A new jihadi media outlet called Al Fawaris released a video Wednesday calling on Gazans to endure the military operation. Its message said victory looms and that Muslims all over the world support them.
While Hamas is using tactics favored by Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Islamist group has not shown signs of entering the conflict. Analysts say Hezbollah, which has offered words of support for Hamas, is fully occupied with Syria’s civil war.
“Right now, Hezbollah has way too much invested in the Syrian conflict to provoke an unnecessarily destructive war with Israel,” said Daniel Nisman, president of the Levantine Group, a geopolitical risk and research group based in Tel Aviv.
The Middle East Media Research Institute’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor published a report with a video featuring jihadi cleric Abu hareth Al-Maqdisi, who said he and his fighters in Syria want to join the battle in Gaza.
“True, we are fighting in Syria, but our heart yearns to arrive and fight the sons and brothers of the apes and pigs [the Jews],” the institute reported Al-Maqdisi as saying. The jihadi cleric said Gazans must be patient and wait for either victory or martyrdom, and that Allah will soon send “extraordinary soldiers who will fight and defeat the Jews.”
Mr. Kerry reported progress in indirect negotiations, and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal called for a temporary truce to allow humanitarian relief into Gaza. But Mr. Meshaal said his group would keep fighting Israel and would not agree to a more lasting cease-fire without a full negotiation of terms.
“We need the calm for a few hours to evacuate the wounded and assist in the relief. This means a real truce backed by a real relief program offered to the people of Gaza,” Mr. Meshaal said at a news conference in Qatar.
However, he said any permanent cease-fire could be reached only if Israel ends its siege and could be implemented only after full negotiations.
More than 680 Palestinians and 34 Israelis have been killed since fighting began in early July.
Already hurt by mass tourism cancellations, Israel faced increased economic pressure after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration took the rare step Tuesday of banning flights to Tel Aviv and renewed the order Wednesday. Many other foreign carriers, on heightened alert after a Malaysian airliner was shot down over a combat zone in Ukraine last week, followed suit. Israeli carriers continued to operate.
“Hamas‘ success in closing the Israeli airspace is a great victory for the resistance, a terrible failure for Israel that wrecks the image of Israeli deterrence,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. The Tel Aviv stock exchange and shekel were flat, with traders showing little concern about the flight stoppages.
Mr. Kerry landed at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, despite the flight bans, and met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and a grim-faced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He said indirect talks had made some progress but returned later to Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza and has mediated with Hamas.
“We have certainly made some steps forward. There is still work to be done,” said Mr. Kerry, whose most recent efforts at peace negotiations between Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas broke down in April.
Mr. Kerry has been working through Mr. Abbas, Egypt and other regional proxies because the U.S., like Israel, shuns Hamas as a terrorist group. Hamas brushed off the U.S. diplomat’s appeal, saying it would not hold fire without making gains.