The chief of Hamas' political bureau Khaled Meshaal yesterday warned Israel of launching any new offensive on the Gaza Strip, Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency reported him as saying via video conference from Doha.
While speaking to a conference organised in Istanbul by the think-tank Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies, Meshaal said: "The [Israeli] enemy has been threatening to launch a new offensive [on Gaza] and we warn it against carrying out such offensive."
He stressed that if the Israeli occupation insisted on taking this choice, the Palestinians would not have any other choice "except to strive fiercely in order to protect themselves."
Recently, several Israeli ministers have threatened and warned that Israel may be considering launching a new war on Gaza after a round of Israeli airstrikes took place, claiming that they were executed in response to an alleged rocket attack launched from Gaza towards Israeli cities.
Meanwhile, Meshaal said: "Hamas has developed its resistance means and built a well-trained army [Hamas' Al-Qassam Brigades] that defeated the Israeli army during previous offensives."
Regarding the election of the new Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Al-Sinwar, who will be taking over from Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, Meshaal said: "Hamas is sticking to its principles and unchangeable vision and it will abide by reinforcing internal Shura and democracy."
He added: "The responsibility of the leadership is to maintain balance of the national programmes without paying high prices such as recognising the [Israeli] occupation," further adding that recognition of Israel as long been a request of the so-called international Quartet on the Middle East that includes the UN, US, EU and Russia.
"If we recognised Israel, all the international capitals would have been opened for us," he said, signifying that Hamas had made sacrifices to protect Palestinian national interests without compromising on fundamental principles, such as refusing to recognise the Israeli occupation as legitimate.
Meshaal also called on the other Palestinians factions to follow suit, and to rearrange their agendas related to the national programme of the Palestinian aspiration for self-determination.