Gaza Strip's Hamas
Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh gave a speech marking two years to the Gilad Shalit
prisoner exchange deal, which he dubbed a "victory" for the terror organization.
As expected, in the speech, billed as "strategic," Haniyeh opened with a few words about the "historic victory" Hamas registered with the Shalit deal and then moved on to on recent developments in Sinai, Egypt
as well as praising recent terror attacks and claiming that Hamas as succeeded in erasing all of Israel's redlines.
Attempting to accent his claims regarding the Shalit deal, Haniyeh quoted Israeli leaders who mentioned the heavy price Israel
had to pay – namely the release of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners – for Shalit's release. Haniyeh further promised that Hamas will continue to "use any mean possible" to release all the remaining prisoners in Israel's custody.
Haniyeh calls for renewal of intifada (Photo: Reuters)
"We call for the renewal of the popular intifada in the West Bank, to restart resistance within it," Haniyeh said, praising the recent string of terror attacks. "We send blessings to the heroes who undertook the recent attacks in the West Bank, and call on (Palestinians involved in the) resistance to stand up and take action at every possible moment to stop the threat facing the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem."
During his speech, Haniyeh stressed that Hamas is still strong and built on unity among its ranks and the Palestinian people. According to him, armed resistance is still the movement's strategy, and thus he slammed peace talks currently underway. According to him the talks are held only in a bid to better Israel's international standing and while negotiation, Israel continues to expand its settlement project – in contradiction of peace talks.
Haniyeh claimed that the armed resistance is still strong and undeterred in Gaza, in spite of the Israeli and Egyptian enforced blockage on the Strip. "Resistance fighters are silently preparing for the next battles in Palestine. Thousands of them are above the ground and thousands underneath, preparing to release our lands," referencing the IDF
's unearthing of a tunnel into Israel.
In the second part of his speech, Haniyeh commented on Hamas's status within a wider regional context, specifically in regards to the group's deteriorating relations with Egypt and the ambivalent relation the terror group has with embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad,
and by proxy with Hezbollah
and its patron Iran.
He expressed empathy with Arab people's desire for freedom, but much like Khaled Mashal, said he opposes the bloodshed which it seems to entail. He reiterated claims that Hamas remains neutral in regards to internal events in Arab countries such as Syria,
Egypt and Lebanon.
Haniyeh attempted to dispel rumors of a riff within the organization's leadership in wake of the Arab Spring, saying such claims were false. "Hamas has never been more united as it is today.”
Most of his speech focused on tensions with Egypt. Despite denying that Hamas is active in the Sinai Peninsula or anywhere else in Egypt, and demanding that the Egyptian authorities stop inciting against Hamas and Gaza, Haniyeh praised the regime in Cairo. According to him, claims that Hamas is in contact with the Muslim Brotherhood, like claims of Hamas's involvement in Sinai, are false.
The Hamas prime minister noted that his organization will turn its arms only against Israel and that "Egypt will remain the Palestinians' strategic" partner.
He concluded his speech by praising Gaza residents for their endurance during hard times.
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