Hamas says blocking of funds to Palestinian government is "real holocaust"

The cutting of funds to the Hamas-led Palestinian government amounted to a "real Holocaust," the leader of the militant group, Khaled Mashaal, said Wednesday.

Speaking to a rally of about 450 people convened by Palestinian students at Damascus University, Mashaal said Hamas would overcome the drive by Israel and Western states to stop the flow of funds to the Palestinian government.

The United States, European Union, Israel and other nations have stopped giving direct aid to the government because Hamas, which won power in January's elections, refuses to renounce violence and to recognize Israel.

"The Palestinian people are besieged and starving because they chose democracy. The United States and Israel started to conspire against the Hamas government with boycotts, siege and pressure on other countries to stop financial aid, but they failed," Mashaal said.

"So, they moved to prevent money transfers to the Palestinian territories ... This is a real holocaust. But Hamas will win this battle," he added.

Hamas officials have toured Arab capitals to seek financial support to compensate for the stopping of Western aid.

"Hamas will not bow to pressure to abandon the resistance and recognize Israel," Mashaal said, referring to its support for an armed campaign against the Jewish state.

"The giant (Hamas) has risen and they will never gain what they want," he added.

Syria, which is home to several exiled leaders of Hamas, launched a campaign Sunday to collect money for the group. Last month Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, visited Syria and held talks with its president and foreign minister.

Mashaal accused some Arab countries, whom he did not name, of conspiring against the Palestinians by succumbing to U.S. pressure not to transfer funds to the Hamas government. He said they were "hoping to gain privileges from the United States."

But he also praised the support of other Arab and Islamic states, mentioning Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Yemen, Sudan and Libya. He did not elaborate.

Palestinian officials said last week that recent donations by Muslim countries such as Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have not reached government coffers, reports AP.


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