Hamas fighters were carrying instructions on how to make chemical weapons, Israeli president claims

Hamas fighters who broke into Israel were carrying instructions on how to make chemical weapons, according to Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

Israeli forces claim they discovered the material on the body of a dead fighter in Kibbutz Be'eri, where an estimated 20% of the 1,100 residents were killed or kidnapped.

The documents, complete with diagrams, were shown to Sky News by President Herzog in an exclusive interview on Sunday evening.

Sky News is unable to independently verify the claims.

There is also no suggestion the fighters were carrying the elements to make a bomb on them.

The source of the documents is a known 2003 al Qaeda manual, however this doesn't prove a link between the two organisations.

"It's al Qaeda material. Official al Qaeda material. We are dealing with ISIS, al Qaeda and Hamas," Mr Herzog said.

"This is how shocking the situation is where we're looking at the instructions that are given on how to operate and how to create a kind of non-professional chemical weapon with cyanide."

The intelligence, which has been declassified, shows the ingredients needed to make a chemical bomb. Sky News has taken the decision to blur some of the material.

Our security and defence editor Deborah Haynes asked Michael Edelstein, a major general in the Israeli Defence Forces, about Mr Herzog's comments during a news briefing.

He responded: "On the capabilities that you ask about, the chemicals ... we are still looking for evidence about whether they had it or not.

"But the orders were there, as our President Herzog mentioned yesterday, orders were there on how to kill, how many to kill, how many to take as hostages."

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Mr Herzog was speaking in his first British broadcast interview since he became president.

Asked whether he understands why many Israelis are angry and feel they've been let down by the government and security forces, Mr Herzog agreed.

"Absolutely. I hear it all day long. I hear it from families all day long and I hear it from refugees, those who have had to leave and are now in hotels and other places around the country and shelters, only with a simple bit of clothing and that's it. People are very, very frustrated and clearly very angry and justifiably so."

But he wouldn't point the finger at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yet: "Because we are at war, because we have to overcome, because we are rising like a lion, because we have to defend our people and change reality, we will deal with all of that after the war."

Mr Herzog dismissed accusations that Israel's bombing of Gaza is having a disproportionate effect on civilians and argued that Israel has no choice but to eliminate Hamas.

"It's not true. We have realistic objectives. We say we want to wipe out the military infrastructure of Hamas. We've said it clearly. We are cautious. Already two weeks have gone by, and we haven't operated on the ground because we are cautious.

"I cry for the lives of Palestinians but first and foremost I cry for the lives of my nation."

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More than 4,500 people have been killed in 16 days of Israeli airstrikes, according to figures from the Hamas-controlled health ministry.

The United Nations and other humanitarian organisations operating in Gaza have said there is a humanitarian emergency in the Strip but Herzog claimed "most of Gaza" is "functioning".

"The problem is that part of the infrastructure, part of the aid is hijacked by Hamas. It's very easy to blame Israel."

Pushed on what happens to Gaza if Israel achieves its objectives and wipes out Hamas, Mr Herzog said that is the decision of Benjamin Netanyahu.

"Reality is shattered. People are asking themselves deep questions. Is it possible? Can I make peace with a neighbour who wants to chop my children's heads off? Is it feasible?"

"I can't go into this [a two-state solution] right now when my nation is bleeding, and in pain, and in agony.

"I'm always thinking about what kind of vision we can create. I believe in the inclusion of Israel in the region. As a part of the process we need to find a way to have a further life with the Palestinians, but not when they celebrate the fact that so many thousands of Israelis are being killed in the most horrendous terror attack in modern times."

Following the interview with Sky News, the president's office released a statement with further details about the discovery of the documents.

The documents were found on a USB stick on a dead Hamas fighter, they claimed. The source was an al Qaeda manual dated 2003, they said.