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A few days after the IDF’s operation to recapture the al-Aqsa mosque compound from the militant group Hamas, a number of military officers and top officials returned to the headquarters in Tel Aviv for a routine checkup.
In a series of phone calls and a series on television, senior IDF officials and defense ministers made clear that the military was ready to resume operations.
The operation that was announced on Wednesday, which ended nearly two weeks ago, included the assassination of the Hamas commander, Imad Abu Khdeir, and the capture of the al-“Aqs” compound.
Israel, which has taken the unusual step of announcing a full offensive in a city that was captured by the militant organization in 2014, said it would begin an operation to restore the compound’s security and restore it to its original state.
“The operation was conducted with a clear message to the people of Gaza that this is an offensive operation and there is no room for excuses,” said IDF Spokesman Lt.
Col. Peter Lerner.
“This was a very clear operation, and we know that it will go forward.”
The operation took place as the IDF and Hamas were battling each other over the al-‘Aqsan compound, the third holiest site in Islam.
Israel captured the compound in 2014 and declared it the Jewish Quarter.
The Islamic Jihad organization, which Hamas considers an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood, considers it part of its territory.
Israel has claimed it seized it in an offensive in 2014.
The al-‘Ahsa Mosque, which serves as the holy site for Jews and Muslims, has been the target of frequent rocket attacks by Hamas.
The al-‘Awas complex has been under threat from militant groups since 2014.
Since then, there have been multiple rocket attacks on the compound.
In a video posted on YouTube on Tuesday, senior Hamas official Fawzi Barhoum said that “it is time for the people in Gaza to realize that the al’-Awas (Temple) is our temple and that we will not give up.”
On Wednesday, Barhoun called for the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli forces from the compound, saying, “They must be evacuated, they must be expelled.”
Barhoum and other senior Hamas figures also called on Hamas and Fatah to negotiate an end to the fighting in Gaza, a rare public call from Hamas officials in recent months.
The Palestinian Authority is not expected to respond.
The two sides did not immediately comment on the calls.
The attack on the al’Awas compound was not the first time Israel has targeted the compound since 2014, and it was the first to hit it in the past year.
Israel and Hamas battled for years over the city, which lies on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip, but the two sides stopped fighting in 2007 following the collapse of the long-time Fatah-led government.
In recent years, the two factions have been fighting over control of the border crossing that carries the majority of the roughly 200,000 Palestinians who live in the area.
The latest escalation came as the United States condemned the Israeli assault on the site, calling it a “significant escalation.”
The U.S. State Department said it is “deeply concerned about the continued deterioration of the situation in the al ‘Aqsum compound.”
It is a grave situation, one that requires urgent attention from all sides.
The U.N. Security Council is in the process of considering Security Council Resolution 2270, which calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities.