Hamas official denies group will stay on sidelines during Iran fighting

Senior Hamas official denies telling the BBC the Islamist group would not extend military assistance to Tehran in the event of Israeli strike

Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar (Wissam Nassar/Flash90)
Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar (Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

Hamas will issue “a crushing response” to any Israeli attack on Iran, senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said Wednesday, refuting an earlier BBC story claiming the Islamist group would stay out of any Israeli-Iranian fighting.

“Retaliation with utmost power is the position of Hamas with regard to a Zionist war on Iran,” Zahar told Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency.

Earlier on Wednesday the BBC reported Zahar saying that Hamas does not have the power to “get involved in any other regional conflict.”

Zahar’s earlier comments had been echoed by Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, who told the Associated Press: “Hamas weapons and the weapons of the Palestinian resistance, in general, are humble weapons that aim to defend and not to attack, and they are to defend the Palestinian people. That does not give us the ability to be part of any regional war.”

Zahar could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

There have been increasing signs of rifts in Hamas, including between Gaza strongmen like Zahar and leaders in exile who advocate a more pragmatic line. It’s not clear who will prevail, including on ties with Iran.

Israel believes Iran is trying to produce nuclear weapons, while Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Israel has been hinting at a military strike.

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