Israel issues strong warning against Hamas and Islamic Jihad

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"When they kill men of the resistance, and especially from Islamic Jihad, we have no other choice but to punish the occupier, and continue to strengthen the buildup of forces from a conflict", al-Batash reportedly said.

Amid increasing tensions between Israel and Islamic Jihad, the militant group has raised its state of readiness to its 'highest level, ' according to a report in the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat.

The fresh Israeli campaign of confrontation comes as Palestinian factions Fatah, based in Ramallah, and Hamas, which used to run the Gaza Strip, have reached a national unity deal created to bridge the political rift between them and to allow Fatah to govern the coastal enclave. The IDF believes that the group is planning a major terror attack, but by doing so, "it is playing with fire on the backs of Gaza residents, and at the expense of its reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority". The destruction from three Israeli offensives since 2008, including damage to the enclave's water, sanitation, energy, and medical facilities, coupled with slow reconstruction due to the blockade, led the United Nations to warn that Gaza could be "uninhabitable" by 2020. A total of 14 terrorists were killed in the aftermath of the tunnel collapse, including two senior Islamic Jihad field commanders. Gen. Yoav Mordechai warned the Islamic Jihad to abandon plans to take revenge on Israel, saying that Israel knows of their plans and is prepared to repel them. "We would recommend that Islamic Jihad be cautious in its actions", Mordechai said.

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The event was considered by Islamic Jihad to be "a declaration of war" by Israel, and stated "it is our right to respond to any aggression, including the right to respond to the crime of attacking the tunnel east of Dir al-Balah, where 12 Mujahideen from Al-Qassam and Saraya al-Quds fell".

The Islamic Jihad responded by saying that the IDF's statement was a "declaration of war".

"We will respond to it", the militant movement said in a statement, stressing it had "the right to respond" to the blowing up of the tunnel. "There are those who still amuse themselves these days by trying to renew attacks against Israel", Netanyahu remarked at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday. "We will take a very firm stance against anyone who tries to attack us or attacks us from any area".

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