Palestinian Islamic Jihad was “about to launch rockets at Tel Aviv when the ceasefire [with Israel] stopped it from happening,” the terrorist group’s leader, Ziad Nakhala, told the Beirut-based Al Mayadeen TV station on Tuesday.

Nakhala, who was in Egypt when the latest round of violence between Israel and Gaza-based terrorist groups erupted last Friday, outlined in the interview how events unfolded and also issued threats against Israel.

“We used sniper fire in response to [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers shooting at our innocent, demonstrating civilians,” he said, adding that “we will continue until all our objectives are met. What happened in the most recent escalation was a preparation for the next major battle. From now on, the rocket fire will focus primarily on Tel Aviv and other large cities.”

Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nakhala. Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

Nakhala, who currently resides in Beirut, continued: “The test will be during the March of Return demonstrations on Fridays, on Nakba Day and on the one-year anniversary of the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to holy Jerusalem. If there are casualties among our people, it is our right to respond and that’s what we will do. We will intercept the enemy’s soldiers on the border and launch long-range rockets beyond Tel Aviv. We are not afraid of the Zionist enemy. We defeated the occupation army in every round of escalation and we will do it again.”

The terrorist leader claimed that “Israel attacked civilian buildings and that forced us to respond strongly. There was no prior plan for it. We still insist that Gaza is under siege and demonstrators are coming under live fire during the March of Return protests. The siege must be lifted from Gaza. We are handling it. In the meantime, Israel is making promises to Egypt and isn’t keeping them.”

Nakhala took aim at countries in the Arab world, accusing them of remaining silent in the face of what he said was U.S.-backed Israeli aggression.

He also said there were numerous signs that a war against Gaza would be launched “this summer,” and that his organization was prepared. Asked if he thinks such a war will entail demilitarizing the Gaza Strip, Nakhala said yes.

Nakhala believes that the United States and Egypt sought the current ceasefire. According to the terrorist leader, Israel faced a dilemma: on the one hand it wanted to continue fighting, and on the other were Independence Day celebrations, set to begin Wednesday night.

Hence he expects a war to erupt over the summer. In his view, it will be a large-scale war amid the backdrop of American machinations the region.

This article first appeared on Israel Hayom.