JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hamas political leader Khaled Mashal vowed that Hamas would aim only at Israeli military targets if it can get more sophisticated weapons.
Mashal in an hourlong interview Friday with Yahoo News in Doha, Qatar, also said his group is nothing like ISIS and admitted that Hamas members killed three kidnapped Israeli teens in June.
He said Hamas rejects the killing of civilians and journalists, unlike ISIS, an Islamist group that distributed a video of the beheading of an American journalist in recent days.
Asking the interviewer, “The question is, who is killing the civilians?” Mashal asserted that Israel has killed 15 journalists during attacks on Gaza.
“We do not target civilians, and we try most of the time to aim at military targets and Israeli bases,” he said, adding that Hamas’ “problem” is that it does not have the sophisticated military equipment that Israel has, “so aiming is difficult.”
“We promise that if we get more precise weapons, we will only target military targets,” Mashal said.
The interview occurred after a 4-year-old Israeli boy living near the Gaza border was killed in a mortar attack outside his home but was not mentioned in the four-minute segment presented on Yahoo.
Mashal called the comparison between Hamas and ISIS, which has been made repeatedly by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a “lie” designed to “trick” the American public.
“We are not a religious, violent group,” Mashal said. “We are fighting against aggression in our land.”
Mashal acknowledged during the interview that Hamas members kidnapped and murdered the three Israeli teens, though he said the Hamas organization did not know about the kidnapping in advance. He called the murders a legitimate form of protest against Israel.
“We understand people are frustrated under the occupation and the oppression, and they take all kinds of action,” he said.
The interview took place after two days of talks in the Qatari capital between Mashal and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.