A special commemorative programme was held last Saturday on the sixth anniversary of the martyrdom of Dr. Abdel Aziz Al-Rantissi. The day-long event – the Festival of those Faithful to Resistance and Martyrs was organised by Hamas to remember the assassination of one of their most prominent leaders on 17 April 2004. The festival took place in the Cultural Centre in Khan Younis.
Speaking on behalf of Hamas, Dr. Saleh Alrqub pledged that the Islamic Resistance Movement will stay firm on the path chosen by Dr. Al-Rantissi, and he reminded the audience of pertinent aspects of his journey towards his martyrdom, many of which remain as vivid examples to reinforce “the spirit of resistance to, and the struggle against, the Israeli occupation”. Dr. Al-Rantissi, said Alrqub, once declared in public that he would be martyred by an Israeli Apache helicopter, and that is what happened. “When Abdel Aziz Al-Rantissi was martyred, he revived the nation,” said Dr. Alrqub. “Thanks to his and other martyrs’ blood and sacrifices, the movement has come to what it is now.”
According to Dr. Alrqub, Palestinian unity was a major concern of Dr. Al-Rantissi and he worked hard to achieve it. When he became the leader of the Islamic Resistance Movement after the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (also by an Israeli helicopter gunship, as the crippled sheikh was leaving the mosque in his wheelchair), Dr. Al-Rantissi said that he would “call upon all the Palestinian national and Islamic factions and forces to create unity on the basis of the basic values and resistance”.
Another speaker at the festival was Islamic Jihad political bureau member Dr. Mohammad Al-Hindi, who called for the formation of a real frame of reference for the protection of Jerusalem and the sacred places. He praised the virtues of Dr. Al-Rantissi and his unifying role, pointing to the special relationship that he had with him as they worked towards cooperation between factions, supporting resistance and preserving basic values. Dr. Al-Hindi emphasised Dr. Al-Rantissi’s “sensitivity… and vision of the struggle, which included ways to resolve it using Islamic methodology”.
“The shedding of blood is what unites our people,” Dr. Al-Hindi said, pointing out that in these few days the anniversary of Dr. Al-Rantissi’s killing is remembered along with the anniversary of the martyrdom of Shaheed Khalil al-Wazir Abu Jihad as well as that of Mahmoud Tawalbah, the commander of Al-Quds Brigades in Jenin. He added that although Dr. Al-Rantissi was a leading figure in Hamas, since his death he has become a symbol of the whole of Palestine and the entire Islamic nation.
Testimonies recorded especially for the festival were played to the audience, during which the Palestinians were urged not to give up the struggle as exemplified by Dr. Al-Rantissi. Those who sent such testimonies included the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and General Guide, Dr. Mohammed Badi; the Comptroller General of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan and the Brotherhood’s Jordan leader, Dr. Hammam Saeed; prominent preacher Wagdy Ghoneim; the Imam of Al-Aqsa Mosque and poet Dr Mohammed Siyam; Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal; and Hamas leaders Dr. Yunus Al-Astal and Sheikh Ahmed Nemer.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.