Hamas Gaza leader to Israeli press - 'I don't want war' | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

23 February, Saturday


Hamas Gaza leader to Israeli press - 'I don't want war'

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Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s leader in Gaza, has told Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth that he does not want another war with Israel. 
 
“A new war is in no one's interest; it’s certainly not in our interest. Who really wants to confront a nuclear superpower with four slingshots?” Sinwar said in an interview with the newspaper.
 
“War doesn't achieve anything,” he added.
 
Sinwar went on to say he had decided to give an interview -- to an Israeli newspaper no less -- because he now sees “a true opportunity for change”. 
 
The interview was conducted by a Jewish journalist holding dual Israeli-Italian nationality. 
 
Journalist Francesca Borri spent five days in the Gaza Strip, where she conducted Sinwar's first interview ever as Hamas leader in Gaza with an Israeli media outlet. 
 
Borri wrote after conducting the interview: “When I tell people I met Sinwar, the first question I'm asked is, ‘Where did you meet? Inside a tunnel? In a secret bunker deep underground?’ No, I reply. Most of our meetings were in his office in Gaza City.” 
 
The full text of the interview will be published -- in Yedioth Ahronoth and Italian daily La Repubblica -- on Friday. 
 
Asked whether he wanted to continue fighting Israel, Sinwar replied: “I'm not saying I won't fight anymore. I'm saying I don't want any more wars.” 
 
“What I want is an end to the siege [of the Gaza Strip]. My first commitment is to act in the interest of my people; to protect them and defend their right to freedom and independence,” he said. 
 
According to Sinwar, Israel -- which has imposed the siege for the last 12 years -- is to blame for the recent escalations along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone. 
 
“The responsibility lies with those who sealed the borders -- not those who have tried to reopen them,” he said.
 
“My responsibility is to cooperate with anyone who can help us put an end to the siege,” he added. “In the current situation, an explosion is inevitable.” 
 
In regards to recent ceasefire talks between Hamas and Israel, Sinwar said: “The agreement doesn't exist yet, but Hamas -- and almost all the other Palestinian factions -- are willing to sign and honor it.”
 
“But at the moment, there's only the [Israeli] occupation,” he added. “It's important to make it clear: If we're attacked we will defend ourselves, as always. And we will have another war.” 
 
Sinwar also stressed the need for an extensive prisoner exchange in any future agreement with Israel, describing this as “absolutely vital”.
 
“This isn't a political question; it's a moral question. I see it as an obligation. I'll do whatever it takes to secure the release of anyone who is still in prison [i.e. Palestinians in Israeli custody],” he said. 
 
Hamas, meanwhile, has yet to officially comment on the assertions made in the interview.

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