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Assassination fears not influencing Hamas

GAZA, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Several Hamas officials have said they are not concerned with the possibility their organization's top leaders in Gaza could be assassinated by Israel.

Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri is one of the Hamas officials who are downplaying the impact such assassinations would have upon the militant Palestinian organization, The Jerusalem Post said Thursday.

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"In the past, Israel killed (Hamas founder and spiritual leader) Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and (Yassin's successor) Abdel Aziz Rantisi and that didn't have any effect on Hamas," al-Masri said.

Another Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, added that those Hamas leaders who likely would be targeted are equally unconcerned with such threats.

"The Hamas leaders are on the front line in the battle against the Israeli occupation," Barhoum told the Post. "As such, they are not afraid of joining the bandwagon of martyrs."

An unidentified aide to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh confirmed that stance, saying Hamas is not reliant on a single individual.

"Hamas is a popular movement that doesn't center on this or that leader," the aide said. "Almost every member of Hamas is fit to become a leader."

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