Israel should have killed exiled Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal during his first visit to Gaza, opposition MP and Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz has said.

"We should have taken advantage of the occasion to slice the head off the serpent. Meshaal deserves to die," Mofaz, also a former defence minister, said in a statement yesterday.

"I would recommend that he pack his bags as quickly as possible and get out of Gaza," he added. "If Israel continues to weaken Abu Mazen [Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas] and does not deal firmly with Hamas, we will soon see Meshaal in Judaea and Samaria," Mofaz said, referring to the West Bank.

In 1997, Meshaal escaped an assassination attempt carried out by the Israeli Mossad under orders from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his security cabinet.

During Hamas' 25<sup>th anniversary in Gaza, Meshaal called for armed struggle and jihad against opponents.

"Jihad and the armed resistance is the only true path to liberation. We don't kill Jews because they are Jews. We kill the Zionists because they are conquerors and we will continue to kill anyone who takes our land and our holy places," he said.

He pledged to "free the land of Palestine inch by inch".

Mashaal's remarks appeared to contradict his comments during a recent CNN interview, in which he suggested that the militant group accepted a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 border.

The paramilitary group claimed that 500,000 people attended the rally. However the claim cannot be independently verified.

In response to the Hamas celebrations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman Ofir Gendelman wrote on Twitter: "Hamas celebrates 25 years of murdering Israelis by rockets and suicide bombings as well as executing Fatah members and violating ... human rights."