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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Ramallah - Asharq Al-Awsat

'Islamic Jihad' Maneuvers in Gaza Block Access to Sea

The Al-Quds Brigades kicked off on Monday a days-long military drill in the Gaza Strip. (Reuters)

The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian "Islamic Jihad", kicked off on Monday a days-long military drill in the Gaza Strip. The group had blocked entry to Gaza’s beach in preparation for the maneuver.

Abu Hamza, the military spokesperson of the Brigades, said in a statement that the "Azm Al-Sadiqin" (Will of the Honest) maneuvers are part of efforts to raise the combat readiness of their fighters.

They will simulate "various field operations with the participation of several military formations, most notably the missile and artillery units," said Abu Hamza.

He added that "the maneuvers are a preparation for any future battle with the Israeli occupation."

The Al-Quds Brigades shared short videos on its website showing the firing of "rockets and missiles towards the sea" at supposed targets.

The Islamic Jihad is considered the second most powerful military faction in Gaza. It has strong ties with Hamas and often cooperates with the movement during most military confrontations against Israel.

For its part, Gaza’s Interior Ministry announced the suspension of the fishing movement and the entry of boats of all kinds to marine areas extending to the end of the sea borders of Khan Yunis in the southern Strip.

The ministry banned Gazans from going to sea during the maneuvers.

The drill aligns with Israeli assessments that the Jihad is seeking an escalation.

Fitting Israeli assessments, a missile was launched from Gaza towards Ashkelon on Saturday. Israel believed that the Jihad was behind the attack.

The Jihad's only other drill took place after the Palestinian Resistance factions launched the Al-Rukn Al-Shadid 2 joint military exercises in Gaza in late December.

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