Hamas’s chief in the Gaza Strip, Yayha Sinwar, on Thursday dismissed British, American and Israeli calls for the terror organisation to lay down its arms and recognise Israel, reportedly stating that the group is instead debating “when to wipe out Israel”.
Last week in the House of Commons, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson underlined that Hamas must “renounce terror”, recognise Israel’s right to exist, cease its “violent antisemitic propaganda”, and abide by the Quartet Principles.
Hamas leader Sinwar made the remarks during a closed roundtable discussion with Gazan youth about the ongoing reconciliation negotiations with rival Palestinian faction Fatah, to which some media outlets were invited to attend.
According to the Hamas-linked news agency Shehab, Sinwar said: “Over is the time Hamas spent discussing recognizing Israel. Now Hamas will discuss when we will wipe out Israel”.
A Hamas spokesperson released a few official quotes from the meeting. The remark about discussing “when we will wipe out Israel” was not included in the transcript, which featured the Hamas leader again rejecting disarmament and Israel recognition.
The official statement quotes Sinwar as saying: “No one in the universe can disarm us. On the contrary, we will continue to have the power to protect our citizens… No one has the ability to extract from us recognition of the occupation”.
Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, and is designated as a terrorist organisation by the US, the EU, Canada, and Israel.
The organisation’s founding charter calls for the destruction of Israel, and the organisation has repeatedly opposed peace efforts.