The only path in the Palestinian struggle against Israel is the path of armed resistance, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said during a visit to Iran on Monday, adding that the "gun is our only response to Zionist regime."
Haniyeh's comments came following recent reports of a change in Hamas' declared strategy in the fight against Israel, with some of the group's officials indicating that Hamas was headed toward a path of nonviolent resistance.
Speaking on the issue in an interview late last year, the Islamic group's leader, Khaled Meshal, said that Hamas would focus on popular protests to unify Palestinians.
While not completely renouncing the use of violence against Israel, Meshal told AP that popular protests have "the power of a tsunami," pointing to the recent waves of demonstrations across the Arab world.
"Now we have a common ground that we can work on … the popular resistance, which presents the power of people," he said.
In addition, a top Haniyeh advisor, Ahmed Youssef, told Egyptian media in December that Hamas had to "create popular resistance that draws the world to our struggle, and that doesn’t give the Israelis the justification to hit us hard."
"The non-violent approach is part of a strategy for our present situation to draw world sympathy to our cause,” the top aide said adding that the possible change in strategy was also a result of Hamas' “vulnerable situation against the Israelis, who have a huge propaganda machine.”
Speaking during an ongoing visit to Tehran on Monday, Haniyeh indicated, however, that Hamas saw armed resistance as the only way to fight Israel, saying the "[g]un is our only response to Zionist regime."
In time, we have come to understand that we can obtain our goals only through fighting and armed resistance and no compromise should be made with the enemy," Haniyeh was quoted as saying by the Iranian semi-official Fars news agency.
The Hamas PM also referred to the possible effects a recently signed reconciliation deal with Fatah could have on its policies, adding that the path "of resistance continues and if we make any compromise, it is for resistance and obtaining Palestinians' rights."
"[The] presence of Zionist regime inside Palestine is the root of all regional problems and this presence poses a threat not only to Palestine but also to the whole region," Haniyeh added.
On Sunday, Hamas' Gaza PM hailed Iranian assistance to the Palestinians cause, saying that the West "want from us to stop resistance and acknowledge Israel but I herewith announce that this will never happen.
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