“We are the owner. This is known as an Islamic area, well known,” Mahmoud al-Zahar said in an exclusive interview with Sky News, adding there was no point even talking about a two-state solution.
A senior Hamas leader who helped found the Iran-backed terror group in Gaza came out of hiding, saying that while he thinks the recent ceasefire will hold, his organization remains totally committed to replacing Israel with a Palestinian state, Sky News reported Monday.
“I think nobody on both sides is looking for escalation,” Mahmoud al-Zahar told Sky News’ Mark Stone, who interviewed the the Hamas co-founder in Gaza after top leaders of the terrorist group emerged from hiding following their rocket attack on Jerusalem May 10 that sparked 11 days of fighting, ending with a ceasefire last week.
Al-Zahar said he expects the ceasefire to continue, but he acknowledged that Hamas purposely targets Israel’s heavily populated centers with its rockets.
“The new element here is the degree of the resistance movement, particularly in Gaza, to attack the Israeli targets in its very important points, including most of the overcrowded area in the (Israeli) civilian society. So for how long the Israeli (sic) will accept that, I think this is the main issue,” al-Zahar said.
Apparently surprised by al-Zahar’s honesty, Stone pointed out that Hamas was also firing the rockets from civilian areas in Gaza and told the Hamas leader, “that’s a war crime.”
Al-Zahar denied it, saying “no single rocket was sent from a civilian area,” but Stone retorted that “we’ve seen video of rockets being fired from within the built-up area of Gaza City at Israeli communities.”
Al-Zahar then tried to switch tracks, saying “this is not against Israeli communities but against Israeli occupation.” Hamas didn’t spend any money on civil defense because they were using the money on a “military ministry to defend themselves – we are here protecting ourselves against Israeli aggression,” he explained.
Asked directly, “does the State of Israel have the right to exist?”, al-Zahar replied bluntly with a “no.”
“We are the owner. This is known as an Islamic area, well known,” al-Zahar said, adding there was no point even talking about a two-state solution because the previous negotiations had failed and Hamas was not interested in “a failed business.”
When given the theoretical question as to whether Hamas would be willing to sit down and talk with U.S. President Joe Biden, Al-Zahar responded affirmatively.
“Why not? Mr. Biden – yes, he is supporting Israel – but I think we have a mission, as a Palestinian people, to speak to him frankly.”
Al-Zahar said that for him, peace means justice. “No peace without justice.”
At the end of the interview, Stone noted that “the prospects for long term peace (are) as elusive as ever.”
(World Israel News).