Mashaal: Israel using Gaza as 'guinea pig' for Iran

Mashaal says Palestinians want to save their territory from Israeli occupation following meetings with Erdogan, Gul in Turkey.

Mashaal and Turkey's Gul in Turkey_370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Mashaal and Turkey's Gul in Turkey_370
(photo credit: Reuters)
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal accused Israel of using the Gaza Strip as a "guinea pig" for testing its missiles capabilities amid simmering tensions with Iran Turkey's English-language news portal Today's Zaman reported Sunday.
Mashaal, who spoke to reporters Sunday during his weekend trip to Turkey, said Hamas would continue to "fight against Israel in political, diplomatic and media fields."
Mashaal said that Palestinian rockets were fired at Israel only after the IDF attacked Palestinian targets in the Gaza Strip, and said "Hamas' missile attacks from Gaza on Israel were self-defense," according to the report.
While Israel believes Hamas was probably not firing rockets in the last spate of violence - in which over 200 rockets were launched from Gaza at southern communities in Israel - Jerusalem holds the Islamist group responsible for attacks emanating from terrorist groups like Iran-backed Islamic Jihad or the Popular Resistance Committees.
Speaking with the semi-official Anatolia news agency, Mashaal said that Palestinians want to save their territory from Israeli occupation and create a Palestinian state on this land, according to the report.
Mashaal - who met with senior Turkish officials including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gül - said that the Gaza-ruling Hamas values its ties with Turkey, deeming them "very important."
Turkey has been an outspoken supporter of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and was one of the few outspoken nations denouncing Israel during the escalation of violence last week that erupted after Israel assassinated a terrorist leader it said was orchestrating a large terrorist attack against Israelis.
During the escalation, the Turkish prime minister said IDF operations in the Gaza Strip during the latest round of violence were part of a wider campaign of "genocide" against the Palestinian people, which Israel has "systematically" carried out throughout the 20th century. At least 27 Palestinian were killed during the nearly-week-long spasm of violent hostilities.
Mashaal also commented on Palestinian reconciliation, saying peace between Palestinians is necessary in order to keep fighting Israel. He dismissed a rivalry between Hamas and Fatah as conspiracy, despite the two groups' inability to implement a deal signed in Qatar in February that would pave the way for a unity Palestinian government.