A Palestinian member of Hamas' armed wing takes part in a news conference.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A senior commander of Hamas’ military wing said on Monday that while his organization has no interest at the moment in fighting Israel, the Gaza-based Islamist group wants to double its arsenal of rockets and missiles in anticipation of the next round of fighting.
Marwan Issa told a gathering Gaza City that Hamas continues to manufacture rockets and forge alliances with whoever can assist its cause.
The remarks were reported by Israel Radio.
Directing his remarks at both Israel and Egypt, which recently issued an official decree outlawing the organization and its ideological forerunner, the Muslim Brotherhood, Issa said that any attempt to impose a blockade on Hamas and its military wing will ultimately fail.
Issa took up his position after Israel assassinated Ahmed Jabari during Operation Pillar of Defense. His responsibilities including coordinating the military wing’s position with the organization’s diplomatic bureau.
It is rare for a Hamas commander of Issa's rank and position to appear in public and give statements to the press.
While an Egyptian court ruled in January that Hamas’s armed wing was a terrorist organization, Saturday’s broader ruling against the entire group has potentially greater consequences for the already strained relationship between Cairo and Hamas.
Hamas denounced the ruling saying the move “turns Israel into a friend and the Palestinian people into an enemy [of Egypt].”
“The Egyptian court’s decision to list the Hamas movement as a terror organization is shocking and is dangerous, and it targets the Palestinian people and its factions of resistance,” Hamas said in a statement.
Leaders called on their supporters to take to the streets late Saturday to express outrage over the verdict.
Izzat al-Risheq, a senior Hamas official, said the ruling was an “insult to Egypt” and won’t affect Hamas or its supporters, he added.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, meanwhile, said Egypt was no longer an honest broker with regard to Palestinian issues.
He claimed the decision was politically motivated and said he did not rule out the possibility that it was taken in coordination between Egypt and Israel.
Several Palestinian groups, including Islamic Jihad, also denounced the decision, denying charges that Hamas or other Palestinian groups had been involved in terrorist attacks against Egypt.