In an interview with Vanity Fair magazine, Hamas political leader Khalid Meshaal has completed the picture of Hamas responsibility for the June kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, an event which sparked the last round of the Gaza conflict. In the interview, Meshaal acknowledges that Hamas field operatives have free reign to plan and execute operations with the blessing of the leadership:
“You’ve referred to these men as ‘martyrs,’ as heroes. You said in the past few weeks that you were unaware of the plan to kidnap and kill these kids. But it sounds as though you’re saying it was perfectly appropriate to kidnap and kill three teenagers. Is that correct?
The answer is clear. When this operation took place last June, I then said in remarks to the media that we had no information. I could neither confirm nor deny. Later on, and as the Israeli investigations have shown, it turned out that a Hamas field group in the West Bank had killed those three settlers. So, this was indeed an operation executed by a Hamas group. We now have specific information. [The] question now is: Was this operation legitimate or not? This was a legitimate operation. Why? I told you. It is the right of the lawful owners of the land in the West Bank, whether they are from Hamas, or from some other group, to engage in resistance against the occupiers, whether they are the Israeli military or settlers. It’s as simple as that.
Would you have blessed the operation in advance?
We work according to a certain methodology. It’s important to understand this methodology. In the leadership of Hamas, we never give orders to execute this operation—or stop that one. We present general policies: that there is an occupation and part of our strategy is to resist this occupation. Somebody might say, ‘But don’t you have any control over those working in the field?’ Of course we do. When we agree on a ceasefire, for example, this becomes a decision from the leadership of the movement, and those working on the ground must abide by it. But the leadership does not interfere with the execution, or with ordering this operation to be carried out, and that one not to.”
Read the entire interview here.
In August, the GMBDW reported that Meshaal had confirmed that Hamas members were behind the June killing of the teenagers. The GMBDW was the first to report that Salah Al-Aruri, a Hamas military leader residing in Turkey, had admitted that the Hamas military wing was responsible for the kidnapping. 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.
For a profile of Saleh al-Arouri, go here.
For our report on the IUMS meeting, go here.