"The situation is terrible. A bomb explodes nearly every minute. It's a real catastrophe," former Hamas spokesman Ribhi Rantisi told Ynet Friday as the third day of Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense came to a close. "All of the businesses are closed and the streets are empty. No one goes outside."
Rantisi said the only thing that is encouraging Gaza's residents is information on the firing of rockets toward Israel, and particularly toward relatively distant targets such as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. "This is what comforts the residents here. Hamas' response to the killing of (its military chief Ahmed) Jabari and the bombardment of Gaza is bringing great joy to the residents," the Hamas member said.
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"There were outpourings of joy on the streets when the people learned of the rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and even further, on Ramat Hasharon."
Due to the disinformation Hamas is spreading in Gaza, the residents of the coastal enclave are certain that rockets are raining on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Moreover, residents are telling media outlets that Hamas has successfully hit two Israeli fighter jets with anti-aircraft missiles. Israel has denied any damage to its planes.
'Not involved in rocket fire.' Jabari funeral in Gaza (Photo: Reuters)
"We are not counting the rocket landings (in Israel). We don’t need a hundred rockets to fall, but the fact that rockets have reached Tel Aviv pleases the residents, because this is a huge achievement," Rantisi told Ynet.
However, Rantisi said, Hamas wants a ceasefire with Israel. "We seek calm. We do not desire death. We desire life," he said. Asked why the terror organizations continue to fire rockets if they are not interested in escalation, Rantisi said Hamas and Jabari had nothing to do with the rocket fire on Israel over the past few weeks.
Addressing Jabari's assassination, the Hamas member said, "Israel was negotiating with Jabari, so why did you (kill him)?"
Rantisi said the assassination only bolstered Hamas. "You took out Hamas' top leaders, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Salah Shehadeh, Ibrahim al-Makadmeh , Ismail Abu Shanab - and what were the results? Hamas won the elections; it drove the IDF out of Gaza and released prisoners (who were held in Israel). So what weakness are you talking about when you kill leaders?"
According to Rantisi, every leader who is killed is succeeded by an even more determined one.
The Hamas figure said that in the event of an Israeli ground offensive, "we will defend ourselves with whatever we have in our hands. We have no other choice."
Addressing Egypt's support for Gaza during the latest round of violence, Rantisi said, "We know (Egyptian President Mohammed) Morsi will not abandon Gaza."
You can contact Elior Levy, Ynet's Palestinian Affairs Correspondent, at: firstname.lastname@example.org