Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal has vowed to continue fighting Israel until the self-proclaimed Jewish state meets Palestinian conditions for a permanent ceasefire, especially the lifting of the longstanding blockade of the Gaza Strip.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency on Thursday, Meshaal accused Israel of perpetrating a "holocaust" in the embattled coastal strip.
"We are determined to realize the demands of the Palestinian people, especially lifting the siege and securing the release of [Palestinian] detainees," Meshaal said.
Israel resumed airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday following the collapse of indirect, Egypt-hosted negotiations aimed at striking a permanent ceasefire deal.
While Israel accused Palestinian resistance factions of violating a temporary truce with a rocket barrage on Tuesday, Hamas accused Tel Aviv of attempting to derail the Cairo talks.
Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has reeled under a crippling Israeli blockade that has taken an enormous toll on the coastal territory's economy and played havoc with residents' livelihoods.
Palestinian factions, for their part, condition a permanent ceasefire deal on Israel lifting its seven-year-long blockade on the beleaguered enclave.
"We will not give up until Palestinian demands – at the top of which is lifting the Gaza siege – are fulfilled," Meshaal asserted.
"Our message to the world is that it's high time to deal with the root cause of the problem by ending the [Israeli] occupation and settlement building and allowing the Palestinian people to live in peace on their own land," he added.
The Doha-based Hamas leader went on to accuse Israel of perpetrating a "holocaust" in the Gaza Strip.
"What Israel has done in the Gaza Strip over the last 45 days is a genuine holocaust," Meshaal told AA. "They are killing children, destroying residential areas, mosques, hospitals and UNRWA-run schools."
He said that more than 2000 Palestinians – a quarter of whom were children – had been killed in recent Israeli attacks.
"Israel is replicating what [Nazi leader Adolf] Hitler did years ago," Meshaal said.
Since hostilities began on July 7, at least 2069 Palestinians have been killed – the vast majority of them civilians – and more than 10,000 injured by relentless Israeli attacks across the Gaza Strip.
Thousands of homes have also been destroyed by Israeli attacks across the blockaded territory.
According to Israeli figures, at least 67 Israelis – 64 soldiers and three civilians – have been killed over the same period.
Meshaal went on to deny Israeli claims that a Hamas cell had been arrested in the West Bank for plotting a "coup" against the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA).
"This is a lie; a groundless claim," Meshaal told AA.
Earlier this week, Israel claimed to have arrested a 93-member Hamas "cell" that had been planning a "coup" against the PA and attacks on Israeli targets.
The Shin Bet, Israel's domestic security service, claimed the cell was led by Riad Nasser, 38, of the village of Deir Kadis near Ramallah.
According to Shin Bet, Nasser was recruited by Turkey-based Saleh Arori, a Palestinian who served 16 years in an Israeli prison.
Meshaal, for his part, hailed Turkish support for the Palestinian people.
"Turkey has consistently provided political and popular support [for the Palestinian cause] along with [humanitarian] aid during the war and during the humanitarian ceasefires," he said.
The Hamas leader also hailed Qatari support for the Palestinian resistance – a position, he noted, that had recently drawn criticism from Israel.
"It's a source of pride for Qatar to be attacked by the enemy," he said.
On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted that Hamas only enjoyed the support of Turkey, Qatar and Iran.
Unfazed by Netanyahu's assertions, Meshaal, addressing the people of Gaza, said: "Your cause is just; you're on the right path and will emerge victorious, God willing."
By Ahmed al-Masri