Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on Sunday praised Gaza’s attacks on Tel Aviv last month and, speaking colloquially, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home would be destroyed the next time hostilities between Israel and Hamas flared up.
Mashaal was visiting the Gaza Strip for the first time in over 40 years and spoke to students at the Islamic University of Gaza.
Mashaal said Gazan fighters had destroyed Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s home — as much a colloquial reference to the ostensible ruination of Barak’s career as a reference to rockets that were fired at Tel Aviv, where Barak lives, during Israel’s eight-day mini-war with Gaza last month. No rockets hit the city, either falling harmlessly or being intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system.
“You destroyed Barak’s home,” Mashaal said. “May you destroy Netanyahu’s home, too.”
During the operation, Hamas propaganda disseminated a number of false reports exaggerating its military prowess, including claims it hit areas north of Tel Aviv and downed Israeli planes.
Mashaal said Israel’s leadership was shocked by Gaza’s ability to fire rockets on Tel Aviv.
“Netanyahu, Barak and [foreign minister Avigdor] Liberman could not have dreamed that Gaza would shell Tel Aviv,” he said. “You, the young people, surprised the enemy. The bombing of Tel Aviv was unexpected.”
The missile fire on Tel Aviv and on a chunk of central Israel was hailed by Hamas as a major victory in the conflict.
On Saturday, Mashaal celebrated Hamas’s 25th anniversary by popping out of a model of an M75 rocket, the longest-range missile in Hamas’s arsenal, before giving a speech to an adoring Gazan crowd.
Mashaal said he hoped that Netanyahu would follow Barak into retirement from politics.
According to the Ma’an news agency, Mashaal also spoke of the need for unity among the different Palestinian factions.
“Hamas can’t live without Fatah and other factions; neither can Fatah live without Hamas,” said the exiled leader, who managed the terror group from his home in the Gulf.
On Saturday, Mashaal gave a vitriolic public speech in which he promised to continue fighting until all of Palestine is liberated.