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Hamas wants backers to send arms, fighters, money

Written by: Staff

DOHA, May 10 (Reuters) Palestinian militant group Hamas urged supporters around the world today to send it arms, fighters and money to back its fight against arch-foe Israel.

''We ask all the people in surrounding Arab countries, the Muslim world and everyone who wants to support us to send weapons, money and men,'' Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal said in a speech at a pro-Palestinian event in Qatar.

''You should not shy away from of this. This is resistance, not terrorism,'' said Meshaal whose group -- sworn to the destruction of Israel -- leads the Palestinian government.

Prominent Muslim cleric Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi told the event Muslims should boycott banks refusing to transfer funds to the Palestinians after Washington said it could penalise banks that help provide money to the Hamas-led government.

''We call on Muslims to boycott banks that do not transfer money to the Palestinians. The boycott would force them to cooperate,'' he told participants, referring to banks in Jordan and Egypt which he did not identify.

Hamas, which has carried out about 60 suicide bombings against Israel since a Palestinian uprising erupted in 2000, won elections in January and formed its first government in March.

Hamas, which has largely abided by a ceasefire for more than a year, has been under increasing Western and Israeli financial pressure to recognise the Jewish state, abandon armed struggle and accept interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deals.


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