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New Hamas Gaza chief vows “liberation of all of Palestine”

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The new Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip yesterday vowed to wipe Israel off the map, in one of his first public comments since assuming the position.

Yahya Sinwar, a senior leader of Hamas’s military wing who was recently chosen to be Hamas’s top leader in Gaza, is considered a proponent of a more aggressive stance towards Israel.

Speaking yesterday at an event to mark the anniversary of the death of Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, who was killed in an Israeli strike in Gaza in 2004, he said: “Hamas will continue in the path of Yassin for the liberation of all of Palestine — we will not surrender even a morsel.”

His statement was at odds with reports earlier this month that Hamas will soon announce a new charter, which will accept in principle a Palestinian state within pre-1967 borders, signifying a shift away from imposing a state in place of Israel’s entirety.

The London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported two weeks ago that a document had been drawn up in Doha by Hamas officials including overall leader Khaled Mashaal, senior political leader Ismail Haniyeh and senior Hamas member Moussa Abu Marzouk. Apparently, the amended charter would, for the first time, endorse the idea of a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders, although it would not apparently extend to recognising Israel.

Hamas’s current charter, formulated in the 1980s, clearly defines a religious struggle against all Jews. Media reports suggested that Hamas hopes a new approach will help foster better ties with other Palestinian factions, Egypt and the international community, even though Sinwar’s comments suggest a different outlook.

Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip since violently deposing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction in 2007. Sinwar was chosen to succeed Ismail Haniyeh, who is slated to become Hamas’s overall leader during the coming months, taking over from Mashaal.