A shadowy Hamas commander who has long been in Israel’s crosshairs called on Saturday for Arabs and Muslims across the Middle East to “set the Earth on fire under the feet of the occupiers [Israel].”
Mohammed Deif released an audio message in which he dubbed Hamas’s multi-pronged attack “Operation Al-Aqsa Deluge” and called to “expel the occupiers and demolish the walls” of the Jewish state.
He also urged the “Islamic resistance in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon” to “merge their resistance with that of the Palestinians” and “start marching toward Palestine.”
Deif has commanded the Al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza since the 1990s and orchestrated a series of terrorist attacks on Israelis. He also oversaw Hamas’s armament program, its tunnel project and attempts to kidnap Israelis and use them as bargaining chips to secure the release of Palestinian security prisoners.
Deif was the target of an Israeli assassination attempt during the 2014 summer war (“Operation Protective Edge”) between Israel and Hamas.
Unconfirmed video footage was circulating online of Hamas chief Ismael Haniyeh with his deputy Saleh al-Arouri watching footage of the attack from an undisclosed location.
Hamas killed more than 200 Israelis on Saturday as the terrorist organization fired more than 3,000 rockets at the country’s south and center, and dispatched dozens of terrorists into communities located near the Gaza border.
“We are at war, not in an operation or in rounds [of violence], but at war,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video address from the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv.
“I have ordered an extensive mobilization of reserves and that we return fire of a magnitude that the enemy has not known. The enemy will pay an unprecedented price,” he said.