'Israel has no right to exist,' top Hamas official asserts
Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahar tells Britain's Sky News that Gaza's rulers 'won' the latest round of hostilities against the Jewish state, which he says is "a settlement" as a whole. Zahar denies Hamas rockets target Israeli civilians, says they are fired 'only at the occupation.'
In a rare interview with Britain's from his Gaza home, Zahar, 76, insisted that Hamas, which took over the Strip in 2007 in a military coup, emerged from the 11-day conflict with Israel with the upper hand, explaining that Hamas' achieved "a strategic and symbolic victory."
"The new element [in the most recent hostilities] is the degree of the resistance movement, particularly in Gaza, to attack the Israeli targets at very important points, including most of the overcrowded area in the civilian society. So for how long the Israeli will accept that, I think this is the main issue."
He denied that Hamas was firing rockets from within populated areas of Gaza, effectively using the Palestinian population as human shields – action defined as a war crime – despite multiple videos showing Hamas operatives doing just that.
"No. No single rockets were sent from a civilian area," he asserted. "Most of the rockets were from the border."
As for the fact that Hamas and the Islamic Jihad were targeting Israeli communities, Zahar, one of Hamas' co-founders, said the rocket fire was "not [aimed] against Israeli communities, but against Israeli occupation. This is against Israeli aggression."
Al-Zahar, a former Hamas foreign minister, noted that the Islamist group believes that the two-state process was no longer relevant and blamed Israel for its failure.
"Practically, that was proved," he said. "It is not my assessment. Go and ask [PA President] Mahmoud Abbas 'are you now saying a two-state solution is viable or not?'... He will say no... The Israelis are not going to accept a two-state solution.