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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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July 18th, 2014
06:14 PM ET

Why not agree to a cease-fire and end civilian casualties? We have demands, says Hamas official

The following is a transcript of a phone interview between CNN's Jake Tapper, and Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad. For our interview with an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson, click here.

Jake Tapper, anchor CNN's "The Lead": To the other side of this conflict, Ghazi Hamad is a senior Hamas official. He's joining us on the phone from Gaza. You're looking at live pictures from Gaza right now. Mr. Hamad, I want to ask you, Hamas has said your fighters are better prepared to take on Israel this time. How are they better prepared?

Ghazi Hamad, senior Hamas official: Look, I can say now we are just defending ourselves. We are fighting against occupation. We tried to protect ourselves. We are not terrorist people that we want just launching missiles from Gaza to Israel. And you have to know that he Israel started this aggression against this when they started to arrest people in the West Bank, and to punish people in the West Bank. And you know that Gaza is under siege for seven years. They closed the crossings and the terminals, they prevent entrance of the building materials, raw materials. The situation is very terrible. So I can -

Tapper: I understand that the situation is terrible in Gaza, sir. Let's talk specifically about ending the violence that's going on right now. Hamas's position against a cease-fire unless these larger issues are met, that's a death sentence for your people, sir.

Hamad: Well, this is not true. We are not against a cease-fire, but we should not. When Israel now has killed more than 300 people, most of them, 99% of them are civilians, children, women, elders. And now (unintelligible) in order to continue its aggression against us. It's not fair -

Tapper: I understand. Why not just agree to a cease-fire?

Hamad: We have, look, we have some demands. We have some demands. I think the international community should listen to us. They should press decision on the Gaza, they should open the customs, they should
leave Palestinian people alone in order to live.

Tapper: Sir, even if I agreed with everything you're stating, wouldn't the violence, this immediate violence going on right now, the four children killed today, wouldn't it stop if Hamas agreed to a cease-fire, then Israel would be forced to cease-fire also, and then you could start to address these issues? Maybe I'm sounding naive to you, But you could - go ahead.

Hamad: This is just a justification for Israel to kill children? Why they are killing innocent children?

Tapper: I am not justifying it, sir. I am saying why not agree to a cease-fire so that all this needless death stops.

Hamad: Look, we are not against cease-fire. We want now to restore the calm and (unintelligible) to the region. We want to live. We want to be, to be also in a good situation. But I think that we have to ask
the other side is to stop to strike people, to strike homes. Destroyed now, 500 homes in Gaza on the heads of the children and women. So I think they should stop first of all, because we have no aircraft.
We have no tanks like Israel. We have no big (unintelligible) like Israel. We should not make balance between, between the Hamas and small factions in Gaza, and Israel with its huge amount of massive destructive weapons. We -

Tappper: That's why, that's why I don't understand, sir. You are so out - your military cannot even begin to compete. That's why I don't understand why you don't agree to a cease-fire. But I wish you peace, I hope there's peace that comes to both your side and the Israeli side. And I hope to have you on the show sometime. Ghazi Hamad thank you so much.

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