Hamas's Qassam Brigades have declared an end to a ceasefire with Israel, according to a statement released on Wednesday evening.
The call to end the truce appeared on Hamas's official website, in both English and Arabic, and is the first time in months that Palestinian armed forces directly under the control of the Hamas government openly threatened to attack Israel.
Abu Obaida, spokesman for the Qassam Brigades, said in the statement that "the truce with the Israeli occupation is no longer valid," citing the "assassination of Islamic Jihad commander" Mahmoud Qassem as the reason.
Qassem was shot dead in the West Bank by Israeli Border Police on Tuesday, after security forces traced a foiled suicide bomb attack planned for Tel Aviv back to him.
In Hamas' statement, Abu Obaida said: "This crime falls in line with a plan to liquidate Palestinian resistance in the West Bank in particular."
"The Zionist enemy continues to try to separate between the Bank and Gaza, and we will not accept that. The assassination in Jenin comes as part of an attempt to take out the Palestinian resistance, especially in the West Bank. We demanded from the start that the ceasefire must include the entire homeland and not be divided at the enemy's discretion," he said.
Abu Obaida called for Palestinian organizations to "unite" and "retaliate" against Israel, saying that "the time has come to restore the honor of the Palestinian resistance."
He added that the Qassam Brigades were "reorganizing their lines in the West Bank after sustaining painful strikes."
Hamas's terrorist cells were largely destroyed in the West Bank by IDF operations in response to a series of bomb attacks between 2001 and 2004, although Hamas remains the strongest armed force in Gaza.
Throughout the duration of the 'truce,' rockets launched from Gaza have continued to land in southern Israel, and security forces say they foiled many terrorist attacks aimed at targets within Israel.
The Hamas website also said that the Islamic Jihad Quds Brigades fired two "upgraded Quds missiles at Sderot and Majdal (Arabic for Ashkelon) as a premilinary retaliation to the assassination of Qassem," on Wednesday.
A Fatah faction claimed it too fired rockets, targeting an IDF post.
It should be noted that the statement is not a formal announcement from the Hamas movement as a whole.
Naif Hawatma, director of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said on Wednesday that Hamas is involved and supportive of the political process.
Hawatma said in an interview to Al-Halig, a United Arab Emirates newspaper, that Hamas is pushing with all its might for a political solution, that it is in contact with European officials and that it will soon reveal its commitment to the political process.
Ali Waked contributed to this report