Shafaqna Pakistan:Hamas says it has shot down an Israeli drone over the Gaza Strip where tensions have heightened amid an Israeli threat to launch a ground war on the besieged enclave.
A source in Hamas said the Palestinian resistance movement brought down the quadcopter in northern Gaza Strip on Sunday evening.
Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post, however, cited some reports as saying that the drone had flown out of the area after being shot at.
Hamas has confiscated Israeli drones several times, either after they crashed due to technical problems or in the wake of shooting them down.
The targeting of the drone comes amid heightened tensions in Gaza where Israeli aircraft launched airstrikes on Khan Yunis and other areas in the besieged strip on Friday, killing a 27-year-old civilian and wounding two others.
The Israeli military claimed that the Friday air raids were launched in response to the firing of 10 rockets into the occupied territories from Gaza.
Following the air raids, a high-ranking official from Hamas warned Israel against escalating tensions, saying Tel Aviv would face the consequences.
The Israeli military frequently bombs Gaza, with civilians being the main target of such attacks.
Israel has launched several wars on the Palestinian coastal enclave, the last of which began in early July 2014. The military aggression, which ended on August 26, 2014, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians. Over 11,100 others were wounded.
Minister: Israel may launch war on Gaza
Amid the escalating tensions along the fence separating the occupied territories from Gaza, Israeli energy minister and member of the scuity cabinet Yuval Steinitz threatened on Sunday that Tel Aviv might have to launch a military operation in the coastal enclave.
“We hoped to reach an agreement before a large military operation, and as it seems right now, we may have to set out on a big army operation and only then reach an agreement,” Steinitz said in an interview with Army Radio.
“If there is no choice and we want to destroy the Hamas regime, it will have to be a ground operation, and this comes at a price,” he added.
Hamas ready to face the enemy
Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar said Sunday that Palestinian resistance groups were ready to confront any aggression as he dismissed a prisoner swap with Israel.
“They don’t have a functional government to discuss major issues. They cannot take decisive and crucial decisions at this point and we are ready to face the enemy,” he said.
Israel’s so-called security cabinet convened for a lengthy-meeting on Sunday for the third time in a week, which is very unusual for an interim regime.
Rafi Peretz, the leader of the Jewish Home political party and a cabinet member, said he “experienced on Saturday the rocket alerts and the firebombs, and again we couldn’t sit down for a Saturday dinner.”
“This can’t go on. The heads of Hamas will be made to pay a price for this,” he said.
Fellow party member Bezalel Smotrich, however, called for caution.
“It’s easy to speak harshly, it’s easy to say ‘let’s go out on an attack.’ It’s important to understand that the space we are operating in is very complicated, and we need to act responsibly,” he said.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held Hamas responsible for any attack emanating from Gaza.
“I don’t intend to detail our plans here. We will continue to operate in all the arenas for the safety of …Israel, in overt and covert measures – through the sea, in the air and on the ground,” he tweeted.
The situation in the Gaza Strip, under an Israeli siege since June 2007, is unsustainable. The blockade has caused a decline in the standards of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.
Palestinians in Gaza have been holding weekly rallies as part of the Great March of Return since March 30, 2018, calling for an end to the crippling 11-year Israeli blockade.