(photo credit: REUTERS)
DOHA - Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said on Thursday the latest war between Israel and Hamas would not be the last round of conflict between the two, but a "milestone to reaching our objective."
"This is not the end. This is just a milestone to reaching our objective, we know that Israel is strong and is aided by the international community. We will not restrict our dreams or make compromises to our demands," Mashaal said at a news conference in the Qatari capital, Doha.
Mashaal said that Israel's siege on Gaza had failed. "This war was forced upon us," he said at the conference which centered on the results of the seven-week operation in Gaza, but added that it was an "important station on the way to liberation."
The war, he added, has brought Palestinians closer to "Jerusalem, the Aqsa Mosque and our holy sites."
Mashaal said that one of the most prominent aspects of the war was the "failure of the theory of deterrence" and moving the battle into the heart of Israel. "Their internal front has become insecure at a time when their intelligence capability has been weakened," he said, referring to Israel.
The political leader said "reconstructing Gaza is the duty of the national consensus government and of the free world."
He vowed that the Palestinians did not give up on their demands to end the siege and build an airport and sea port and "did not abandon our demands to release our prisoners."
He called on Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza. "We call on Egypt to open the Rafah border as a brotherly action."
"The resistance triumphed in Gaza," he said, vowing to start rebuilding the coastal territory, compensate the many residents who lost their properties, and see that the wounded get proper treatment.
"Every Palestinian in Gaza and every Palestinian in the world are partners in this victory," he stated.
The Palestinian "resistance" groups in Gaza have succeeded in creating the equation of a balance of fear, pain and mutual insecurity" with Israel.
As for the group's military commander Mohammed Deif – Mashaal described his condition as "fine," after what Hamas said was an Israeli assassination attempt earlier this month.Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.