A top Hamas leader said Sunday his group could follow the example of the Shiite Muslim Hezbollah movement, which spearheaded successful efforts to force Israeli troops out of Lebanon, as the current wave of violence against Israel continues.
"We could take Hezbollah as our example for the Palestinian struggle. Those who are negotiating will continue to do so, and those who use the armed struggle will continue to do so, because the two strategies are complementary," said Ismail Abu Shanab, a member of the leadership of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas.
He was speaking to journalists after a meeting between a number of Palestinian parties -- including the radical Islamic groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad -- and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and some of his ministers.
"We discussed ways of developing this intifada (uprising) and ways to confront the challenges being thrown down by the Israelis," he told journalists.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has given Arafat until Monday evening to halt the violence, warning that otherwise the Israeli army will do so by any means necessary.
Abu Shanab said the Palestinians "will not bow to this kind of threat. We have the right to defend ourselves by legitimate means."
The current wave of violence has left over 90 people dead in the Palestinian territories, Jerusalem and Arab areas of northern Israel in the past 11 days.
Earlier Sunday another Hamas leader said the Palestinian Authority had freed from jail seven of its members, bringing to 21 the number of militants released in the past few days.
"The release of political prisoners is a step in the right direction, which reinforces our people's unity faced with the challenges with which we are confronted," Ismail Haniyeh told AFP.
Hamas is staunchly opposed to any dialogue with Israel and has claimed responsibility for numerous anti-Israeli attacks since Arafat signed the 1993 Oslo accords with the Jewish state.
The prisoner release is certain to be greeted by Israel with dismay -- GAZA CITY (AFP)
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