JERUSALEM, Israel -- Gaza-based Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar rejected the notion that his group would stay out of a war between Israel and Iran, contradicting earlier remarks to BBC News.
In an interview posted Wednesday by Iran's FARS News Agency, al-Zahar said Hamas would unequivocally retaliate against Israel and "whoever (is) helping them."
"Retaliation with utmost power is the position of Hamas with regard to a Zionist (Israeli) war on Iran," he told FARS.
On Wednesday, al-Zahar told a BBC reporter in Gaza that Hamas is "not part of any political axis."
"If Israel attacks us, we will respond. If they don't, we will not get involved in any other regional conflict," he said, according to the report.
Another unnamed Hamas official said not to "exaggerate our power."
"We are still suffering from the occupation, the siege and two wars in recent years. What could we realistically do anyway? If we were to attack Israel, the response would be much stronger," he said.
This official said Hamas and Iran have little in common from an ideological point of view. He also said he didn't particularly like the Iranians.
"Iran has been very generous with its money, but ideologically we have little in common…I don't like the Iranians and the way they try to use their influence in the Arab world," he said.
On Tuesday, the London-based Guardian quoted Gaza-based Hamas spokesman Salah Bardawil saying Hamas would not get involved in a war between Israel and Iran.
"If there is a war between the two powers, Hamas will not be part of such a war," Bardawil said.
"Hamas is not part of military alliances in the region. Our strategy is to defend our rights," he said.