US media is reporting that Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal is the 2nd Hamas leader to confirm that Hamas members were behind the West Bank killing of three Israeli teenagers. According to an interview with Yahoo News, Meshaal claimed that the Hamas political leadership were unaware of the killings but justified them on the grounds that the three youths were “settlers”:
August 22, 2014 DOHA, Qatar ‘This is an opportunity for me to say we are against the killing of any civilians, any journalists,’ Meshaal said in the interview. But he then turned the accusation against Israel. ‘The question is who is killing the civilians,’ he said, asserting that more than 15 journalists have been killed during the Israeli assault on Gaza.
Meshaal acknowledged for the first time that Hamas members — but not the group’s political leadership — were behind the slaying of three Israeli settlers on the West Bank in June. But he defended the murders as a legitimate action against Israeli ‘illegal’ occupation.”
“We were not aware of this action taken by this group of Hamas members in advance,” he said. “But we understand people are frustrated under the occupation and the oppression, and they take all kinds of action.”
When asked directly whether Hamas members carried out the abduction of the Israeli teens, Meshaal 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 …
“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.”
Read the rest here.
Mr. Meshaal’s statement is curious on a number of levels given that Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood are usually loathe to acknowledge any truth to Israeli governmental allegations against them and suggests to us Israeli evidence about the Hamas role in the killings was strong enough to force Hamas leaders to try and get ahead of the revelations about the killings.
Last week, the GMBDW was the first to report that that Salah al-Arouri , a Hamas military leader residing in Turkey, had admitted that the Hamas military wing was responsible for the kidnapping, an event which sparked the recent round of the Gaza conflict. The admission was made at an Istanbul meeting of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), headed by Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi, and attended by various Brotherhood luminaries as well the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister. An Israeli newspaper reported last June that an unidentified Israeli security official identified al-Arouri as the mastermind behind the kidnappings. False claims that the Israeli police had exculpated Hamas in connection with the crime were for a time a staple on websites linked to a or sympathetic to Hamas and/or the Muslim Brotherhood.
Israeli media reports also say that al-Arouri was also the mastermind behind what has been described as a Hamas coup attempt in the West Bank that was intended to end the rule of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and spark a third intifada.
For our report on the IUMS meeting, go here.