Abu Ahmad, a senior al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades commander in the Gaza Strip said Saturday evening that "Israel
must not count on our internal struggles. If it attacks, it will find us all united against it."
In a special Ynet interview, Abu Hamad stated that although the Israelis view the Palestinian society as weak due to internal rifts,
the Palestinians are ready to unit against Israel.
"If Israel thinks about invading the Strip, it will find us united – Fatah, Hamas and the rest of the organizations – and will be hit with a war that will cause heavy losses," he warned.
"It seems as if we are only engaged with ourselves. But if Israel does anything stupid and launched a ground operation, it will be surprised to discover that also during these difficult times we have managed to develop our capabilities. And then you will really start talking about southern Lebanon in the Strip," he added.
Do you mean that you have improved antitank missiles?
"I am not going to get into details about what we have and don’t have. I will only say that in the past year we have been in a situation of 'a warrior's rest,' during which we improved our abilities in spite of the recurring Israeli invasions.
"It is clear to us that these operations across the Strip are only in preparation for the real war over Gaza, which will break out when Olmert and Peretz's political condition will become more entangled. We will use the antitank missiles, the various shells and much more standard explosives. But we will mainly manifest greater fighting skills."
And how do you explain the fact that after a full withdrawal from the Strip, the area is still on fire and you continue to fire missiles? It's like you are inviting Israel to reenter the territories it left.
"First of all, there was no full withdrawal here. What good does a withdrawal of the army do if the crossings continue to be fully controlled by Israel? Israel has turned the Strip into one big prison, and has in fact imposed a great siege on the Strip since the disengagement. Since the withdrawal the conditions in Gaza have only worsened.
"Second, we are not inviting anyone anywhere. The Israelis are the ones continuing to kill the Palestinians, and if they thought that if they withdrew from Gaza we would not care about the West Bank, they are wrong. We will not let them divide the Palestinian people and the Palestinian land.
"An Israeli escalation in the West Bank means an escalation in the Strip and requires that we respond using all means. In addition, since the withdrawal, the firing of rockets was always in response to the Israeli crimes in the West Bank and the Strip."
Officials in the Israeli defense establishment say that the Strip, due to the smuggling from Sinai, is turning into southern Lebanon.
"There is no doubt that we have accumulated weapons, developed weapons and imported new weapons, but the Israelis are talking about Lebanon and Gaza mainly in order to justify the offensive they are planning. And I am telling you that an invasion of Gaza will not be a fieldtrip.
"I call on the Israeli people to prevent their government from carrying out this nonsense. We want calm – but calm which begins with a full withdrawal, with transferring the control at the crossing to the Palestinians and with giving the Palestinian people room to breath. And in particular, calm that begins with launching a real diplomatic process, and not a siege and starving the Palestinian people.
"If there is a real diplomatic horizon, there will be something to talk about. But if the Israelis continue to talk to us using the language of violence, blood, invasions, assassinations and threats, they will find themselves humiliated in the Strip, as they were humiliated in Lebanon. And if this doesn’t happen during this round, it will happen in the next rounds. We will not surrender."
Do you see yourself fighting against Israeli soldiers alongside Hamas activists after all the blood spilled on both sides in the past weeks?
"In Arabic there is a proverb that says, 'Me and my brother against my cousin, me and my cousin against the outsiders.' In the meantime, the cousins are massacring us, so me and my brother from Hamas have no choice but to unite the ranks and fight together.
"In spite of the pain of internal bloodshed and in spite of the inflaming caused by interested elements on both sides, there is no doubt that in a situation of an Israeli operation against us we will fight together."