* via JW
“Celebrating anniversary, Hamas warns of Intifada,” by Nidal al-Mughrabi for Reuters (thanks to Pamela):
GAZA, Dec 15 (Reuters) – Hamas threatened to launch a new uprising against Israel on Saturday when hundreds of thousands of Islamist supporters rallied in Gaza City to mark the group’s 20th anniversary.
“Our people are capable of launching a third and a fourth intifada until the dawn of victory rises up,” said Khaled Meshaal, the group’s exiled leader, in a speech recorded on Friday at his base in Damascus.
The Tiny Minority of Extremistsâ„¢ is actually not so tiny.
The central square in Gaza City was awash with green flags and dozens of armed, masked men from the group’s military wing patrolled in a crowd estimated at between 300,000 and 500,000.
Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said the movement was growing more popular because of its stance against the United States and Israel.
“Today is the day of Jihad, resistance and uprising,” Haniyeh said.
* But don’t be concerned. Remember, jihad has many meanings, and is primarily an interior spiritual struggle. (Memo to Ibrahim Hooper: See, Ibrahim, I could do your job for you, my good man!)
“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.” […]
Meshaal said Abbas, whose administration is backed by the West, lacked the support of the Palestinian people.
“Whoever thinks his legitimacy comes from the international backing is under an illusion, the legitimacy is the people,” Meshaal said.
Alluding to last month’s Israeli-Palestinian talks in Annapolis, Maryland, Haniyeh said conferences “will achieve nothing”.
“We will never cede our land … The choice of resistance and Jihad is the shortest way to liberate Palestine and return Jerusalem,” Haniyeh said.
* In other words, “f**k off, just send money!”
GRAVES ALREADY PREPARED
In another speech to the rally, senior Hamas official Mushir al-Masri warned Israel to expect many casualties if troops invade the coastal territory in an attempt to stop almost daily rocket firing by militants into 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.
The crowd featured many who are poor and devout, with many veiled women and masked men. Layali al-Kher, 27, said there was little money in her family, because restrictions on cement and raw materials have led to the closing of factories and a halt to construction. “But this siege was not imposed by Hamas but on them, so why should we criticize them?” she asked. “They’ve put Hamas in a bottle and they are trying to suffocate it. But they have achieved a lot: the streets are safe, the traffic is controlled. They have adapted quickly and have a strong will.”
A Hamas legislator, Mushir al-Masri, told the crowd that after 20 years, the roots of Hamas “stretch into the heart of the nation and every part of the land.”
“Twenty years,” Mr. Masri said, “from the stone to the knife, the bullet to the bomb, the mortar to the rocket, and from the martyrdom operations to the tunnels of hell.”
On Monday, in Paris, Mr. Abbas and Mr. Fayyad will attend a donors conference of Western countries who are likely to pledge the $5.6 billion in budgetary and development support over the next three years, in large part to try to show Gazans that Fatah’s willingness to negotiate a peace with Israel is a preferable path.
Steven Erlanger reported from Jerusalem, and Taghreed El-Khodary from Gaza City.