Ismail Haniyeh, Khaled Mashaal's top deputy and the former head of the Hamas regime in Gaza, was rushed to hospital on Wednesday shortly after emerging from hiding during the seven-week-long Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip, according to Channel 2.

The news of Haniyeh’s hospitalization was first reported by Channel 2’s Arab affairs analyst Ehud Yaari. There is no word yet regarding the Hamas leader’s condition or the reason that he needed medical attention.

Arab media outlets quoted the son of Hamas’ deputy political bureau chief, Abed a-Salam Haniyeh, as denying rumors that his father was hospitalized. According to reports, Haniyeh said his father was in Shifa Hospital in Gaza City visiting Palestinians who were wounded during the Israeli bombardment.

Ismail Haniyeh, who on Wednesday made his first public appearance since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, declared victory over Israel.

He told a pro-Hamas rally outside the offices of the Palestinian Legislative Council that the war showed that the “resistance has become much more developed than the past.”

This time the movement was prepared for the battle with Israel, he said.

“We managed to crush the myth of the enemy army that can’t be defeated,” Haniyeh said. “The Palestinian people did not celebrate Id al-Fitr [on July 28], but today they are celebrating the holiday of victory.”

Abu Obaida, spokesman for Hamas’s armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, held a press conference together with representatives of other Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip where he too declared victory.

The “resistance won because it was able to strike at the heart” of Israel, he said. “We told the enemy: You are not safe on any piece of our land.”

Hamas and the other armed groups managed to drive tens of thousands of Israelis out of their homes during the war, Abu Obaida boasted.

“Gaza has exposed the Zionist entity and its security and military leadership,” he continued.

“We have exposed them as murderers who target innocent civilians after failing to face our fighters.”

Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.

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