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300,000 mark Hamas' 20th anniversary

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    The message from you today is that Hamas and these masses will not yield before the sanctions, Haniyeh told the cheering onlookers. The crowd shouted in
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2008
      The message from you today is that Hamas and these masses will not
      yield before the sanctions," Haniyeh told the cheering onlookers. The
      crowd shouted in response, "To you, we come Haniyeh."

      At least 300,000 Gazans rally to mark Hamas' 20th anniversary
      By News Agencies

      At least 300,000 Palestinians rallied in Gaza City on Saturday to mark
      the 20th anniversary of Hamas's founding, as deposed Palestinian prime
      minister Ismail Haniyeh promised Hamas would not succumb to
      international pressure.

      The central square in Gaza City was awash with green flags and dozens
      of armed, masked men from the group's military wing patrolled. Some
      estimates put the crowd as high as 500,000.

      "The message from you today is that Hamas and these masses will not
      yield before the sanctions," Haniyeh told the cheering onlookers. The
      crowd shouted in response, "To you, we come Haniyeh."

      "Today is the day of Jihad, resistance and uprising," he said. "Those
      who remain committed to the constant rights of their people, those who
      make an enemy of America and the Zionist occupation [Israel] gain
      popularity. This is Hamas."

      Haniyeh lambasted the renewal of peace talks between Israel and
      Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' administration in the United
      States last month, warning they will not bring about a cessation of
      Israeli settlement construction or yield any other Israeli concessions.

      "As for 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 for the Palestinian
      people," Haniyeh said. "It is bitter fruits."

      The Hamas leader warned Abbas against conceding in peace talks on the
      Palestinian demand that refugees who fled past wars with Israel and
      their descendants be allowed to return to their homes. Their fate is a
      key sticking point in the talks that are meant to iron out a final
      peace agreement.

      "There is no such thing as a just solution to the right of return,"
      Haniyeh said. "It is the right of every refugee ... to return to the

      Meshal: Palestinians can launch more intifadas
      Hamas' Damascus-based political leader Khaled Meshal threatened
      Saturday to launch a new intifada against Israel, warning in a 20th
      anniversary message to Hamas TV that Hamas would not abandon violence.

      "This is our real choice, our trump card, which causes the enemy to
      succumb to us," he said. "Our people are able to launch a third and
      fourth uprising until the dawn of victory arrives."

      Meshal said Abbas, who controls the West Bank, does not have the
      mandate to negotiate with Israel.

      Addressing the rally, senior Hamas official Mushir al-Masri warned
      Israel to expect many casualties if Israel Defense Forces troops
      launch a major operation in the coastal territory in an attempt to
      stop almost daily rocket fire by militants at Israel.

      "Jews, go back, because we have already dug graves for you," Masri
      said. Israel carries out regular raids on Gaza and has killed dozens
      of militants in the past month.

      This week, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said a major incursion
      into was becoming more likely. "We will come to the point where we
      will have to carry out the big operation," he said.

      Large pictures of Hamas' leaders, both in Gaza and in exile, were
      draped across the speakers' podium. A black banner hanging from a
      nearby building read, in Arabic, English and French: "We will not
      recognize Israel."

      "This is the real referendum on the popularity of resistance, the
      people converging behind Hamas," said Zayed Herzallah, a 28-year old
      merchant, who brought a van full of young relatives. "Hamas today,
      after 20 years and after thousands of martyrs, is graduating the
      fourth generation (of supporters)."

      In the crowd were about 50 female members of Hamas' military wing,
      dressed in long robes and sporting military-style ammunition vests.
      Some covered their faces with veils, others with ski masks. Several
      took to the stage, waving green Hamas flags.

      Hamas says PA detained 26 of its supporters in West Bank
      Also Saturday, Hamas said Palestinian security forces loyal to Abbas
      had arrested 26 of its supporters in the West Bank.

      "The Palestinian security forces continued the detention campaign that
      targets Hamas supporters in various cities in the West Bank," Hamas
      said in a statement faxed to the press.

      The statement added that most of the detainees were arrested in the
      town of Qalqilya.

      "The arrests are meant to prevent Hamas from marking its 20th
      anniversary," the statement said.

      Hamas' anniversary rally comes amid heightened tensions between the
      two main Palestinian factions. On Friday, Hamas police arrested Omar
      Al-Ghoul, an adviser to Abbas' prime minister, Salam Fayyad, and
      seized some of his belongings.

      Al-Ghoul was the most senior Fatah politician to be detained since
      Hamas forces overtook the territory in June.

      Also Friday, three people were killed in a mysterious explosion at a
      Fatah-organized funeral in Gaza City. Witnesses said a man carrying
      explosives in a jacket accidentally detonated them, while Hamas
      security said a member of the procession threw a pipe bomb.

      Fatah quickly accused Hamas of being behind the explosion, and the
      Ramallah government announced Saturday a national day of mourning.
      Hamas denied involvement, and issued orders to question another senior
      Fatah official in Gaza, Ibrahim Abu Naja, accusing him spreading the
      rumors. As of Saturday, Abu Naja was not in detention.



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