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Hamas chief warns Israel against pre-election military 'adventure'

Hamas says it does not care who wins Israeli elections. [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 March, 2019

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Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh warned Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu against a military operation in Gaza ahead of Israeli elections in April.

Hamas warned Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday against any military "adventure" in Gaza ahead of Israeli elections next month.

Netanyahu is currently battling for re-election for a fifth term, facing a tough challenge from a centrist political alliance as well as a planned indictment on corruption charges.

Israel and Hamas, which controls the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, have fought three wars since 2008.

Many analysts, however, believe Netanyahu would want to avoid an escalation in Gaza with unpredictable results ahead of April 9 polls.

Asked about a potential Israeli military operation, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told journalists: "If the (Israeli) occupation or Netanyahu think of an adventure, I think they will pay the price that will send them away."

"We do not fear any adventures from Netanyahu towards Gaza... The resistance has its eyes open," added Haniyeh, whose movement has a military wing.

He added that Hamas did not care who won the Israeli elections.

A centrist alliance headed by former military chief Benny Gantz has overtaken right-winger Netanyahu, who is dogged by corruption allegations, in a series of polls.

But it is unclear if Gantz would be able to assemble enough parties to form a coalition.

Gantz's emergence and comments about separating from the Palestinians have been welcomed by the secular Palestinian leadership, headed by president Mahmoud Abbas.

But Hamas, which unlike the Abbas-led Palestine Liberation Organisation, has not recognised Israel, said the elections made no difference.

"We do not care who will come to rule in the occupation (state)," Haniyeh said.

He also accused Israel of breaching an informal truce agreement struck in November, under which Israel would allow Qatari aid to enter Gaza in exchange for calm on the border.

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