Hamas will not accept a puppet government in the Gaza Strip and will remain in the territory, said on Monday the leader of the Palestinian Islamist group in Lebanon.
Israel has said it intends to destroy Hamas in retaliation for the group’s October 7 attack which Israeli officials say killed at least 1,400 people.
“To those who think that Hamas will disappear, Hamas will remain entrenched in the conscience of our people, and no force on Earth can annihilate or marginalise it,” Osama Hamdan told a news conference.
The senior Hamas official said Israel ally the United States planned to replace its rule in Gaza, likening such a move to Nazi Germany’s puppet state in France during World War II.
“Our people will not allow the United States to impose its plans to create an administration that suits it and that suits the occupation (Israel), and our people will not accept a new Vichy government,” he said.
The Israeli army has bombarded the Gaza Strip and sent in ground troops in a military operation that has killed more than 10,000 people, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
On Tuesday, in Congress, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that “at some point” the Palestinian Authority (PA), led by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, should take control of the Gaza Strip.
International third parties could possibly play a role in the intervening period, Blinken said.
And Abbas, whose Fatah party is Hamas’s rival, said on Sunday that “the Gaza Strip is an integral part of the State of Palestine”.
The PA was driven out of Gaza by Hamas in 2007.
“We will fully assume our responsibilities within the framework of a comprehensive political solution that includes all of the West Bank, including east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip” — the areas the PA proposes for a Palestinian state — Abbas said after Blinken’s visit to Ramallah.
The PA only has authority over some sections of the occupied West Bank, with east Jerusalem annexed by Israel and Gaza under Hamas control.
Israel seized the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967.
The last Palestinian legislative elections took place in 2006 and were won by Hamas.
Despite its victory, the Islamist group was prevented from exercising real power and in 2007 launched its violent takeover of Gaza, defeating the PA’s security forces.