Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip said on Wednesday that the terror group will not cease its conflict with Israel until “the liberation of all of Palestine.”
Speaking at an event marking the anniversary of the death of Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike in 2004 in Gaza City, Yahya Sinwar said Hamas would not allow the State of Israel to exist on even a “morsel” of land.
“Hamas will continue in the path of Yassin for the liberation of all of Palestine — we will not surrender even a morsel” of the land, Hebrew media reports quoted Sinwar as saying.
Despite drafting a new manifesto set to be released by the end of March as part of an attempt to moderate the terror group’s image, Hamas has not changed its founding commitment to Israel’s elimination.
Although the new political platform raises the possibility of a temporary Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem — lands Israel captured in the 1967 war — it will not formally replace Hamas’s 1988 founding covenant, which calls for the destruction of Israel and for “confronting the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews through jihad” and argued that “Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Muslim people.”
הנכנס והיוצא: יחיא סינוואר, מתעב הופעות ציבוריות (רואים על פניו), נאלץ ליישר קו במסגרת תפקידו הטרי. הפעם – בארוע לציון יום השנה לחיסול יאסין pic.twitter.com/UHVb05a00F
— Elior Levy • אליאור לוי (@eliorlevy) March 22, 2017
In referring to a Palestinian state, Hamas did not spell out whether it considers this an acceptable solution to the conflict with Israel or a steppingstone to its longstanding goal of an Islamic state in place of Israel, as it makes no mention of recognizing Israel’s existence.
The document will be released after Hamas completes internal elections, with results for leader of its ruling political bureau expected at the end of the month. Separately, different sectors, such as the West Bank and Gaza, have voted for their own leadership councils.
In Gaza, the base of Hamas’s political power, Sinwar, a former prisoner in Israel and a strong advocate of armed struggle against Israel, was chosen for the top spot.
He is considered hawkish even within Hamas, and opposes any compromise in its policies regarding the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Even from prison, he was one of the main opponents of the Gilad Shalit exchange deal that saw him freed because he regarded the terms, one Israeli soldier for 1,027 prisoners, as a surrender to Israel’s conditions.
Since his release, he has managed to amass a great deal of political power in Hamas, and was already widely considered the strongest man in Gaza even though he was not the head of Hamas’s military or political wing.
Agencies contributed to this report.