Hamas leaders and Islamic scholars met in Pakistan’s capital for a convention last week and argued that Israel’s war in Gaza would end if Pakistan, a country armed with nuclear weapons, threatened Israel.
Their comments were widely reported in Pakistani newspapers and picked up by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which aims to bridge “the language gap [that] exists between the West and the Middle East.”
The conference, titled “The sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the responsibility of the Islamic Ummah” was organized by “Pakistan Ummah Unity Assembly, a network of Islamic religious organizations, per MEMRI.
One of the featured speakers, Ismail Haniyeh, was quoted as calling for nuclear-armed Pakistan to play a more robust role in the Israel-Hamas conflict.
“Pakistan is a strong country. If Pakistan threatens Israel, then the war can stop,” Haniyeh said. “We have lots of expectations from Pakistan. Pakistan can force Israel to retreat.”
He deemed Jews the “biggest enemy of Muslims in the world.”
“In this war, our 20,000 children, women, and men have been martyred,” he said. “At this time we are destroying Israel’s most modern weapons. We have hope we will succeed.”
The conference was also attended by Hamas leader Naji Zuhair, who had been in Pakistan in recent weeks. Conference attendees recognized Hamas fighters as a “political force” waging a “defensive jihad.”
The conference came just over two months after Hamas terrorists stormed into southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people who were mostly civilians and capturing scores of hostages.
Israel’s offensive has killed more than 18,700 Palestinians per the Hamas-run Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians. Israel has disputed these figures.
Hamas released over 100 of more than 240 hostages captured on Oct. 7 in exchange for the release of scores of Palestinian prisoners during a brief cease-fire in November. Nearly all freed on both sides were women and minors.
Hamas has said no more hostages will be released until the war ends and that in exchange it will demand the release of large numbers of Palestinian prisoners, including high-profile militants.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.