The group, called the Al-Zawari Unit, said in a statement on Wednesday that its members do not receive orders from any faction in the Gaza Strip.
The group is named after Muhammad al-Zawari, an aviation engineer who was assassinated near his home in Sfax, Tunisia, on December 15, 2016. Zawari, a senior operative of Hamas’s military wing Izzadin al-Qassam, commanded the terrorist group’s drone-manufacturing program.
The Al-Zawari Unit was responding to a report in the east Jerusalem daily Al-Quds which claimed that Hamas had agreed to gradually reduce the number of incendiary kites and balloons being launched toward southern Israel.
Al-Quds quoted unnamed “informed sources” as saying that Hamas leaders who met in the Gaza Strip took the decision in order to avoid a war with Israel.
The Hamas decision followed contacts with Egypt, which pointed out the need to stop the attacks so as not to give Israel an excuse to launch a major military operation in the Gaza Strip, the newspaper said.
According to the report, the arson attacks will be halted by next week.
In response, the Al-Zawari Unit said that the report was “completely untrue.” It also denied a report that Hamas had deployed forces along the border with Israel in order to prevent the attacks.
Hamas officials did not comment on the report.
“This morning, our unit went out to launch its balloons towards our occupied territories to prove to everyone that we don’t receive orders from anyone, and that our peaceful protest will continue until we achieve our demands and until the siege [on the Gaza Strip] is lifted,” the Al-Zawari Unit added. “The factions in the Gaza Strip will not stand in the way of the peaceful protest.”
Despite the announcement, sources in the Gaza Strip said Wednesday that Egypt has been pressuring Hamas to stop the kite and balloon attacks.
The sources said that Egyptian intelligence officers warned Hamas leaders that Israel was close to launching a major military operation in the Gaza Strip in response to the attacks.