Hamas says it is determined to continue "resistance" against Israel as it warns of an "explosion" amid Tel Aviv's crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Addressing thousands of residents in Gaza on Thursday, top leader Ismail Haniyeh said, “Hamas and the sons of Hamas are committed to resistance and determined to pursue the intifada (uprising).”
"We say to the Zionist occupier that our people can no longer stand the blockade" which Israel imposed on Gaza in 2006. "It is our right to have a port and an airport," in Gaza, he added.
Haniyeh warned that there “will be an explosion” unless the regime in Tel Aviv lifts its blockade on the enclave of 1.8 million people.
He made the comments amid rising tensions between the Israeli military and settlers and Palestinian protesters.
More than 210 Palestinians, including children and women, have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces since the beginning of last October.
On April 18, an explosion hit a bus in al-Khalil (Hebron), injuring 20 Israelis on board.
Tensions have intensified since August 2015, when Israel imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
Troops scuffled with Palestinians in Nablus in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday and Thursday as they tried to secure the area for Israeli extremists near Joseph’s Tomb.
The Israeli army troops fired tear gas and grenades to disperse the Palestinians.
Israel rejects French 'peace' plan
On Thursday, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a French plan to push forward "peace" efforts, saying direct talks were the only way to resolve the conflict.
Israel also rejected the Palestinian Authority's request to stop all military operations in Area A of the West Bank, prompting chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat to hit out at Tel Aviv's intransigence.
"This is a ratification of the Israeli government's decision to continue on with their crimes and offenses," Erekat said.
He also said Netanyahu's call for bilateral negotiations is "an attempt at legitimizing its settlement enterprise and the imposition of an Apartheid regime."
Erekat called on the international community to acknowledge the "overdue" recognition of a Palestinian state and ban products made in Israeli settlements.
He also urged world leaders to issue overarching condemnation of Israeli policies that he said were "systematic violations of international law and UN resolutions."
Protection for Palestinians
In New York, Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour said the United Nations Security Council is set to discuss providing international protection for Palestinians during an informal May 6 meeting.
“We would like to see an international force to separate between us and the Israeli occupying authorities,” Mansour said.
The Palestinians, he said, are already discussing the matter with the office of UN chief Ban Ki-moon to see if there are steps that can be taken to protect the Palestinians even without a new resolution.