JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—The leader of Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian terrorist organization responsible for scores of rocket attacks against Israeli civilians, declared on the day before the Passover holiday that the group will continue to fight for Israel’s destruction.
Sheikh Nafez Azzam made his declaration Thursday night at an Islamic Jihad rally in Gaza City, vowing to resume the “struggle” against Israel despite the cease-fire brokered by Egypt last month that ended barrages of hundreds of terrorist missiles on southern Israel and retaliatory strikes by the Israel Defense Forces.
Azzam’s statement followed a promise of retaliation by Israel in response to the launching of a Grad missile at Eilat on Thursday midnight by Palestinian terrorists in Sinai. Although both Israeli and Egyptian security forces were searching for the terrorists, their affiliation has not yet been determined.
The Eilat attack, followed immediately by Azzam’s threats, have increased Israel’s security alert before the Passover holiday, but the closure of the territories is a routine security measure taken before every Jewish holiday.
The IDF closed the West Bank crossings just before midnight Thursday, as Passover begins Friday at sundown. Under the ban, only Palestinians needing medical care are allowed to cross into Israel. The ban will expire on Saturday at midnight.
“We are continuing the struggle and the jihad,” Azzam said at the Gaza rally, parts of which were broadcast on Israeli television. “We will not be broken. We will not surrender. We will not accept the conditions Israel tries to impose.”
Azzam’s remarks were preceded by a warning earlier Thursday by IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, who promised swift retaliation for Thursday’s rocket strike at Eilat. The Grad rocket hit just 100 meters from residential buildings, but caused no damage. Several residents were treated for shock.
“The long arm of the State of Israel ultimately reaches everyone trying to harm citizens of Israel and the Jewish people,” Gantz said.
This Passover marks the tenth anniversary of a Palestinian terrorist attack on Netanya’s Park Hotel, in which a suicide bomber murdered 29 people celebrating the Passover Seder.