100,000 turn up to mark Hamas's 30th anniversary
Giant rally staged in Gaza City lines streets in green as terror group celebrates 30 years since its founding; buses bring in men, women and children, brandishing green Hamas flags to al-Katiba Square as speedboats carrying green and Palestinian flags skim the coastal enclave's waters.
Buses brought in men, women and children brandishing Hamas' green flags or sporting green scarves to the al-Katiba Square for Thursday's rally.
The huge sea of Gazans was joined by the head of Hamas's political bureau Ismail Haniyeh and the group’s leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar while the Hamas military wing choir sang on stage and to the electrified crowds.
The anniversary comes at a low point for Hamas, with the terror organization isolated by Egypt and being targted by Israeli airstrikes laucnhed in response to rocket attacks against Israel's population.
A decade after seizing Gaza by force, it has been compelled to seek reconciliation with its Fatah rival, led by President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.
Hamas blames an Israeli-Egyptian border blockade, lack of support from Arab and Islamic nations and Abbas' alleged attempts to undermine the group for the hardships in Gaza. This includes 43 percent unemployment and major blackouts.
Implementation of an Egyptian-brokered Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal has been slow.
On the other side of the border, southern Israel remained on high alert after the region had fallen prey to sixteen rockets from Gaza since US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
During a visit to the the Elsec factory of the Aerospace and defense company Elbit Systems in Sderot, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman attempted to calm heightened tensions in southern Israel.
“The fact that we are here this morning in Sderot, dealing with the expansion and upgrading of the industrial factory means that we can all be can all be relaxed,” Lieberman said.
The latest rocket fire from Gaza at Sderot, he continued, was the result of internal feuds among the Palestinians and between different competing organizations rather than failed Israeli deterrence.
But Lieberman also highlighted Israel’s ability to deal a devastating blow to Hamas, while urging the Gaza population to force the terror group to redirect its funds into economic rather than military projects.
“We know what to do, how to do it and when to do it. I hope that the the residents of Gaza will force their leadership to invest all their efforts and money in improving the economy in the Gaza Strip and not on digging tunnels, producing rockets and firing at Israel,” the defense minister said.
“Because by doing so, they are endangering the population of the Gaza Strip. In any event, I have instructed the IDF to be ready for all possible scenarios.”