“A strong Egypt is a gain for its people and the people of Palestine,” said Khaled Meshaal, head of the political bureau of Hamas.
Meshaal addressed reporters at the Press Syndicate in downtown Cairo on Monday, praising Egypt’s role in the most recent conflict between Gaza and Israel.
“[Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu wants to use this Gaza operation for success in the elections,” alleged the Hamas senior leader. “And he wanted to test Egypt and its people.”
Meshaal denied reports that Palestinian refugees had fled to Sinai. “What the Egyptian media published about the scenario of the resettlement of Gazans in Sinai is absolutely not true,” he said.
He welcomed closer relations between Egypt and Palestine. “We want the Rafah to be a natural crossing between the two states, and we do not want the closure of the border between Gaza and Egypt.”
He also addressed the possibility of a ground operation, which Israel has presented as a possibility, saying that such an offensive would be a “mistake” and said that Gaza’s weapons had caught the Israeli military by surprise.
The political bureau head said that if Israel was interested in a ceasefire, it would have to initiate it, but Hamas would welcome other countries such as Egypt facilitating a halt to the violence, saying that the current conflict was a drive to restore Palestinian and Arab rights.
“We do not want an escalation and are not reckless like the irresponsible Netanyahu,” he said, “but we’re politically minded. If [Israel] wants a ceasefire they have to start it, because they are the ones who started the war.
“The problem did not start with rockets from Gaza, but the cowardly Israeli assassination of Ahmed Jabari,” he added. Jabari, the head of Hamas’ military wing, was killed in a targeted assassination on Wednesday.
Meshaal called for unity among all Palestinians, in reference to the political rift between Fatah and Hamas.
He said his organisation “did not understand” the position taken by the United States when talking about the defence of Israel, in reference to President Barack Obama’s assertion, “Israel has the right to defend itself.”