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Hamas Defiant Amid International Calls to Disarm

The senior leader of Hamas says the Palestinian militant group will not disarm or change its policies toward Israel, following its landslide election victory.

Speaking from his base in Damascus, Syria, Khaled Mashaal said Saturday Hamas and the Palestinian people will be as effective in politics and reform as in fighting Israel. He also rejected international threats to cut off Palestinian aid, saying the Palestinian people will not be blackmailed.

Hamas, which routed the Fatah party in parliamentary elections Wednesday, has claimed numerous suicide attacks against Israel in recent years and has vowed to destroy the Jewish state.

Tensions remain high in the Palestinian territories Saturday with fresh calls for demonstrations by Fatah party activists. Witnesses say Fatah gunmen climbed the roof of the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah and fired shots in the air as supporters cheered below.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.