Zee Media Bureau
Cairo: Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal has admitted that the members of his organisation killed three Israeli teenagers who were abducted in June this year, as per reports on Saturday.
However, he rejected any comparison with ISIS terrorists who conducted violent attacks across Syria and Iraq.
In an interview with Yahoo News, Meshal also expressed sorrow over the beheading of American journalist James Foley by an ISIS executioner.
“We are against the attacks on innocent civilians or any scribe. However, 15 journalists were killed during the Israel-Gaza crisis,” said the leader.
The leader also asserted that the top leadership was not aware of any plan being made for attacking the Israeli teenagers. However, he also defended the militant group and said that the action was a result of an outrage against Israel`s usurping of Palestinian area.
The violent attacks between Israel and Hamas started on June 30 after the bodies of three Israeli teenagers were found in the West Bank.
Meanwhile, Hamas executed 18 alleged collaborators in Gaza City on Friday.
In retaliation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed harsh retribution for the killing of a four-year-old boy by Palestinian mortar fire.
The escalating bloodshed has seen another 79 Palestinians die in Gaza and wounded nine Israeli civilians, one of them critically, since hostilities resumed on Tuesday after the collapse of truce talks and nine days of calm.
European governments are now seeking UN action to find a durable ceasefire after Egyptian diplomacy failed to end the worst fighting in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since a 2000-2005 second intifada.
Israel has vowed no let-up until it can guarantee the safety of its civilians, and Hamas insists that Israel end an eight-year blockade on the tiny, overpopulated Palestinian coastal enclave it controls.
At least 2,095 Palestinians have been killed since July 8, of whom the United Nations has identified 70 percent as civilians, and 68 people have died on the Israeli side, all but four of them soldiers.
In broad daylight outside Gaza`s largest mosque, a day after Israel killed three of the movement`s senior commanders, Hamas gunmen grabbed six men as worshippers came out onto the street after Friday prayers, witnesses told AFP.
They were pushed to the ground. One masked man shouted: "This is the final moment of the Zionist enemy collaborators," before the gunmen sprayed them with bullets.
Earlier, another witness saw 11 people shot dead in a square near the remains of Gaza police headquarters, bombed by Israeli warplanes.
An 18th person was shot in front of bystanders in a separate incident.
The Hamas-linked website Majd said the 11 were killed after they "gave information to the Zionist enemy".International human rights organisations condemned the executions.
In Israel, the barrage of Palestinian rockets and mortar fire claimed its fourth civilian victim of the six-week war -- four-year-old Daniel Tragerman, who was killed at home after shrapnel pierced the wall in kibbutz Nahal Oz.
He was the first Israeli child killed by Palestinian fire since July 8.
The army said Gaza militants had fired the deadly mortar shell from a site "adjacent to the Jafar Ali Ibn Taleb school in the Zeitoun neighbourhood of Gaza City".
An army statement early Saturday said the facility served as a "shelter maintained by Hamas authority", correcting an earlier statement in which it had stated it was an UNRWA-operated facility.
Also early Saturday, medical officials said three Palestinians were killed by an Israeli air strike on central Gaza.
Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said the three were killed in a house in the Nusseirat refugee camp, with five others wounded in the same attack.
On Friday Netanyahu vowed "Hamas will pay a heavy price for this attack", his spokesman Ofir Gendelman said on his Twitter account.
The army and Shin Bet internal security would "intensify ops against Hamas", he added.
Israel said it struck more than 30 targets in Gaza since midnight as 101 rockets and mortar rounds hit Israel during the same period.
Another 12 rockets were shot down, an army spokeswoman said.
Israeli air strikes on Friday killed five Palestinians in Nusseirat and the central town of Deir al-Balah, three of them men aged 22, 24 and 45.
Forty others were wounded when a powerful air strike levelled a house in Gaza City late Friday, emergency services said.
Witnesses said it was the home of a family that included members of Hamas, but that the family had evacuated the building beforehand.The Palestinian president and Hamas`s exiled leader on Friday urged the United Nations to draw up a "timetable" for the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories to end, Qatar state media said.
President Mahmud Abbas and Hamas supremo Khaled Meshaal issued the appeal during talks in Doha, as fighting continues in Gaza, Qatar`s state news agency QNA said.
The two Palestinian leaders have been holding talks in Doha since Thursday, but little else has filtered out of their meetings which are hosted by the emir of Qatar, a key backer of Hamas.
On Thursday, Britain, France and Germany put forward key points of a new UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate and sustainable ceasefire, and the lifting of Israel`s blockade.
Diplomats said the text was aimed at advancing efforts to reach agreement within the 15-member council after a draft resolution from Jordan met with resistance, notably from the United States.
Washington has wielded its veto powers at the Security Council repeatedly in the past on behalf of Israel, although the now 46-day war has strained relations between the allies.
The new resolution proposes a mechanism to monitor the ceasefire and supervise the movement of goods into Gaza to allay Israeli security concerns.
It also calls for Abbas`s Western-backed Palestinian Authority to take back control of Gaza, seven years after his loyalists were driven out of the territory by Hamas.
(With AFP inputs)