Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on Thursday accused Israel of perpetrating a Holocaust in Gaza and vowed to keep up fighting against Israel until the siege of Gaza is lifted.
Speaking in an interview with Turkey's Anadolu Agency, Mashaal said, "What Israel has done in the Gaza Strip over the last 45 days is a genuine holocaust...They are killing children, destroying residential areas, mosques, hospitals and UNRWA-run schools."
He said that Israel was "replicating what Hitler did years ago."
There have been numerous reports
that Israel sees Mashaal, who resides in Qatar, as responsible for not previously agreeing to a cease-fire, against the opinion of Hamas's leadership within the Gaza Strip.
Mashaal gave no indication in the interview on Thursday that he intended to compromise on demands that Israel has said are nonstarters. "We will not give up until Palestinian demands – at the top of which is lifting the Gaza siege – are fulfilled."
"Our message to the world is that it's high time to deal with the root cause of the problem by ending the occupation and settlement building and allowing the Palestinian people to live in peace on their own land," he added.
Mashaal denied claims that Hamas had plotted to overthrow the Palestinian Authority
in the West Bank, as was claimed by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) earlier this week.
The Hamas leader praised the support given to the organization by both Turkey and Qatar, and said of Israeli criticism of Qatar's sponsoring of Hamas
, "It's a source of pride for Qatar to be attacked by the enemy."