Monday, October 30, 2006
Tens of thousands of Palestinians Reassert Allegiance to Hamas
Israeli occupied al-Khalil
Flying in the face of concerted efforts by Israel, the United States and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) to topple the Hamas-led government, tens of thousands of Palestinians on Friday, October 27, reasserted their support and allegiance to the beleaguered Islamic movement.
Organizers and police sources estimated that over 60,000 people converged at the Wholesale Vegetable Market arena outside Hebron to express their rejection of international efforts to oust Hamas and replace it by a Fatah-led government that would recognize Israel, give up the Palestinian refugees’ right of return and put an end to armed struggle against the Israeli military occupation.
Many of the participants said they would vote for Hamas if elections were to be held now.
“Supporting Hamas is a matter of principle for me and my family. We would still support Hamas even this blockade were to last for 10 years or 20 years, " said Hasan Hurub, a 37-year-old teacher from the nearby town of Dura.
“We support Hamas because Hamas represents Islam, and as a Muslim, I must support those who stand for Islam.”
Thousands of teachers like Hurub have not received their full salaries for the seventh consecutive month thanks to draconian sanctions imposed by the United Stats and Israel aimed at toppling the Hamas-led government or forcing it to recognize Israel and stop armed resistance to Israel’s decades-old military occupation of Palestine.
During the huge rally, which lasted for nearly two hours, speakers lambasted “the enemies of Islam” for starving the Palestinian people.
“They are trying to starve you the same way the idolaters of Quraiesh sought to starve the Holy Prophet of Islam and his blessed companions. And as the old enemies failed then to stop the light of God, today’s enemies will fail this time as well,” said one speaker.
“The battle is one and the same, they want to destroy Islam, and the outcome will always be the same, Islam will emerge triumphant and victorious.”
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismael Haniya spoke via telephone from Gaza, vowing that Hamas would not succumb to international pressure to recognize the Israeli occupation.
However, Haniya suggested that Hamas would settle for a viable state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, coupled with the repatriation of Palestinian refugees to their original homes in what is now Israel, in return for an extended peace agreement or (hudna) with Israel.
He argued that “this unjust and oppressive world is putting all its weight against us to make us give up our rights and give up our dignity.”
“But, no, we will not put all our cards in the American basket.
“I tell you my brothers and sisters, yes, there are challenges and suffering and pain, but whoever dreads climbing the mountains shall live forever deprived of freedom and dignity.”
Haniya lashed out at the United States for turning against democracy in Palestine when the outcome doesn’t suit its whims and interests.
“We are in favor of a genuine government of national unity based on the National Concordance Document. But you know there are those who want a government in Palestine tailored according to the American standards. And I tell you we will not allow them to steal our people’s dignity, we will not allow them to arrogate our people’s will to earn freedom and independence.”
Haniya also tacitly castigated PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’s party, Fatah, for displaying national commitment in public but conspiring with the enemies of Palestine in secret.
“True patriots don’t burn our people’s property, true patriots don’t destroy and vandalize government buildings. These criminal actions will not benefit the perpetrators and those who stand behind them.”
Fatah had been hoping that the suffocating economic crisis haunting Palestinians would seriously undermine Hamas’s popularity.
Indeed, Fatah leaders, particularly in the West Bank, on several occasions called for fresh general elections in the hope that voters would oust Hamas and bring Fatah back to power.
However, today’s huge demonstration of popular power by Hamas shows that Fatah’s calculations are still far from accurate.