On April 30, 2022, Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, gave his first speech in almost a year. Standing before a picture of Israeli security forces at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Sinwar said that this image of the "desecration" of Al-Aqsa must never be allowed to repeat itself, and that "thousands" of synagogues and Jewish temples throughout the world will be desecrated if it does.
He then claimed that Israel wants to turn the Palestinian-Israeli conflict into a regional religious war, declaring that Hamas accepts "the challenge" and will spare no efforts when it comes to defending its holy places. Warning that a religious war will "change the shape of Planet Earth" and scorch the earth, he said that when Hamas is forced to "defend" the Al-Aqsa Mosque, it will begin by firing a salvo of 1,111 rockets into Israel, in honor of former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, who died on November 11, 2004. He said that this salvo will be called the "Abu Ammar" salvo, in commemoration of Arafat.
Later in the speech, Sinwar praised the terrorists who carried out a previous-night attack in the West Bank settlement of Ariel that left an Israeli security guard dead, and he called on Palestinians to carry out lone wolf attacks and on Israeli Arabs to prepare their guns, cleavers, axes, and knives for the defense of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem. He said that if the Palestinians exert themselves, all West Bank settlements could be evacuated by the end of the year, just like the settlements of the Gaza Strip had been evacuated. In addition, he said that Hamas has been coordinating with other parts of the “Jerusalem axis" in order to "shatter" the naval blockade on Gaza and open its naval routes. He said: "We will [sail in and] out of Gaza, [and] we will do this whether they like it or not." Sinwar's speech was aired on Al-Jazeera Network (Qatar).
Yahya Sinwar: "This is a picture of the Zionist occupation soldiers entering the Al-Qibly Prayer Hall.
"This picture must never repeat itself. Whoever makes the decision to repeat this desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque will be making a decision to desecrate thousands of synagogues and Jewish temples all over the world. This picture means one thing: that the enemy wants to turn this war into a religious war.
"We prefer that the war does not turn into a religious war, but if the leaders of the occupation and their extremists want to turn it into a religious war, we accept the challenge.
"Harming the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem means a regional religious war. When it comes to our religion and our holy places, we will spare nothing and will not hesitate to make the decision.
"If this entity continues its policies — take it from me: it will change the shape of planet Earth, because a regional religious war will leave the Earth scorched. The world has a chance to act in order to prevent this great war, and avoid starting processes that only Allah knows how they will end. But we, as Palestinians and as Arabs and Muslims, who are part of the Jerusalem axis and coalition, we say clearly that we are completely ready to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
"A few days ago it was revealed that we have prepared a first salvo of 1,111 rockets for when we have to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Why 1,111? Because this number is made of two '11' figures. It commemorates the martyrdom of the eternal leader Abu Ammar [Yasser Arafat]. This salvo will also be named the 'Martyr Abu Ammar' salvo.
"Our people under occupation inside [Israel] in the Negev, the Triangle region, the Galilee, Haifa, Jaffa, Acre, and Lod — whoever has a gun should prepare it, and whoever does not have a gun should prepare his cleaver, axe, or knife. If they want there to be a religious war, they will be shattering all the red lines, and we should be on standby.
"From satellites, the entire region should be seen engulfed in raging fire, if they want a religious holy war, and if they do not stop their provocations of our feelings towards our Al-Aqsa Mosque.
"I would like to address the people of the United Arab List, and [their leader] Knesset Member Mansour Abbas. By providing a security net to this [Israeli] government, which decided to desecrate the Al-Aqsa Mosque, you committed a crime we cannot forgive.
"On behalf of myself, you, our people in the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian people, I salute the heroes who carried out the operation this morning, in Ariel, near Salfit. Our dear people, if you exert your efforts, all the settlements of the West Bank can be evacuated by the end of this year, just like the settlements of the Gaza Strip were evacuated.
"[I say to] our people in the West Bank: Do not wait for a decision from anyone. The lone [wolf] operations have proven to be extremely successful. Lone operations! Two or three people at he most, without letting anyone know, and do not write anything about it on the social media platforms, because the enemy is good at monitoring the social platforms.
"Today, we are capable of a great achievement in the West Bank. In Gaza, we say loud and clear, and I don't want to talk too much — soon we will begin coordinating with the Jerusalem axis, in order to start the naval navigation route to the Gaza Strip. We will completely shatter the siege, Allah willing. The discussions and consultations about this are well underway.
"We will [sail] our of Gaza, and return to it, and we will import and export goods, and whoever is not happy about this — we will do this whether they like it or not."