Hamas stressed on Friday that Gaza demonstrations, dubbed “The Great March of Return,” demanding the right to return for the Palestinians driven out of their homeland, would intensify despite Tel Aviv's threats.
The statement came hours after Israeli minister of military affairs Avigdor Lieberman warned Hamas leaders that the regime was prepared to go to war in Gaza in the case of renewed tensions in the blockaded coastal sliver.
He also indicated that Israel had been holding back on a harsh response to Gaza rallies to prevent an all-out conflict during the Jewish holidays over the past few weeks.
“We’ve been through the High Holidays exactly as we planned, without a flare-up and by exacting a heavy price on the rioters along the Gaza border,” he tweeted on Friday morning. “The holidays are over, and I say to the heads of Hamas: ‘Take that into account.’”
On Thursday, Lieberman had ordered the Israeli army to maintain “maximum preparedness for any scenario” in Gaza.
Hamas, however, emphasized that the Palestinian people "pay no attention" to the Israeli minister's warning.
"Lieberman's threats are empty and will not harm the resilience of the Palestinian people," the resistance group said. "The March of Return will only get stronger; it is not affected by threats."
The Gaza Strip has been under a crippling Israeli siege since 2007 and witnessed three wars since 2008. Israel carries out regular attacks on Gaza under the pretext of hitting positions belonging to the Hamas resistance movement.
The coastal sliver has also witnessed a fresh wave of tensions since March 30, which marked the start of “The Great March of Return” protests.
Over 190 Palestinians have been killed and some 20,000 others wounded in renewed Gaza clashes, according to the latest figures released by the Gaza Health Ministry.
Separately on Friday, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said that another war in the Gaza Strip "is in no one's interest."
In a rare interview published in the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth
and Italian newspaper La Repubblica
, Sinwar expressed Hamas' willingness to exchange prisoners as part of any future agreement with Israel to end the Gaza blockade.
“We are always under occupation. It's a daily aggression. It's just of varying intensity,” he said.
Sinwar also noted that the best assurance of prolonged quiet in Gaza is investment and development in the Palestinian territory, saying, "There are no military solutions to political problems."
"Quiet in exchange for quiet, and in exchange for an end to the siege," he added. "The siege is not quiet."