Hamas leader says group ‘ready’ for Israeli escalation

Ismail Haniya says Israel bears all the responsibility for the consequences of ‘igniting a fire in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa’.

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Hamas leader Ismail Haniya says the group told mediators it is ‘ready’ if Israel increases its attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip.“If Israel wants to escalate, the resistance is ready; and if they want to stop, the resistance is ready,” Haniya, who currently lives outside the Strip, said in a televised address late on Tuesday.

“This is the message that we delivered to all the sides and to whoever is involved,” he added, referring to discussions held with regional leaders since the recent escalation of violence.

Hostilities flared after Hamas, which rules the besieged Gaza Strip, issued an ultimatum on Monday demanding that Israel stands down its security forces from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City after a violent crackdown against Palestinians.

Monday marked the third consecutive day that Israeli police raided Islam’s third holiest site, firing rubber-coated steel rounds, stun grenades and tear gas at Palestinian worshippers in the final days of the holy month of Ramadan.

The escalation came on the back of mounting tensions over the looming forced expulsion of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem that Jewish settlers have been trying to move in for decades.

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