Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal insisted on Saturday, March 1, that Palestinian rocket attacks are a result of not the cause of ongoing Israeli aggressions against the Palestinian people.
"They [Israelis] do not want to end the occupation, stop attacks or lift the siege. What do people expect the Palestinians to do," Meshaal told a press conference in the Syrian capital Damascus.
He accused Israel and its allies of twisting facts and spreading lies that Hamas is a stumbling bloc to reach a ceasefire.
The Hamas leader said that his group committed itself to past truces in 2003, 2005 and 2006, but Israel never kept its part in the bargain.
"We tell all Arab and European officials that whosoever can secure an Israeli commitment to halt aggressions in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, Hamas stands ready to deal with this seriously and stop (firing rocket)," Meshaal stressed.
"I say it publicly, not under the table. Put us to the test and throw the ball in our court to see what we will do. Let an Arab leader or even an international leader stop Israeli aggressions and ask us to stop the rocket attacks."
The chief of the Israeli left-wing Meretz party, Yossi Beilin, said Hamas has repeatedly signaled readiness for a truce over the last few weeks only to be given the cold shoulder by Israel.
Meshaal stressed that if the international community fails to resolve the Palestinian cause diplomatically then "we have no other option but to resist."
"It is our destiny to fight this unfair battle, which has been imposed on us. We never chose to fight it."
At least 60 Palestinians, including many women and children, were killed Saturday in an ongoing Israeli onslaught against the sealed off Gaza Strip.
The fatalities take to at least 98 the number of Palestinians, third of them children, killed in four days of Israeli raids and air strikes.
Meshaal said the ongoing Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip are the "real Holocaust in the broad sense of the word."
"Israel is killing children, women, and the elderly, and flattening homes atop the heads of its innocent residents."
TV footage showed toddlers as young as five months and children lying in pools of blood.
Deputy Israeli Defense Minister Matan Vilnai threatened on Friday, February 29, to turn the Gaza Strip into a "bigger holocaust" for the Palestinians.
"The Palestinians have been the subject of a holocaust since Israel came into being in 1948," Meshaal said.
"And I tell some European and Western countries which are turning a blind eye to the Israeli crimes: ‘Shame on you.’"
The Hamas leader also slammed the Palestinian Authority for rushing to blame Hamas for Israeli killings in the fenced-off Strip.
"The rockets are a reaction. Israeli aggression came first."
Riad Al-Malki, the information minister in the West Bank government, earlier Saturday said the rocket attacks give Israel an excuse to bomb out Gaza.
"I tell those who blame the Israeli aggression on rocket firing, and others who claim that Al-Qaeda exists in Gaza that they are accomplice in the Israeli crimes."
In an interview to the Al-Hayat daily last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas claimed Hamas allowed Al-Qaeda into the Strip and joined an alliance with it.
"The murderer needs no excuse to kill; let’s not fool ourselves," Meshaal said.
"Israel is targeting all Palestinians and not just Hamas."