ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 140

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Hamas bigwig rejects 2-state solution, says Oct. 7 ‘revived dream to free Palestine’

Qatar-based billionaire Khaled Mashaal remains indifferent to Gaza’s destruction, insists terror group will not relinquish its goals, says recognition of Israel is a red line

Gianluca Pacchiani is the Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Khaled Mashaal, member of Hamas's political bureau, speaks to Kuwaiti podcaster Ammar Taqi on January 16, 2024 (Video screenshot)
Khaled Mashaal, member of Hamas's political bureau, speaks to Kuwaiti podcaster Ammar Taqi on January 16, 2024 (Video screenshot)

Senior Hamas official Khaled Mashaal has dismissed the possibility of a two-state solution and said that his terror group’s devastating October 7 assault on Israel proved that liberating Palestine “from the river to the sea” is a realistic idea.

In an interview with Kuwaiti podcaster Ammar Taki last week, Mashaal, a former top leader of the terror group, said that there is “nearly a consensus” among Palestinians that they will not give up their rights to the land stretching “from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea” — that is, the West Bank, Gaza and all of Israel.

Mashaal noted that the slogan is also regularly chanted at rallies by “American students and in European capitals,” and said that the October 7 onslaught has “revived that dream.”

The Hamas bigwig categorically rejected the option of a political settlement with Israel and a two-state solution to the conflict, on the grounds that it would imply recognizing the legitimacy of the State of Israel, an “unacceptable” red line for the terror movement.

He further claimed that while Hamas has agreed to a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders in a bid to “establish common ground” in the context of reconciliation dialogue with other Palestinian factions over the years — most notably its historic rival Fatah — it will not relinquish its ambition to liberate the entirety of historic “Palestine,” including the territory of the State of Israel.

War broke out with Hamas’s October 7 onslaught into southern Israel, when terrorists overran military bases, communities and a music festival, killing some 1,200 people, most of them civilians, amid widespread scenes of horrific abuse. The terrorists also took 253 hostages.

Mashaal said in the interview that being in power in Gaza over the past 17 years had provided Hamas with “political and administrative cover” to build its terror infrastructure undisturbed by the PA or Israel, and manufacture weapons, dig tunnels, and train its members.

No remorse for sacrificing Gazan lives

The interviewer remarked that conditions before the October 7 attack were much better for Gazan civilians, who could lead normal lives, go to the market, and access services such as schools and hospitals.

“Everything has been wrecked, thousands have died, and Gazans cannot find food, water, or fuel. The whole infrastructure is destroyed,” the interviewer said.

Mashaal retorted that life in Gaza before October 7 was like in a prison, and that the Strip was “dying a slow death” due to the 17-year blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt following the terror group’s coup in 2007.

“There was no freedom in Gaza. There was an apparent stability, but life was not good. Palestinians are not interested in improving their lives under occupation,” he said.

Mashaal, who survived an Israeli assassination attempt in 1997, never resided in Gaza and only visited it briefly in 2012. He grew up in the West Bank and Kuwait, spent years as a Hamas official in Jordan and Syria, and has been a resident of Qatar for over a decade, leading a luxurious life far away from Gaza’s hardships. His net worth is estimated at $5 billion.

His fabulous wealth, like that of other Hamas leaders, was accumulated over the years through taxes levied on goods smuggled into Gaza from Sinai, and international donations, mainly from Qatar.

Addressing the high death toll in Gaza, Mashaal sloughed off responsibility for the loss of civilian lives. He said that “the resistance cannot prevent human losses,” echoing comments he had made in the days after October 7, when he said that Palestinians will need to sacrifice lives in order to liberate themselves.

He cited Algeria as an example, noting that it “sacrificed six million martyrs” in its struggle for liberation throughout the period of French colonization.

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