Hamas rallies in Gaza, marks 31st founding anniversary amid calls for anti-Israel attacks

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-17 00:03:44|Editor: mmm
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Palestinians take part in a rally marking the 31st founding anniversary of Hamas in Gaza, on Dec. 16, 2018. (Xinhua/Stringer)

GAZA, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- Tens of thousands of Palestinians joined on Sunday a massive rally organized by Islamic Hamas movement in western Gaza City to mark 31 years for establishing the movement that has been ruling the Gaza Strip since 2007.

Men, women and children from all over the Gaza Strip towns, villages and refugee camps, many of them brought by buses, arrived on Sunday morning at al-Kateeba Square in western Gaza city, close to the Islamic University.

All Hamas leaders, including the movement's politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh and Hamas chief in the Gaza Strip Yehia Sinwar, were wearing green caps while arriving at the square to join the rally.

Leaders of various factions, like the Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front and the Democratic Front as well as a delegation representing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Fatah Party were also invited and attended.

The mass crowds of Hamas supporters gathered at the yard of the square, waved the movement's green flags, as well as Palestinian flags, and watched live shows and songs presented by various Hamas music bands, some of them wearing Hamas armed wing military uniform.

Member of the Political Bureau of the Democratic Front Talal Abu Zarifa delivered a speech before the mass crowd on behalf of the Palestinian factions.

"Today we came here to say that we are renewing the era of loyalty and to stress the continuation of the armed resistance approach," said Abu Zarifa, who also called for ending 12 years of internal Palestinian division and regaining unity.

Meanwhile, the mass crowds of participants in Hamas rally chanted slogans that urge more military attacks against Israel in the West Bank. They waved Hamas flags and flew balloons carrying photos of Palestinians killed in the West Bank.

"I came here to attend the rally and express my feeling of pride of Hamas movement. I'm fully confident that one day, Palestinians, led by Hamas and its armed wing al-Qassam Brigades, will defeat Israel," said Fadwa Ibrahim, a 45-year-old housewife from Gaza who came with her three children to attend the rally.

The massive rally was ended with a long speech addressed by the chief of Hamas politburo Ismail Haniyeh, who slammed Israel, the United States and "those who are cooperating with them."

"These huge and blessed crowds are a right and direct response to those who besieged us and fought us. Freeing you is our responsibility, and breaking the handcuffs surrounding your hands is on the top of our priorities and we will get you out of jail," Haniyeh told the crowds.

He announced that Hamas rejects the expected peace plan that the United States is preparing for the Middle East.

"Our people strongly said no for the deal. It won't pass even if this head is removed from this body," Haniyeh vowed.

Hamas movement, which was found on Dec. 14, 1987 by its late spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was assassinated by Israel in 2004, is still listed by the United States among the world's terrorist organizations.

Hamas, who carried out hundreds of deadly attacks against Israel over the past 31 years, joined for the first time in 2006 the Palestinian parliamentary elections and won more than two thirds of its 132 seats. In 2007, its militias took control of the Gaza Strip by force and routed President Abbas' security forces.

"When Hamas says something, believe it and when it promises, it fulfills its promises," said Haniyeh.

He slammed Israel and said that Israel was defeated in terms of security and militarily abilities and politically and diplomatically defeated in the UN. "The failure of the vote in the UN was a proof of political defeat to Washington and to Israel," he stressed.

Haniyeh also said the recent escalation in the West Bank was a response to the "humiliation of our people, a response to Judaizing Jerusalem and confiscating the land."

He ended his speech with calling for unity and reconciliation, saying Hamas is ready to help form a unity government that comprises all factions.

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KEY WORDS: Islamic Hamas