Hamas leader distances group from Islamic State ‘terrorists’

In an interview with Yahoo News, the political leader of Hamas today vigorously rejected any comparison to Islamic State terrorists and pledged that the Palestinian militant group will start giving warnings to Israelis about impending rocket attacks in order to avoid the killing of innocent civilians. As much of the world expressed revulsion over the beheading of American journalist James Foley by an IS executioner, Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal took pains to distance his organization from the Islamist militant group that has conducted a murderous rampage across a large swath of Syria and Iraq.

This is an opportunity for me to say we are against the killing of any civilians, any journalists.

Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal

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. In the wide-ranging interview, Meshaal repeatedly blamed Israeli leaders for the current round of violence. He deflected questions about the hundreds of Hamas rockets aimed at Israel, making a new pledge to warn civilians in advance of the attacks.