Gazans Stand With Hamas, Terrorism
"Jews! We have already dug your graves," declared Hamas official Mushir al-Masri at a half-million strong rally of support for Hamas in Gaza’s central square Saturday.
Al-Masri said that Hamas was eager to combat the IDF in any upcoming conflict. “The enemy’s exit from Gaza will be nothing like its entrance,” he said. “Gaza will become a graveyard for its soldiers.”
The Hamas official was joined by the terrorist group's top brass, some via teleconference, at a massive show of support for the Islamist movement that unequivocally broadcast a message of support for terrorism and the ongoing war with the Jewish state among Gaza’s Arabs.
“Today is the day of Jihad, resistance and uprising," Gaza’s Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said. Haniyeh was theoretically replaced by Fatah’s Salem Fayad after the Islamist group routed Fatah from Gaza, but maintains complete control of the area vacated by Israel during the 2005 Disengagement.
"The message from you today,” Haniyeh said to the huge crowd, “is that Hamas and these masses will not yield before sanctions. Your presence today, brothers and sisters, asserts the choice of resistance…against America and the Zionist occupation.”
Indeed, a clearer endorsement of Hamas’s terrorist tactics than the presence of one-third of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents at the rally could not be imagined. The stage was draped with Arabic, French and English banners reading: “We will not recognize what so_called Israel – Hamas [sic].”
Hamas Chief Khaled Mashaal, in a recorded address, said Hamas would never give up its violent tactics. "This is our real choice, our trump card, which causes the enemy to succumb to us," he declared. He went on to say that the destruction of Israel would necessitate more Intifadas.
Two Tracks – But Terrorism Works Better
A recurring theme in the day’s speeches was that there are two tracks in the struggle to destroy the Jewish State; but that Hamas’s armed attacks are more effective than Fatah’s negotiations – as was proven by Israel’s retreat from Gaza. Nevertheless, the message was that Hamas is eager to reunite with Fatah and pursue the end of Israel together.
"Those who remain committed to the constant rights of their people, those who make an enemy of America and the Zionist occupation gain popularity,” Haniyeh barked. “This is Hamas. We will never cede our land. The choice of resistance and Jihad is the best path to liberate Palestine and return Jerusalem. Not negotiations and meetings, sitting at round tables and exchanging smiles and chuckles with the Jews."
“The fruits of the other track, the track of negotiations, normalization and bargaining… all can see that it is the consolidating of settlements...injustice and oppression…they are bitter fruits,” Haniyeh said. "There is no such thing as a ‘just solution’ to the right of return," Haniyeh said, referring to the demand that all Arabs who lived in pre-1967 Israel and their descendents be allowed to return and dispossess the Jews living there. "It is the right of every refugee…to return to the land."
Hamas official Mahmud al-Zahar addressed the US and other backers of Fatah who aim to weaken Hamas through sanctions: "Our message to the world is that this movement cannot be destroyed. This celebration shows how in 20 years we have grown from a movement of 1,000 people to huge numbers.”
Haniyeh called for dialogue with Fatah free from any preconditions. Fatah publicly demands it be allowed to return to Gaza and receive an apology for the takeover.
(ABED AL KHATIB /Flash90)
Quarter or Half Million or More
Estimates ranged from 250,000 to 500,000. The Gulf Times reported “at least 500,000” while others reported “from 300,000-500,000.” The New York Times, Associated Press and AFP agreed that the rally was much larger than a Fatah rally held earlier this month, which was reportedly attended by 250,000.
The Real Popularity of "Resistance"
"This is the real referendum on the popularity of resistance, the people converging behind Hamas," 28-year-old Gaza businessman Zayed Herzallah told the Associated Press. "Hamas today, after 20 years and after thousands of martyrs, is graduating the fourth generation [of supporters]."
Another AP interviewee, Layali al-Kher, 27, expressed grassroots support for the terror group and even a forgiving tone toward the hardship of sanctions Hamas’s takeover had brought. “This siege was not imposed by Hamas but on them, so why should we criticize them?” she asked. “They’ve put Hamas in a bottle and they are trying to suffocate it. But they [Hamas] have achieved a lot: the streets are safe, the traffic is controlled. They have adapted quickly and have a strong will.”
Jordanian Islamist Group Calls for Renewed Attacks
The Islamic Action Front Party, a branch of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, held a protest in Amman Friday, calling on Hamas to renew terror attacks on Israeli civilians in population centers across the Jewish state.
The demonstration took place at the Al-Husseini Mosque following prayers.