Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas's deputy leader, spoke publicly on Friday for the first time since the recent escalation in and around the Gaza Strip.
Speaking at a mosque Friday before prayers, Haniyeh said, "We are not calling for a new war, but we will not allow incursions or imposing facts on the ground by Israel in Gaza."
Haniyeh explained that the Palestinians objected the Israeli prohibition on Palestinian traffic in the "perimeter," a 300-meter buffer zone inside the Strip and bordering the frontier. "We say no to the perimeter inside of Gaza's borders, and Israel must understand this," he stated. "We are in contact with Egypt, Qatar, Turkey and also with the UN's (Special Coordinator for Middle East Peace Process) Nickolay Mladenov to bring an end to the Israeli escalation, and these efforts are continuing."
The Israeli Security Cabinet met on Friday for four hours. Defense officials updated the ministers on the Israel Defense Forces' operations in recent days and on the uncovering of Hamas tunnels. The leak of a draft of the state comptroller's report on the failures in Operation Protective Edge was not brought up during the meeting.
Despite the recent tensions between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minster of Education Naftali Bennett, no clash was reported between the two. In opposition to the last meeting, this meeting was to the point.
Meanwhile, Palestinian sources claimed on Friday afternoon that three IDF engineering vehicles passed through the security fence near Beit Hanoun, covered by two tanks. The IDF is continuing its operation to locate tunnels used in other locations along the Strip's border.
Overnight, Palestinians fired a mortar shell at an area before Beit Lahia, but it exploded in Palestinian territory. On Friday morning, Palestinians fired at least two mortars at IDF forces; there were no injuries. The Israeli Air Force attacked targets in Gaza in response.
Last month, tunnels were discovered that went under the fence into Israel. After that, mortars from Gaza were fired towards engineering vehicles that were working in the field. In the days that followed, the mortar fired continued, targeting IDF forces. Israeli tanks responded by firing at Hamas positions in Sajaya.
The IDF confirmed this shelling. The Palestinians reported that the Israelis targeted Hamas's military wing. This was an observation post located east of Sajaya, in north-central Gaza. Following the Israeli shelling, the Education Ministry evacuated two schools in Sajaya.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza blamed Israeli entirely for the recent escalation in the Gaza Strip. One of the Hamas spokesmen the Strip, Mushir Al Masri, warned Israel not to try the patience of Hamas and the other Palestinian factions. He warned that Israel's escalation is a new development, and the factions are in contact between themselves to decide how to handle it.