'Hamas denies it would stay out of Israel-Iran war'

Iranian report directly contradicts BBC quote by Zahar, saying the group wouldn't get involved in any regional conflict.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
March 8, 2012 09:05
1 minute read.
A Palestinian terrorist fires a rocket into Israel

Palestinian terrorist 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar denied reports in British media Wednesday that the Gaza-based group would stay out of any military conflict between Israel and Iran, the Iranian Fars news site reported.

"Retaliation with utmost power is the position of Hamas with regard to a Zionist (Israeli) war on Iran," Fars quoted Zahar as saying.

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The quote directly contradicts a BBC report the same day, which said Zahar told the news outlet: "If Israel attacks us we will respond. If they don't, we will not get involved in any other regional conflict."

A day earlier, another Hamas official also asserted that the group would stay out of a war between Israel and Iran. Hamas Political Bureau member Salah Bardawil was quoted by the UK's Guardian saying, "If there is a war between two powers, Hamas will not be part of such a war."

"Hamas is not part of military alliances in the region," he continued, "our strategy is to defend our rights."

Speaking with Fars Wednesday, Zahar added that the group would respond not only against Israel if it attacked Iran, but also, "whoever [was] helping them."

Hamas has traditionally launched attacks only against Israel, distinguishing it from other Islamist groups that target other Western and Arab powers. In response to the January, 2010 assassination of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, the group threatened to attack Israeli targets overseas.

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In both the Guardian and BBC reports, the Hamas officials discussed Iran's funding of the group, although there too, conflicting messages were sent. The Guardian quoted Bardawil as saying, "In the early days of the blockade (on Gaza), the money was very good, but it was reduced two years ago.”

The BBC quoted an unnamed Hamas official in Gaza as saying that while "Iran has been very generous with its money," Shi'ite Iran and the Sunni Islamist Hamas have little in common ideologically.

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