Hamas: Jihad Is our Path

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- A week after rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation deal, senior Hamas officials say a unity government won't change anything.

Senior Hamas leaders Khaled Meshaal and Mahmoud al-Zahar said they remain committed to jihad ("holy" war) against Israel.

"Our path is resistance and the rifle and our choice is jihad," Meshaal said by audio-conferencing to the 1,000 attendees at the funeral of Adel and Imad Awadallah. "There is no past or future without jihad and resistance. Jihad is our path."

The Awadallah brothers were at the top of Israel's most wanted list in part for masterminding a suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv café and the kidnapping and murder of an IDF soldier in 2001 during the Second Intifada (armed uprising).

Israel handed over their remains more than 16 years after they were killed in a fire fight on the outskirts of Hebron.

The funeral was the largest gathering of Hamas followers in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) in years.

Meanwhile, al-Zahar said Hamas will not take orders from Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas nor will the deal change their strategy.

"The reconciliation deal will not change Hamas at all and will not bring the organization to recognize Israel's right to exist," the Times of Israel quoted Zahar from an interview in the Egyptian paper Alyoum Sabaa.

Israel also turned over other terrorists' remains, including those of the suicide bomber who killed 15 Israelis, including seven children, and wounded 130 others at the Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to say that Israel would reengage in talks with the Palestinians if the unity agreement fails, but if it comes to fruition, the government will look at alternatives to a negotiated agreement.

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