Yasin emerged in the occupied Gaza Strip on Wednesday after keeping a low profile following an Israeli assassination attempt on his life earlier this month.

He said the question of a truce, which was proposed by Palestinian President Yasir Arafat last week, had not been discussed between Hamas and Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Ahmad Quraya.

Earlier, Israeli soldiers killed a 15-year-old Palestinian boy during an invasion of the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza.

Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, spearheading the Intifada or uprising against Israel’s occupation, called off a seven-week ceasefire on 22 August after an Israeli helicopter attack assassinated top Hamas leader Ismail Abu Shanab.

Yasin also ruled out joining a government under Quraya, saying it was not Hamas’ goal to join an administration but liberate Palestinian land and people.

Asked about Quraya’s vow to end the “mess” of weapons in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, Yasin said Hamas would not surrender its arms to the Palestinian Authority.

“Our people carry their weapons to defend themselves and nobody can take away these arms before the liberation of our holy sites,” he said.

Words for Washington

Cleric rules out truce as long as
Israel continues its aggression

The cleric also condemned US President George Bush’s speech to the United Nations as a declaration of war on Islam.

“Today Bush declares war on Islam under the pretext of terrorism and ideologies that feed terrorism. Bush views Islam as terrorism,” said Yasin.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Bush said the Palestinian cause was being “betrayed by leaders who cling to power by feeding old hatreds”.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) protested an Israeli raid on Wednesday into one of its hospitals in the northern West Bank town of Qalqilya.

According to a statement, Israeli troops stormed the UNRWA hospital to arrest a wanted Palestinian activist they claimed was hiding there. Foreign activists confirmed the incident.

UNRWA condemned the invasion as a “serious breach” of UN immunity and of international humanitarian law.