Hamas threatens new escalation, demands Qatari aid

Either Qatari aid is allowed to flow again or incendiary attacks will increase, the terrorist organization warns.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Hamas is threatening to ratchet up the rate of airborne arson attacks on Israel if it does not receive millions of dollars in aid from Qatar soon, Channel 13 reported Sunday.

The message came after three fires broke out in the Eshkol Region of southern Israel Sunday due to incendiary balloons launched from the Gaza Strip landing on dry brush. The fires were extinguished quickly with little damage caused.

Then, in line with the government’s promise to retaliate even for minor attacks, Israel’s air force hit a military camp belonging to Hamas, and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories reduced the Gazan fishing zone from 12 to six nautical miles.

The network quoted reports from Lebanon stating that the “Resistance” in Gaza will escalate in the coming days, starting with the dispatching of more and more balloons. Dozens of arson attacks have taken place since early May, which still doesn’t approach the large numbers of launchings in previous years that burned hundreds of acres of crops and woodlands throughout Israel’s south.

No monetary aid has been allowed into the Gaza Strip since Operation Guardian of the Walls in May, when the IDF blasted terrorist infrastructure in the coastal enclave in retaliation for thousands of rockets that Hamas indiscriminately shot into Israel.

Jerusalem has stood firm in its pledge to condition the rebuilding of homes in the Gaza Strip destroyed in the bombing on the return of the bodies of two IDF soldiers killed in the 2014 summer war and two Israeli civilians with psychological issues who entered Gaza on their own in 2014 and 2015, respectively. However, essential humanitarian aid resumed flowing into the Strip almost immediately after the May operation was over.

Hamas also threatened escalation last month, albeit of a different kind, if Qatari aid was not allowed to resume. In early June, Hamas sent a message to Israel through the Egyptians saying that if money wasn’t allowed into the Gaza Strip, they would resume sending protestors to the border area.

In 2018 and 2019, the terrorist organization regularly sent demonstrators on Fridays to some five parts of the fence separating the coastal enclave from Israel. The crowds, ranging from a few thousand to tens of thousands at a time, burned tire, and threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli troops protecting the border.

While the IDF soldiers used rubber bullets and tear gas as well as other crowd-control means to keep the protestors away, terrorists used the cover of the mayhem to try to infiltrate into Israel to perpetrate attacks. They were invariably caught either before or immediately after crossing the border.

Qatar has sent hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to Gaza in recent years, with Israel’s blessing. Although Doha insists that its aid is used solely for humanitarian purposes, Jerusalem knows that a good portion of it was siphoned off by Hamas to expand its missile supply and build its terrorist infrastructure, including the tunnel system under Gaza City that was destroyed in large part by the IAF raids in May.

The Israeli government is determined that this time, there will be strict oversight on all aid sent to Gaza so that it gets to the ordinary people who need it rather than to the terrorist organization that rules them with an iron fist.