Israel unlikely to start fresh fight, Hamas co-founder says

Israel unlikely to start another armed campaign, Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Al-Zahar says
3 min read
25 August, 2021
The top Hamas figure said Tel Aviv knows the strength of Palestine's armed groups, particularly Hamas.
Mahmoud Al-Zahar spoke with Turkish state news outlet Anadolu Agency [Getty]

A Hamas co-founder has said that Gaza's rulers do not seek a conflict and that it is unlikely Israel's latest governing coalition will start another one with them.

Mahmoud Al-Zahar's remarks follow Israel's overnight bombardment of the Gaza Strip on Monday, the most serious escalation in Gaza since Israel's deadly bombing campaign in May.

"There is no new tension at the level of the people," the former Palestinian foreign minister, 76, was quoted by Turkey's Anadolu Agency as saying in an article published on Wednesday.

"Israel has intensified the blockade against the people of Gaza in the past few days in terms of food, medicine, water and electricity," he continued.

Zahar said a response to the stepped-up blockade has been given by Palestinians, who insisted on the end of the siege against the enclave.

During protests near the fence boxing Gaza in on Saturday, tens of Palestinians were injured, among them a seriously hurt boy of 13, after Israeli security shot at and used tear gas on those gathered.

Meanwhile, a member of Israel's border police was "critically" hurt after being shot from the Palestinian side, according to the Israeli army.

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These protests were held as a commemoration of what happened with the 1969 effort by a Christian Zionist to burn down Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.

Following the protests on Saturday, Tel Aviv launched airstrikes against Gaza on Saturday and Monday overnight, claiming these were against Hamas positions.

Israel's military said the bombing on Monday was retaliation for fire balloons being sent into Israel.

These caused field fires, the Jewish state's fire authority said.

While speaking with Anadolu, the Hamas co-founder also discussed the chances of further Israeli aggression.

He said he doesn't believe the authorities in Tel Aviv are going to begin another armed campaign.

"They have not even been able to erase the traces of a possible collapse".

The top Hamas figure said Tel Aviv knows the strength of Palestine's armed groups and Hamas in particular, saying the faction was unimpacted by what happened that month.

Discussions concerning prisoner swaps with the Jewish state began about two years ago, though they are yet to bear any fruits and their end date is, according to Al-Zahar.

Another topic of conversation was Hamas' status as an organisation.

The ex-FM argued that "Hamas is a resistance project against the occupying state".

Palestine shrinking; expanding Israel
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Zahar suggested the Islamist faction is not after "a random war", but one directed towards "liberation, as many countries were liberated from colonialism with resistance".He said "resistance and war" are separate ideas, but also that "[w]ar is one of the tools of resistance".

He added this explains how Hamas is a resistance movement rather than a war group.

Zahar highlighted the advanced military technology Tel Aviv possesses, though said particularly Hamas' reaction, but also those of other groups to May's deadly bombardment showed "how to inflict pain on the enemy".

This also provides a way to free Palestine at the point the circumstances are right, the high-level militant added.