A massive rally has been held in Gaza City to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas and the start of the first Intifada (Palestinian uprising) in 1987. A crowd estimated at 100,000 people braved strong winds and rain to attend. Those in attendance included solidarity campaigners from around the world.
The event coincided with the first visit to Gaza of the head of the Political Bureau of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), Khaled Meshaal. It was his first time on Palestinian soil for more than 40 years. Joining him on the platform was his deputy, Moussa Abu Marzouk and the elected Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh.
The speakers told the huge crowd that the recent victory against Israel’s offensive bombardment of the Gaza Strip was first of all thanks to the Will of God, and because all of the resistance factions responded to the cries of the people. Mr. Haniyeh praised Egypt and other Arab states for their support and solidarity with the cause of Palestine.
Khaled Meshaal assured the crowd that the movement will not give up “one inch” of historic Palestine, “from the sea to the River Jordan, from north to south”. He called for the factions to reconcile their differences and come together for the cause. The leader of Hamas praised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for his success at the United Nations, calling it a small but positive step.
“Palestine was, is and will remain Islamic and Arab,” he insisted. “We can not recognise the legitimacy of Israel’s occupation, so how can we recognise the legitimacy of Israel? Palestine belongs to us, not to the Zionists!”
Describing Jerusalem as “our eternal capital”, Meshaal said that resistance “is a means, not an end”. Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the territory occupied in 1948 is all Palestine, he added.
“Liberation must come first, then the state,” he insisted. “A liberated state, not a state built out of negotiations; a state with real sovereignty over the land of free Palestine.”
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad