Hamas: Israel humiliated by pullout
Mohammed Deif, master bomb-maker believed to be behind a string of suicide bombings that have killed hundreds of Israelis, says, ‘We should keep the arms of resistance raised side by side with the political work’; urges Hamas, Palestinian Authority to ‘choose dialogue to resolve any differences in order to preserve Palestinian blood and our national achievements’
A Hamas leader who tops Israel's most wanted list said on Saturday the Jewish state had been humiliated by its Gaza pullout and warned Palestinian officials against stopping what he called armed resistance by militants.
Mohammed Deif, in hiding since surviving an Israeli air strike on his car two years ago, delivered the message through Hamas' office in a video tape and written statement to reporters in Gaza.
He vowed to continue attacks on Israel until the Jewish state is erased from the map.
The footage gave no indication of his whereabouts.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview with Reuters earlier this week he hoped to persuade armed groups to choose dialogue with Israel instead of confrontation.
In his message, Deif told Israel: "You have occupied our land. Now you are leaving Gaza humiliated."
Then in what he described as a call to the Palestinian Authority, Deif said: "We should keep the arms of resistance raised side by side with the political work and we warn against harming this weapon that liberated Gaza.
"Let it continue to be active and operational to liberate the rest of our homeland."
He urged Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to "choose dialogue to resolve any differences in order to preserve Palestinian blood and our national achievements.”
Deif, a master bomb-maker believed to be behind a string of suicide bombings that have killed hundreds of Israelis, has topped Israel's most wanted list for more than 15 years.
In his message, Deif also addressed the people of Iraq and said they should learn from "Gaza's liberation" that armed struggle could lead to victory against occupiers.
Israel evacuated all 21 settlements in Gaza and four of 120 in the West Bank this week as part of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to "disengage" from conflict with Palestinians. Rightist critics of Sharon condemned it as surrender to more than four years of violence.
Hamas and other terror groups have agreed to a so-called "period of calm" with Israel until the end of the year at Abbas' urging, but Israeli security officials have voiced fears the militants could step up attacks in the occupied West Bank.
Sharon has said Israel would not restart peace talks or discuss further pullouts from Jewish settlements until the Palestinian Authority disarms terrorists, as dictated by a U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan.
Abbas has said direct confrontation with armed groups could lead to civil war and that he preferred to co-opt them into the Palestinian security services and political system.
Hamas plans to challenge his Fatah group in parliamentary elections in January.