Gaza’s Islamic Jihad Says It’s Ready for Next Round of Fighting With Israel, Will Employ Hamas’ Tunnel Strategy
Terrorist organizations in Gaza are busy rearming, Israel’s NRG reported on Tuesday. In the six months since last summer’s Operation Protective Edge – and with Gaza’s restoration in sight – armed Islamist groups in the coastal enclave have been preparing for their next fight. Gaza’s ruling Hamas has already declared that it is ready for the next war with Israel, and now Palestinian Islamic Jihad has joined them.
The fighters in PIJ’s armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigade, told a BBC reporter that they also intend to follow Hamas’ lead in digging tunnels and using them against Israel. They’ve decided to adopt this tactic because of the effectiveness of the tunnels against Israel in last summer’s conflict, according to the report.
Quentin Somerville of the BBC, who conducted the interviews, described PIJ as a well-trained, disciplined fighting force which is working on preparing and developing attack tunnels. The fighters told Somerville that, “during the last war, we realized that we are risking whatever remains above ground. The tunnels are our hiding places, that shield us from the Zionist enemy…we will use them to launch missiles.”
The BBC reporter then asked the PIJ fighters what they had achieved from their war with Israel last summer besides a high level of Palestinian casualties. They responded that their greatest achievement was “successfully challenging the infidel enemy, and that we can still say no to them. No to the occupation, and that we can resist them.”
During his tour of the Gaza Strip, Somerville was blindfolded on multiple occasions to hide the tunnel entrances from him. He said the tunnels were dug at a depth of twenty feet, and were built to allow the firing of mortars, rockets and anti-tank missiles.
When it comes to the Gaza Strip’s relations with Egypt – which recently listed Hamas as a terrorist organization – the fighters told the BBC that “Egypt plays a very important role in the Palestinian issue,” but they didn’t hide their frustration with Cairo’s positions either. When they were asked when they anticipated the next conflict to arise, one responded half-jokingly, “with Israel or with Egypt?”
Marwan Issa, considered slain terror chief Ahmad Jaabari’s replacement as the head of the military wing of Hamas – the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades – said last week that the terrorist organization is producing rockets, arming and building up towards a future conflict with Israel, but was not seeking a renewal of fighting immediately.