Hamas Says It's Rearming but Doesn't Seek Clash With Israel Now

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Palestinian members of the Qassam brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, take part in a military parade marking the 27th anniversary of Hamas' founding, in Gaza City, December 14, 2014.Credit: Reuters

Hamas does not seek a clash with Israel at this time but is striving to double its strength for future conflicts, the leader of Hamas’ military wing said late Sunday.

Marwan Issa made a rare appearance Sunday at a conference at Gaza's Islamic College entitled “Palestine, reasons for the conflict and conditions for victory.”

According to Issa, Hamas’ military wing continues to manufacture rockets regardless of Israel’s opinion, and the group is trying to obtain more weapons and ammunition. Hamas will also continue military training for teenagers so that the idea of “resistance” trickles down throughout Palestinian society, Issa said.

But the main focus in Gaza these days is the relationship with Cairo; Hamas and other factions fear that the Egyptian army might attack. Senior Hamas official Salah Bardawil said Sunday evening the organization would stand up to anyone the way it stands up to Israel.

Speaking at a Hamas-sponsored rally in southern Gaza , Bardawil warned the Egyptians not to clash with Hamas, “which does not bend to those who attack it.” Gaza is not Libya and anyone who threatens it will lose soldiers, Bardawil said.

Last week, an Egyptian court ruled Hamas a terrorist organization, one month after it did the same for the military wing.

Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt has also declared a terrorist group and has repressed since the army ousted President Mohammed Morsi a year and a half ago.

Meanwhile, in Cairo, contacts are continuing between Islamic Jihad and Egyptian intelligence on one side and Hamas on the other. The goal is to reopen the Rafah crossing into Egypt and calm the atmosphere between Egypt and Hamas.

Also, senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has said the organization is ready for an election whenever all Palestinian parties agree to hold one. Haniyeh was speaking after a visit to Gaza by the chairman of the Palestinian election committee, who met with Haniyeh and the heads of other parties.

The committee is updating the electoral rolls for a Palestinian Authority election some time in the future.

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