Israel’s planned annexation of parts of the West Bank constitutes a declaration of war on the Palestinian people, a spokesperson for Hamas’s military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said in a speech on Thursday.
The resistance considers this decision to be a declaration of war upon the Palestinian people. The resistance will be the loyal and dutiful guard of the people throughout this war, acting in defense of our people, our land, and our holy sites. We will make the enemy bite his fingers in remorse for this sinful decision,” the spokesperson, Abu Obeida, said in the speech.
Netanyahu’s annexation plan, which is slated to be launched as early as July 1, has provoked widespread international criticism.
Abu Obeida’s speech was given in honor of the anniversary of the June 25, 2005, kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Shalit was held by Hamas for more than five years before being released in 2011 in a prisoner exchange deal with Israel that saw 1,027 Palestinians freed.
“The day of the kidnapping was an immortal day of power and glory, and an important turning in the history of the resistance and of the Palestinian people as a whole,” Abu Obeida said.
Abu Obeida reaffirmed Hamas’s willingness to come to a new exchange with Israel. In April 2020, Israeli occupation officials confirmed to Hebrew media that they were conducting talks with Hamas for a potential exchange, but no public progress has been made since.
“The achievement of a new prisoner exchange with the occupation rests at the top of our priorities. We remind the occupiers: No deal can go forward without the great leaders and heroic prisoners,” Abu Obeida said.
Hamas official spokesman Fawzi Barhoum later commented on Abu Obeida’s speech, “These statements are an affirmation that should the Israeli occupation proceed with this new blunder in implementing its annexation plan, the next stage will not resemble the one that preceded it.”