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Hamas leader rejects Israel's call to disarm group

Sept. 5, 2014 2:46 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 6, 2014 2:28 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas will not accept any Israeli, regional or international calls to disarm the group, leader Ismail Haniyeh said Friday.

Speaking at the al-Susi mosque, the Hamas leader said that the group's arms are "sacred" and the same calls for disarmament should also be applied to Israel.

"As long as the occupation exists there will be resistance and fighting and Palestinian factions have the right to have what they can have," Haniyeh said.

The top priorities now for Hamas are ending Israel's blockade, strengthening national unity and providing support to Palestinians affected by the recent Israeli offensive, he said.

Palestinian factions have all agreed to President Mahmoud Abbas' proposal to join the ICC, he added, stressing that Israel should not get away with the killing of "children, women and the elderly."

"We have the right to have the necessary means to defend ourselves," he added. "We do not call for war, and we do not want war, but if the enemy wants it we will fight back."

The al-Susi mosque was shelled during the Israeli offensive on Gaza.

Israel and Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip ended over seven weeks of fighting last week with a long-term ceasefire agreement in which Israel agreed to ease its siege on the coastal enclave.

Further negotiations regarding unresolved issues such as an airport and seaport in Gaza and the demilitarization of factions were to take place in Egypt a month later.
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