Hamas says war with Israel is only days away

A London paper reports that Hamas believes an attack by Israel is imminent. Netanyahu responds that Israel “not interested” in war but will defend itself.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Al Hayat, an Arabic-language London-based newspaper, reported Sunday that the leaders of Hamas in the Gaza Strip are calculating that the chances of war with Israel are “at 95 percent” and assume it could erupt within days.

The paper further said that the military wing of Hamas has declared a state of the highest alert, evacuating its headquarters and various sites in the Strip, such as the border areas, and spreading its armed forces in civilian areas for fear of an Israeli attack. Other Gaza terror groups, including Islamic Jihad, were reportedly preparing in a similar manner.

The possible cover for such an offensive, they claim, could be the biennial Israeli-American Juniper Cobra training exercise, which is set to take place in the coming days. The drill involves thousands of soldiers and will simulate a major conflict in which Israel is attacked with thousands of missiles from the northern and southern borders at once.

Israeli jets have also struck the Strip twice in the last few days. However, this was in retaliation for two rockets fired from Gaza, one on Thursday night that caused alarms to go off in the Ashkelon Regional Council, and one on Friday night, when sirens sounded in the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council. Three Hamas terror targets were hit in response, the IDF said. Two were part of a military facility and one was an observation post.

The seemingly hysterical announcement by Hamas could just be a way to try and gain the world’s attention following the American decision to halve its first contribution of 2018 to the United Nations organization devoted to the Palestinians (UNRWA).

Israel is not known for invading Gaza preemptively, as evidenced by the three previous operations carried out in the Strip. Indeed, since Israel removed Jewish citizens from Gaza in 2005, all military conflicts there have been in response to massive rocket fire and terror attacks instigated by Hamas.

Before his weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear that Israel is not interested in a war with Hamas, but will “do whatever is necessary” to defend itself.