Hamas leader Khaled Mashal urged US President Barack Obama over the weekend to call on Israel to "lift the siege" on Gaza and stop the "real holocaust" Israel is committing against the Palestinians.
"You as the leader of the most powerful state in the world, I ask you to call (on) Israel to stop its aggression on Gaza — and to lift the siege and open the cross borders and to rebuild Gaza," Mashal said in English in the second part of an interview with Yahoo News conducted Friday in the Hamas media office in Qatar.
The Hamas political leader told Yahoo that Obama had a moral responsibility to pressure Israel to halt fire in Gaza, and said Hamas on its part was "ready for a ceasefire."
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"This is an opportunity for me to send a message to the American people, to President Obama, and to the US Congress: America has to act in a moral way," he said.
While calling for the help of the United States, which branded him as a "specially designated global terrorist" in 2003, Mashal also responded to statements from former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who earlier this month accused Hamas of initiating the conflict and "embedding rockets and command and control facilities in civilian areas."
"Who is planting 600,000 settlers on the West Bank? They are stealing the land — and they kill Palestinian civilians," Mashal said in an accusatory manner, adding that Israel had also "sabotaged" current Secretary of State John Kerry's peace efforts.
"I find it very strange for Mrs. Hillary Clinton to say something like this, when she knows the truth," he said, noting Clinton needed to be "just and fair."
He also compared Israel's action in Gaza to those of Hitler, and saying that the actions of the IDF in Gaza were the "real holocaust."
"What is the difference between what Netanyahu, (Defense Minister Moshe) Yaalon, and (IDF chief of staff Benny) Gantz are doing — killing thousands of civilians, children, women, entire neighborhoods, targeting mosques, destroying hospitals and UNRWA schools — what's the difference between that and what the Nazis did in the 1930s and 40s? And what Hitler did. This is the real holocaust," he said.
Mashal, who lives in Doha, far from the battle raging in Gaza, had claimed in the first part of the Yahoo interview that Hamas' political leadership had not been told "in advance" about the plan to kidnap the three Israeli teens, who were murdered soon after being taken and whose abduction sparked the current round of fighting.
In the second part of the interview, Mashal again claimed innocence, rejecting charges that he had direct responsibility for Hamas suicide bombings during the First and Second Intifadas in the 1990s and early 2000s respectively.
"I'm a political leader, and I do not interfere in military affairs. What the Palestinian people do in resisting occupation are details that I do not get myself involved in," he insisted.
Mashal also brushed off responsibility for Hamas' rocket attacks on Israel. When asked how many rockets Hamas has, he claimed he does not know.
"I'm the head of the political bureau ... I direct the policies and the positions. But not the details when it comes to military issues," he said, Yahoo noted, with a smile.
On the 1988 Palestinian charter, which announces that "There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by jihad," Mashal said that, "People do not judge people by what they have on charters, but what they act on."
While he does not reject the Palestinian charter, Mashal claimed Hamas now adheres to its agreement with the Palestinian Authority "which seeks a just solution based on the 1967 borders."
Mashal, who himself has survived a 1997 Israeli assassination attempt, claimed Hamas military wing leader Mohammed Deif was "fine and safe" after the IDF last week bombed a building in which he was believed to have been located. Deif's wife and two children, who were in the building at the time, died in the strike.