Hamas 'will not go to war for Iran'
Gaza , May 11, 2012
The Islamist movement Hamas will not let itself be dragged into a war against Israel if it attacks the nuclear facilities of Hamas ally Iran, Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh said.
"Hamas is a Palestinian movement that acts within the Palestinian arena and it carries out its political and field actions in a way that suits the interests of the Palestinian people," he said at his headquarters in the enclave.
"Iran did not ask anything from us and we think Iran is not in need of us," the prime minister of the Hamas government told Reuters in an interview. Israel has repeatedly said it rules out no option in its determination to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.
"The Israeli threats are declared and they are not in need of analysis. But I think such an issue would have grave consequences on the entire region," the 48-year-old Hamas leader said. "I cannot predict the scenarios but a battle of this kind would have repercussions for the region."
Israel says it would have to reckon with potential attacks from the south by Iranian-supported Hamas and from the north by the Tehran-backed Hezbollah army in Lebanon, if it came to war with Iran. Israel says both groups possess stockpiles of rockets supplied by Iran and accuses both of practising terrorism.
Haniyeh said the grand coalition formed this week by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which gives him an unassailable majority in parliament, had been established for internal reasons but could also have "external motives".
"On the external level there is no doubt that it was an attempt to absorb the big changes that have taken place in the region - the so-called Arab Spring - and maybe a preparation for several issues," he said. Asked if Iran might be one of the issues, he said: "Maybe."
Haniyeh said the current hunger strike by hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli prisons was a test of Israel's commitment to universal humanitarian principles which must be recognised. He warned that the death of any prisoner would have "negative repercussions", but did not elaborate.
"I do not wish that any prisoner in Israeli jails is martyred and so I demand that they implement international law in respect to the prisoners, who should be regarded as prisoners of war," he said. - Reuters