Senior Hamas official Mahmud Zahar said on Monday that the Palestinian Islamist movement will never give up its armed struggled against Israel.
The statement comes as Gaza Strip officials openly attacked the movement’s leader-in-exile Khaled Meshaal, who has decided not to run again this summer for the leadership of Hamas, for prioritising “peaceful resistance.”
“We are fighting for our dignity and rights. Jihad is our path, our life, our pride and we will not renounce it no matter the sacrifices,” said Zahar, quoted on the website of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing.
Hamas will “never give up its armed struggle against the Zionist enemy,” he said during a speech in Zeitun, a neighbourhood in east Gaza, in honour of the “martyrs” of Israel’s December 2008-January 2009 Cast Lead operation against the enclave.
Damascus-based Meshaal, who survived a 1997 Israeli assassination bid, has confirmed he wants to quit after eight years in the post, the Islamist movement that has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007 said on Saturday.
“Political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal has notified Hamas’s consultative council that he does not wish to be a candidate for the movement’s future leadership,” a statement said.
The political bureau is Hamas’s principal decision-making body and its members are elected by secret ballot by the much larger consultative council.
The next elections are expected to be held in July or August, Hamas sources have said.
Among the leading candidates to replace Meshaal are his number two, Mussa Abu Marzuq, who also lives in exile, the leader of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, and Mahmud Zahar.