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Sunday, September 26, 2004

Hamas threatens to target Israelis abroad


GAZA, Sept 26 (Reuters) - The Palestinian militant group Hamas threatened on Sunday to target Israelis abroad after blaming Israel for the killing of a Hamas official in Syria.


'We have let hundreds of thousands of Zionists travel and move in capitals of the world in order not to be the party which transfers the struggle. But the Zionist enemy has done so and should bear the consequences of its actions,' said the statement by Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.

The statement issued in Gaza and obtained by Reuters mourned the death in a car bomb of Izz el-Deen al-Sheikh Khalil, believed to be in charge of Hamas's military wing outside the Palestinian territories.

Hamas blamed Israel for the assassination.

'The Zionist enemy has opened a new door for the struggle by transferring the battle outside Palestine, in spite of the fact that al-Qassam Brigades has always been keen to keep its rifles directed against the entity in the land they occupy,' said the statement, which had been broadcast earlier by the Arabic television station al-Jazeera.

A Hamas representative in Lebanon denied that the group had taken a decision to attack Israeli targets abroad. He and a spokesman in Damascus said Hamas would launch attacks only inside Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Hamas, which has launched scores of suicide attacks against Israel and Palestinian territories, has always maintained that its policy was not to attack Israeli targets worldwide.

In Jerusalem, a senior Israeli government source said that Hamas' pamphlets and Web sites made clear it was engaged in a 'total war against Jews' and the latest threat reported by al-Jazeera, whether genuine or not, would not be new.