Hamas leader Khaled Mashal admitted for the first time in an interview with Yahoo News on Saturday that Hamas militants were behind the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the Hebron area in June, and claimed that the political leadership was "not aware of this action taken by this group of Hamas members in advance."
The interview, conducted at a Hamas media office in Doha, Qatar, came after violent days which saw ceasefire efforts to reach a long term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas collapse, amid renewed cross border rocket fire by Gaza militants.
Commenting on the current round of violence in Gaza and Israel, Mashal stated in the interview that the Israeli leaders were to blame. He also vowed to start giving Israeli civilians warning about impending rocket attacks.
"We do not target civilians, and we try most of the time to aim at military targets and Israeli bases," Meshaal told Yahoo news. "But we admit that we have a problem. We do not have sophisticated weapons. We do not have the weapons available to our enemy … so aiming is difficult. We do promise you, though, that we will try in the future and we will warn people … We have given warnings to Israeli civilians. We promise that if we get more precise weapons, we will only target military targets."
Upon being asked about Hamas' role in the abduction and killing of Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrah in Hebron, Mashal said: "We learned about these confessions from the Israeli investigation … Hamas political leadership was not aware of all these details. We learned about it later on …"
Justifying the action taken by the Hamas members, Mashal said in the interview: "Our view is that soldiers and settlers on the West Bank are aggressors, and they are illegally living in this occupied and stolen land. And the right to resist is the right of Palestinians."
On Wednesday, a senior Hamas religious figure admitted for the first time that Hamas had kidnapped and murdered the three Israeli teens who disappeared only to be found dead three weeks later after a massive IDF search mission.
In recording from a Muslim scholars conference, Sheikh Saleh a-Arouri is heard praising the "kidnapping to Hebron of the three settlers," which he described as “blessed heroic action” which was “carried out by the al-Qassam Brigades” – Hamas' military wing.
“There are those who say that it was your brothers in the al-Qassam Brigades, who carried it out for the sake of al-Qassam members who are in jails and who sit in a hunger strike,” al-Arouri said.