Hamas Scorns Lieberman's Threat to Kill Leaders if Israeli Bodies Not Returned

'If Lieberman is a real man, let him approach Gaza,' says senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar in a statement to the press.

Pictures of Israel's leaders, with Lieberman in the center, being burned in Gaza on Friday.
Mohammed Abed/AFP

The expected appointment of Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman as Israel's defense minister has led to predictable scorn and bravado from Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip.

"If Lieberman is a real man, let him approach Gaza," said senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar in a statement to the press on Friday.

Al-Zahar was referring to a comment by Lieberman last month that, as defense minister, he would order the assassination of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh within 48 hours if Hamas does not return the bodies of IDF soldiers killed in the 2014 war.

"If Gaza wants to hunt him, it will hunt him," al-Zahar said, scorning Lieberman's threat to eliminate the Hamas leadership if the bodies of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin are not returned.

Another Hamas official, politburo member Fathi Hammad, told a rally in Gaza on Friday that the movement would not be cowed by Lieberman's threats to assassinate the movement’s political and military leaders.

“We do not call for war, but we will fight if it is imposed upon us,” Hammad said.

Thousands of Gazans burned pictures of high-ranking Israeli officials and demanded an end to the nine-year-old siege of the impoverished territory during the rally, which was held to mark Nakba Day, the 1948 creation of the State of Israel.