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Khaled Meshaal: 'Not a war of choice'

Hamas' political leader discusses the latest outbreak of fighting in the Gaza Strip and the issues behind the conflict.

Last updated: 17 Aug 2014 18:35
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After a month of bombardment by Israeli tanks and war planes which inflicted massive damage on infrastructure and housing, as well as killing nearly 2,000 people, mostly civilians, the people of Gaza gather up what remains of their lives. 

The Palestinian position is unified .... We want Israel to end the Gaza siege, to open the border crossings, to end that big prison for two million people in the Gaza strip ... We want the two million people of Gaza to live in freedom like the rest of the world.

Khaled Meshaal

The 10,000 Palestinians wounded are tended to in bomb-damaged hospitals that lack the equipment and medicines that are needed.

It has been four weeks of high alert in Israel too; rockets from Gaza have numbered 3,000 and 64 Israeli soldiers, which is more than in the last two conflicts combined. Three civilians in Israel were killed by rocket fire.

An uneasy calm is in place as Palestinian and Israeli leaders shift their battle to Cairo where words are being traded instead of bombs. 

Hamas and the other groups from Gaza have joined with their West Bank brothers of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) to present a united front. The Egyptians' task is to forge a deal that can put an end to the attacks.

Although he is not on location, neither in Gaza nor in Cairo, Khaled Meshaal, Hamas' political leader, is a central protagonist in this dreadful drama.

He says: "This is a battle that we have not chosen to fight, it was forced upon us. It was the Israeli occupation that started the aggression. It brought the events that happened two months ago in the West Bank to Gaza for its own domestic calculations. It wanted to take revenge on Hamas and the Palestinian people in Gaza. We have defended ourselves. 

"This is not the first time there is a ceasefire .... We do not wish to play the game of keeping the calm with the aim of wasting time. We want serious negotiations that lead to an end of the aggression on Gaza and granting the Palestinian demands. We want our people in Gaza to feel that the siege has been actually lifted after eight years of intolerable suffering."

So what is next for Gaza? And will the Palestinians reach a sustainable peace agreement with Israel?

Khaled Meshaal, Hamas' political leader, talks to Al Jazeera about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, key issues surroundig occupation, and the recent agreement on a ceasefire. 

Talk to Al Jazeera can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0430; Sunday: 0830 and 1930; Monday: 1430.    

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