In a Nov. 1 interview with the Saudi-owned Al Hayat daily, Hamad,
regarded as the second most powerful man in the Hamas regime, said Israel
was not likely to attack the Gaza Strip in the near term. He said Israel was
fearful of an international backlash, Middle East Newsline reported.
"We are not afraid of war and expect that the war will come, but the
international situation is not suitable for war right now," Hamad said.
In January 2009, Israel invaded the Gaza Strip in a failed effort to
stop Hamas rocket fire. Hamad, in the first such admission, said at least
400 Hamas fighters were killed in the 23-day war, 150 of them classified as
police and security personnel.
"On the first day of the war, Israel targeted police stations and 250
people were martyred," Hamad said. "This was in addition to about 200 to 300
others from the [Hamas military wing] Izzedin Kassam Brigades."
Hamas was said to have been focusing on developing and training on new
missiles and rockets. In late October, Nigeria seized an Iranian mortar and
rocket shipment said to have been destined for the Gaza Strip.
"What concerns us is how to use weapons and develop security and
support," Hamad said.
Hamad has been deemed the second most powerful figure in the Hamas
regime. The interior minister was said to receive direct Iranian support in
his drive to expand the security forces.
The interior minister, said to cooperate with Hamas military chief Ahmed
Jabari, said Al Qaida has failed to establish a base in the Gaza Strip. He
said nearly 40 non-Hamas fighters have been arrested on charges of firing
missiles and rockets toward Israel.
"We do not want to deal with Al Qaida," Hamad said. "We are centrists.
We do not like extremists or zealots."