later on Friday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Muslim states to support the Palestinians militarily and financially and to help rebuild Gaza.
“Muslim states must sincerely support the Palestinian people, through military… or financial support… or in rebuilding Gaza’s infrastructure,” Khamenei said.
The current conflict began after Palestinian protesters violently attacked Israeli police while protesting an Israeli Supreme Court case that would likely uphold the lawful eviction of squatters who refused to pay rent after they agreed to acknowledge a Jewish land claim over their homes. The protesters attacked police, who responded with crowd-control measures that injured hundreds.
Hamas responded by firing thousands of rockets into Israel. The Iron Dome interceptor system has blocked the vast majority of the rockets, but the attacks have killed at least ten people in Israeli, including two children.
Israel has responded with rockets of their own, and Gaza has reported at least 230 Palestinians killed, including 65 children. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has claimed to have killed several Hamas commanders in the strikes.
According to the IDF, many of Hamas’ rockets have misfired, so the Palestinian terrorist group may be responsible for many of the deaths in the Gaza Strip. Israel has claimed that Hamas misfired 350 rockets in the first 3 days, killing innocent civilians in Gaza.
Before Israel sends precision-strike rockets, it first warns occupants of the targeted building, allowing people time to leave before destroying buildings that allegedly house Hamas weapons and intelligence. Hamas gives no such warnings to Israeli targets.
“International law requires all combatants — Israel and Hamas — to adhere to the principle of distinction. Distinction means military and civilian forces need to be separated and clearly marked, so that both sides can target each other’s military without killing civilians. Mixing the military amongst the civilians, putting military targets — military installations, rocket facilities — in or in proximity to civilian targets, itself is a violation of the law of war, and that’s what Hamas is doing,” Kontorovich explained.
“On the other hand, in fighting a war, the law of war and the Geneva Conventions understand it’s impossible to have a war without civilian casualties and the rule is those civilian casualties need to be proportionate to the military objective. Right now, Israel has destroyed much of Hamas’ capabilities, and the civilian casualties — while regrettable — are both proportionate and a direct result of Hamas’ using civilians as human shields,” he added.
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Hamas attacked Israel in part because U.S. President Joe Biden has signaled tepid support for Israel and has reached out to the Palestinians and the mullahs in Iran. This weakness marks a strong contrast from former President Donald Trump’s firm support for Israel, which enabled historic peace deals between Arab Muslim states and Israel.
While Biden has expressed tepid support for Israel, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders have moved to block arms sales to Israel — and Democrats even blocked an amendment to a funding bill that would have paid to help the Iron Dome defense system.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned Biden’s moves to restore the Iran deal, which would involve sanctions relief — relief that may end up funding Hamas’s attacks on Israel.
“America is about to supply Iran with billions of dollars in sanctions relief to continue this. For America’s security, and for that of Israel, this is dangerous,” Pompeo warned.
And America is about to supply Iran with billions of dollars in sanctions relief to continue this. For America’s security, and for that of Israel, this is dangerous. https://t.co/MR9XarISDe
— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) May 21, 2021
The ceasefire seems unlikely to hold, and Haniyeh’s speech makes a resumption of the violence that much more likely.