Yahya Sinwar, the leader of the terrorist group Hamas, said last week that the terror group has 10,000 “martyrs” inside Israel who are “ready to respond” if the fighting between Israel and Hamas resumes.
Sinwar particularly threatened an attack if Israel carried out new operations near holy sites in Jerusalem, such as the Al-Aqsa mosque.
“We are ready for the great battle if the enemy commits a great folly in Jerusalem and the holy sites,” Sinwar said, according to the Jerusalem Post. “We wanted to deliver a message to the occupation and the world that we do not make threats haphazardly so that the world knows that al-Aqsa has men who protect it.”
Sinwar further called on the predominantly Palestinian residents of the Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods in Jerusalem, who are facing eviction, to “be steadfast.” He added that Gaza’s Islamists will back them up in resisting eviction.
Sinwar’s comments came just days after Israel and Hamas reached a ceasefire agreement, putting a pause to days of rocket attacks by Hamas and Israeli retaliatory strikes in the Gaza Strip.
“In the coming period, we will carry out an advanced popular resistance, whose back will be protected by military resistance,” Sinwar also said.
Before the ceasefire was reached, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported it had struck several miles of tunnel dug by Hamas and used by the group to infiltrate Israel and move supplies around the Gaza Strip.
Sinwar said Hamas still has 500 km (about 310.7 miles) of tunnels throughout the Gaza Strip and that less than five percent of the tunnels had been damaged in the recent fighting. Sinwar also said the damaged sections of the tunnel system could be repaired in a matter of days.
“The occupation has failed to destroy the Hamas metro,” Sinwar said, referring to the name for the tunnel network. “The occupation did not achieve anything from its plans to deter the resistance, and it failed to assess the situation due to our preparations.”
Sinwar also denied reports that Israel lured Hamas into the “Metro” tunnel system with false reporting of an Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza strip, before IDF forces bombed the tunnels. Sinwar said, Hamas’s intelligence was “familiar with the enemy’s plans and knew that there would be no ground invasion.”
Sinwar also said that just before the Egypt and Qatar-brokered ceasefire, Hamas had planned to fire 300 rockets in rapid succession, with half of the rockets being targeted at Tel Aviv. Sinwar said Hamas chose not to launch its attack out of respect to the Egyptian and Qatari mediators. He also said Hamas still has the ability to launch hundreds of rockets per minute, with a range of 100-200 km (about 62 to 124 miles).
Following the Israel-Hamas ceasefire agreement, President Joe Biden said the U.S. would replenish Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, which Israel used to intercept dozens of incoming rockets fired by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine.