Hamas not to disarm after Gaza pullout

Hamas will not surrender its weapons to the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip after Israel's pullout from the territory, one of the movement's top leaders has said.

    Al-Zahar contends that Hamas is a legitimate security tool

    "This army will continue to defend our homeland as long as one inch of Palestine remains occupied," Mahmoud al-Zahar told reporters on Friday, after attending a training session of Hamas's military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

    "It is criminal to claim that there is only one weapon," al-Zahar said in reference to declarations by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas insisting that the Palestinian Authority was the only legitimate security tool.

    During a keynote speech to the Palestinian parliament earlier this week, Abbas urged all armed groups to end their rocket attacks on Israeli targets, as part of a larger appeal for calm during the pullout.

    Abbas met al-Zahar and Hamas's two other top Gaza leaders on Tuesday in a bid to ensure the group's fighters would not seek to scupper the historic pullout of Israeli troops and settlers.

    Hamas, the group behind the majority of anti-Israeli attacks during the five-year uprising or intifada, says the rocket attacks were instrumental in persuading Israel to leave Gaza after a 38-year occupation.



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