Hamas will not be drawn into any conflict between Israel and Iran, a senior official of the Palestinian Islamist movement which rules Gaza said on Wednesday.
"Iran does not need Hamas to respond to Israel in the event of an attack, because it has enormous military capabilities at its disposal, which allow it to act without us," Ahmed Yussef, a counsellor to the Hamas foreign ministry, told AFP.
"That's why Hamas will not be drawn into any war between Iran and Israel," he said, while emphasising that the group would retaliate if Israel attacked Gaza.
Hamas "does not belong to any military or regional political axis, and our activity is in Palestine," Yussef added.
Signup to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
"Iran has not asked anything of us. We will determine our policy and our actions on the basis of Palestinian interests," said the Hamas official, while describing his party's relations with Iran as "strategic and friendly."
Israeli commentators have voiced growing concern about the possibility of rocket or missile attacks by militant groups in Gaza or by the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon, if Israel attacks Iran.
Hamas's political bureau is the group's principal decision-making body, but its powerful armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, has some autonomy in applying those decisions on the ground.
Yussef said that Iranian financial support for Hamas had not been affected by the movement's criticism of the bloody crackdown on anti-government protests by Tehran's key regional ally Damascus.
"Iran realises that Hamas cannot abandon the Syrian people. The Syrian regime has crossed red lines and Hamas cannot remain silent on that."