December 17, 2018
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh praised "resistance" in Judea and Samaria in a speech to tens of thousands on Sunday after recent deadly attacks against Israelis.
Haniyeh made the comments at a rally in Gaza City for the 31st anniversary of the Islamist terrorist movement's founding.
"We place our hopes in the West Bank, which is the main area where events are occurring and the most appropriate area to resolve the conflict with our Zionist enemy," he told the crowd, which waived green Hamas flags.
"The West Bank has shaken and stood up with glory, strength and skill, as if it wanted to say to our people on the occasion of this glorious anniversary that it was with the resistance, in total harmony."
Members of Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, participated in the rally in camouflage and carrying rifles, while presenting a range of weapons.
Hamas runs the Gaza Strip but also has a presence in Judea and Samaria, where its rivals from Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah are based.
Terrorists in Gaza, including Hamas, have fought three wars with Israel since 2008.
The group has claimed several recent terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria, which has seen an upsurge in violence over the past week.
They included a December 9 attack near an Israeli town north of Jerusalem that led to the death of a baby prematurely delivered after his mother was shot and wounded. A total of seven people were wounded in the attack.
An October 7 terrorist shooting in the Barkan Industrial Zone that killed two Israelis was also claimed by Hamas.
In another attack on Thursday, two soldiers were shot dead near the town of Givat Assaf.
The two terrorists behind the attacks claimed by Hamas were shot dead by Israeli forces during arrest raids last week, Israeli officials said.
Israel's security forces have also carried out raids in Ramallah and say they have also arrested at least 37 Hamas operatives in connection with recent violence.
Earlier Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he had issued a warning to Hamas after the recent attacks.
He referred to a controversial Gaza ceasefire in November that ended the worst escalation between Israel and Hamas since a 2014 war.
"I conveyed a clear message to Hamas — we won't accept a situation of a truce in Gaza and terror in Judea and Samaria," Netanyahu said.
"We will exact a high price over them," he said of the attacks.
As part of efforts to restore calm in Gaza, Israel has allowed Qatar to bring fuel and tens of millions of dollars to the territory for salaries.