Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Friday said his Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip would not heed any calls to disarm, Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported.
Israel, along with the United State and the European Union, have called for the "demilitarization" of terrorists groups in Gaza as a term for establishing lasting peace.
During his remarks at Friday prayers at the site of Gaza's al-Susi mosque, Haniyeh said Hamas's arms were "sacred" and demanded that the calls for disarmament also apply to Israel.
Ma'an cited Haniyeh as saying that Hamas has "the right to have the necessary means to defend ourselves."
He charged that as long as Israel exists, so will fighting and the "resistance" against "the occupation."
"We do not call for war, and we do not want war, but if the enemy wants it we will fight back," he was quoted as saying.
Hamas has rejected disarmament calls, which stood as one of Israel's main sticking points during Egyptian-moderated indirect negotiations with the Palestinians to reach a end to the more than seven weeks of hostilities in Gaza that began in July.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has said that if Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas fully reconciles his Fatah faction with Hamas, he must assumed of control the Gaza Strip and separate the terrorist organization from its weapons.
"If [Abbas] doesn't disarm Hamas, the reconciliation would be a misrepresentation intended to deceive the world," he said.
During a meeting with foreign military attaches stationed in Israel, he added that "while we all yearn for peace, we do not deceive ourselves."
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