Palestinian factions conducted a military exercise in the blockaded Gaza Strip, firing a salvo of rockets into the Mediterranean Sea Tuesday as part of a drill aimed at preparing for a possible war with Israel, as reported by Anadolu Agency (AA).
The training was aimed to "enhance the efficiency and combat readiness of fighters to be able to fight in all different conditions,” Palestinian factions said in the statement.
All armed wings of the Gaza-based factions are taking part in the drill, except the military arm of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement.
"The exercise comes as part of efforts to boost the joint action and cooperation between the military wings of the Palestinian factions,” Abu Hamza, a spokesperson for Saraya al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad group, told a news conference in Gaza City. "This exercise aims to simulate expected threats by the (Israeli) enemy."
On Monday, the Hamas-run Interior Ministry restricted movement along the main coastal road and barred fishing for the duration of the exercises, which were to continue for a period of 24 hours and included the use of aerial drones. The ministry said a number of security and police headquarters will also be evacuated for 24 hours.
The Palestinian foreign minister on Saturday urged Israel to return to talks based on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ahead of the transition to a new U.S. administration. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki's comments came in a joint statement with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry and Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, according to The Associated Press (AP).
In a news conference after their meeting, al-Malki said that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is ready to cooperate with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to establish a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital on territory Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.
"We are ready for cooperation and dealing with the new U.S. administration, and we are expecting that it would re-draw its ties with the state of Palestine,” he said.
The Palestinian diplomat said coordination with Cairo and Amman is a "center point” that would establish a "starting point” in dealing with the incoming Biden administration.
Palestinian negotiators have suffered numerous setbacks under the Trump administration, complaining of what they say are biased steps that favor Israel coming from Washington. Trump has sidelined the PA, recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv, slashed financial assistance for the Palestinians and reversed course on the illegitimacy of Israeli settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians.
Al-Malki also said they have returned to coordinating security with Israel, after Israeli authorities sent a "message, for the first time, that they are abiding to all agreements” made with the Palestinians.
In May, Abbas announced that the PA would cut ties with Israel, including security coordination, following Israel’s pledge to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank.
In a statement following their meeting, the three ministers said they would work to rally international support against Israel’s "illegitimate measures” including the expansion of settlements, the demolishing of dozens of Palestinian homes and seizing of their lands.
"These are illegitimate Israeli actions on the ground that affect all chances to reach a comprehensive peace process that can only happen by the two-state solution,” said Safadi, Jordan's top diplomat, at the news conference.
The ministers said in their statement that Jerusalem’s status should be resolved in the negotiations, calling for Israel "as the occupying power, to stop all violations that target the Arab, Islamic and Christian identity of Jerusalem and its sanctuaries.”
Israel captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 war. The international community considers both areas to be occupied territory, while Palestinians look to include them in a future independent state. Israel, in an internationally unrecognized move, annexed East Jerusalem and considers it part of its capital. Israel has built a far-flung network of settlements that house nearly 700,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Jerusalem since their capture in 1967. The Palestinians want both territories for their future state, viewing them as a violation of international law and an obstacle to peace, with their position receiving international support.