AND THOUSANDS OF PALESTINIAN GATHERED IN HAMAS 20TH ANNIVERSARY
and thousands of Palestinian rallied in central Gaza City on
Saturday to mark Hamas's 20th anniversary, Waving green flags and
banners, throngs of Palestinians poured into Katiba Square in Gaza
city ahead of the rally at which Hamas leaders Ismail Haniya,
Mamoud Al-Zahar, Sa'id Siyam, Osama Al-Muzini, and tens others
reaffirmed their commitment to stay on the road of resistance and
keeping the Palestinian legal rights.
and jihad (holy struggle) is the best path to the liberation of
Palestine, not negotiations and meetings, sitting at round tables
and exchanging smiles and chuckles with the Jews," Haniya
told the crowd.
rally was the largest show in the Palestinian history to
prove that Hamas still has the best popularity and people despite
all the conspiracies.
calls for the unity of the Palestinian factions and said that
Hamas is ready to dialogue with Fatah but "without
conditions," accusing Abbas's government in the West Bank
town of Ramallah of preventing a return to unity.
are for dialogue and we call for it and welcome it, but the door
to dialogue there (in Ramallah) has been closed. We say there
should be a dialogue with no winners, no losers, and no
conditions," he said.
Palestinian security forces said they arrested at least 26 Hamas
supporters in raids across the West Bank, the latest in a series
of measures aimed at dampening the Islamists' power in the
territory Abbas controls.
television said that supporters in Gaza streamed in from towns and
villages all across the coastal territory, home to some 1.5
million people, in cars and horse-drawn wagons, blocking streets
throughout the city centre.
of thousands of veiled women, masked men and children waving Hamas
flags mixed in the crowd, but the exact number of people attending
the rally remained unclear.
huge banner reading "We will not recognize Israel" was
placed on the backdrop of the stage in defiance of Israel's
closing of Gaza to all but essential humanitarian supplies.
minister and senior Hamas member Said Siam told AFP that the
massive turnout "is the answer to those who say Hamas is
top Hamas leader Mahmud al-Zahar said that "our message to
the world is that this movement cannot be destroyed.
celebration shows how in 20 years we have grown from a movement of
1,000 people to huge numbers," he told AFP.
roots (of Hamas) stretch into the heart of the nation and into
every part of the land," Mushir al-Masri, a former
parliamentarian, shouted to the crowd from the podium.
years -- from the stone to the knife, from the bullet to the bomb,
from the mortar to the rocket, and from the martyrdom operations
(suicide bombings) to the tunnels of Hell."
exiled leader Khaled Meshaal said in comments on Saturday that the
Palestinians are capable of launching a new uprising against
Israeli occupation like the intifadas of 1987 and 2000.
people are capable of launching a third or fourth Intifada until
victory is ours," the Damascus-based Hamas chief said.
admitted that the movement's 20th anniversary came amid
"difficult circumstances and a painful situation for the
besieged Palestinians in Gaza."