Hamas chief says they are ‘ready’ if Israel seeks escalation

Ismail Haniyeh

The head of Hamas said they are “ready” if Israel escalates violence.

“If (Israel) wants to escalate, we are ready for it, and if it wants to stop, we’re also ready,” Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s leader who currently lives outside the strip, said in a televised address.

On Monday, the rocket fire came after Hamas, which rules Gaza, issued an ultimatum demanding Israel stand down its security forces from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem after days of violence against Palestinians.

The group said they also launched 130 rockets towards the Israeli city of Tel Aviv in retaliation for an air strike that levelled a 12-storey building in Gaza on Tuesday.

Hamas’s armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, had warned it would retaliate over the strike on the tower near Gaza’s coast, before confirming it had launched an attack on “Tel Aviv and its suburbs with 130 missiles”.

However, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Hamas and the Islamic Jihad will “pay a very heavy price.”

Israeli medics confirmed the death of 50-year-old woman from rocket attacks near Tel Aviv.

Several people were also reported injured.

Al Jazeera reported that a pipeline belonging to an Israeli state-owned energy company was hit in a rocket attack from Gaza on Tuesday.

More than 700 Palestinians were hurt in Jerusalem and across the occupied West Bank in recent days.

The Israeli military has continued its bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip on Tuesday, targeting several areas after rockets were fired from the enclave.

Health authorities in Gaza said at least 28 Palestinians – including 10 children – were killed in Israeli air strikes on the strip since late on Monday.