The following is the full text of the speech by Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas Political Bureau, on the first day of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, 7 October, 2023, as reported by Al-Jazeera:
In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
O children of our Palestinian people, O children of our Ummah [the Arab-Muslim community]. Today you have a rendezvous with a great victory and a dazzling triumph. From the front line of the indomitable and proud Gaza, Operation Al-Aqsa Flood has been launched by Al-Qassam Brigades [the military wing of Hamas], the Resistance factions and the children of our Palestinian people. You have seen the grand images of these pious and courageous fighters who drew the stigmata of humiliation, defeat and collapse on the face of the enemy. Operation Al-Aqsa Flood announced by my dear brother and Commander of the Resistance General Staff, mujahid Mohamed Deif, is led on the ground by the Commander of the Hamas Islamic Resistance, with brother Yahya Sinwar in the forefront; Al-Aqsa Flood which is led by the leaders of this movement from all its positions, with all the [other] Resistance factions, with all the children of our people, with all the children of this Ummah who aspire to a Great Victory.
What did these defeatists expect, [these Arabs] who have spread the culture of impotence and despair, and wanted the path to normalisation [of relations with Israel] to shape this stage with recognition of the enemy? Did they ever imagine they would see such images, such heroic deeds, such sacrifices, such courage, such pride? The perpetrators of these feats are “men who were sincere in their commitment to God. Some of them have reached their end [martyrdom], and others are still waiting; and they have not varied in any way (in their commitment).” (Quran, chapter 33, verse 23). These men shaped the gates of the Great Victory, and opened them for our people and our Ummah. These men, who know the Qur’an by heart, fast and pray in adoration of God the Most High and Exalted, have attacked and “penetrated inside the dwellings” (Quran, chapter 17, verse 5) in the heart of our territory occupied [by the enemy], around Gaza and further afield: “Help [from] God and a (promise of) upcoming victory.” (Quran, chapter 61, verse 13). You are most magnificent, O men of faith, O men of Al-Qassam Brigades, O men of Gaza, Gaza of pride and dignity, of courage, heroism and sacrifice. Today, Gaza erases from the Arab-Muslim community the shame of defeat, the shame of acceptance and inaction. You are most grand, O commanders who lead this battle, the battle of the beginning of the Liberation of Al-Quds [Jerusalem], our land, our people and our prisoners held in the jails of the Zionist occupation.
O my brothers and sisters, we warned the world about this fascist government [in Israel], which has let the settlers and usurpers loose to sow corruption in the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque in Al-Quds. We told them, “Don’t play with fire”. We told them, “Don’t cross the red line.” But they plugged their ears and closed their eyes [to our warnings]. And because of their arrogance and insolence, in recent days, during their sinister religious festivals, they have invaded Al-Aqsa Mosque. They desecrated and defiled it. They molested our women. They entered with their shoes up to the mihrab and minbar [features inside the mosque]. They imposed on our people what appears to be a ban on movement in the Holy City [of Jerusalem]. They have forbidden prayer in the Sanctuary of Ibrahim [Cave of the Patriarchs, Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron].
We have warned them, and we have warned the whole world, that even if, in the face of what is happening in Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa Mosque, the whole world remains silent, we will not be silent, we will not stand idly by; not our people, not our Resistance, not our Al-Qassam Brigades, not this Ummah.
We also warned them about the intensifying colonisation of the West Bank. This [Israeli] government planned and continues to plan for two million Zionist settlers in the West Bank, with the aim of Judaising it and tipping the demographic balance by adding occupation to the equation, including in the West Bank itself. And all of this is paralleled by continued aggression against our people there. How many times have they attacked Jenin, Tubas, Nablus, Tulkarem, Al-Khalil [Hebron], Ramallah, Al-Bira, Bethlehem and all the other cities? How many times have they killed our young men, women and children before the [indifferent] eyes of the whole world? They didn’t listen. Certainly, there is popular Resistance in the West Bank which has not laid down its arms, and which is returning blow for blow and more, and carrying out heroic operations [against the occupiers]. Such are our people. But this [Zionist] enemy and this government thought the situation was favourable to them, and persisted in their aggression.
How many times have we warned the world and this enemy that there are prisoners in the jails of the Zionist occupation, more than 6,000 of our brothers, our children, our youth, our heroes, our men and women, some of whom have spent up to 30, 40, even 43 years behind bars? And this enemy persecutes our prisoners on purpose. The sadist [National Security Minister Itamar] Ben-Gvir makes decisions to impose more pressure and persecution on our prisoners. This government and all Israeli officials have turned their backs on any call for indirect negotiations for a prisoner exchange to free our [political] prisoners.
How many times have we warned them about the unjust blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip, which has led to all this human suffering? Gaza, which has been under this blockade for almost 20 years, made worse by four or five [devastating Israeli] wars [of aggression] that have seen tens of thousands martyred and wounded, and destroyed homes; Gaza, which is experiencing this humanitarian crisis in a giant [Israeli-made] prison that locks up more than 2.2 million of our people and our families. In Gaza, at the heart of this blockade, which is only broken by a little [humanitarian] aid, a few authorisations [for imports] to throw sand in the [world’s] eyes. They believed that Gaza, its inhabitants and our people would swallow these blatant injustices and keep quiet in the face of this humanitarian crisis, and in the face of everything that is happening in Al-Quds, Al-Aqsa and the West Bank.
How many times have we warned you about what you are committing and perpetrating in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948 [today called Israel], and your attempts to isolate our people there? You have spread death, terror and targeted assassinations among our people there. All the operations to eliminate Palestinian figures, leaders and scholars; even women, children and ordinary citizens within the territories occupied in 1948, are an occupation policy, and one of the [unjust] actions of the Israeli security services.
How many times have we warned them of the existence of a Palestinian people who, for 75 years, have been living in the diaspora in tents and refugee camps? You don’t recognise our people, and you don’t recognise our [legitimate] rights. And, unfortunately, many countries in the world have covered up this Israeli policy and this Israeli arrogance.
And when Al-Aqsa Mosque finds itself in imminent danger… what has happened, O my brothers? In the last few days, we have seen some absolutely incredible things. And we have confirmed information that this [Israeli] government is preparing to impose its sovereignty and authority over blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque. And we have full information assuring us that it will persist in its aggression, colonisation, arrests and blockade, and take advantage of the normalisation process achieved with certain Arab countries and governments to give its presence in the region a veneer of legitimacy, at the expense of our people, our rights, our suffering and our sacrifices.
Israel considered that its strategic environment, its power and arrogance, as well as the silence of the Arab and Muslim peoples, and the world’s preoccupation with the war between Russia and Ukraine, made the moment propitious for it to carry out this project and put an end to this battle in Al-Quds, Al-Aqsa, the West Bank and elsewhere [in occupied Palestine]. But as God the Most High and Exalted has declared, “You did not think they would leave, and they thought that in truth their strongholds would defend them against God. But God came to them from where they did not expect, and cast terror [yes, terror] into their hearts. They demolished their houses with their own hands, as much as with the hands of the believers. Learn from this, O you who are gifted with foresight.” (Quran, chapter 59, verse 2).
Enough is enough! There was no choice but to embark on this strategic course, and complete the cycle of the First and Second Intifadas, revolutions and Resistance, and crown them with the battle for the liberation of our land, our holy places and our prisoners held in the jails of the Zionist occupation. The promise was to be fulfilled at dawn, and we said to them with God Most High, “Is not the dawn near?” (Quran, chapter 11, verse 81). That morning saw the sun of victory and glory rise over our people and our Ummah, and over free men and women all over the world. And it was the morning of defeat, humiliation and collapse for our enemy, its colonies, its settlers and its soldiers.
What happened today [Saturday, 7 October], O Palestinian people, O children of the Ummah, reveals the greatness of this Resistance, the greatness of our readiness and the credibility of our declarations, the veracity of our promises and Operation Al-Aqsa Flood. What happened today reveals the powerlessness of the enemy. Today, the enemy has had a political, military, intelligence, security and moral defeat inflicted upon it, and we shall crown it, with the grace of God, with a crushing defeat that will expel it from our lands, our holy city of Al-Quds, our Al-Aqsa mosque, and the release of our prisoners from the jails of the Zionist occupation. We had four [Israeli] prisoners, and [the enemy] refused to respond to intermediaries’ solicitations, calls or anything else [to agree to an exchange of prisoners]. And the Resistance had declared more than once that the harvest [of Zionist soldiers] would continue, and that the bill would increase. The Resistance and its leaders do not speak in vain. Now, see the extent of your prisoners, see the number [of Israelis] who have fallen into the hands of Al-Qassam Brigades and the Resistance.
This is why I declare today to all the Palestinian people: O our people, be at the highest level of readiness. This battle has begun, and will be fought with blood and fire, with glory and arms. The battle has moved to the heart of the Zionist entity, not only with the missiles of the Resistance, but also with the Resistance fighters, the men of Al-Qassam Brigades. That’s why I want to stress three things that must be made clear:
- Operation Al-Aqsa Flood was launched from Gaza, but it will extend to the West Bank, to Al-Quds and to our people within the territories occupied in 1948, as well as to the Resistance and the Palestinian people abroad.
- This battle is not only that of the Palestinian people, or that of Gaza: Gaza is the spearhead of the Resistance and has launched this battle, but since it concerns the entire land of Palestine and Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa, it is the battle of the entire Arab-Muslim community. This is why I call on all the children of this community, wherever they may be in the world, to join in this battle, each in his own way, without delay or turning away, and not to be of those whom God the Most High and Exalted described in these terms: “But their departure [to battle] was repugnant to God; He made them indolent. And it was said to them, ‘Stay with those who remain behind’.” (Quran, chapter 9, verse 46). Rather, with God’s Grace, be among those who, when called, rush to battle, and those who, when their holy places are desecrated, stand up with honour to fight with their lives and with their possessions, and do not lag behind. This is the battle of the Palestinian people and the battle of the Arab-Muslim community. We have unleashed it, and with God’s grace it will end in the victory that God has promised His virtuous servants.
- Our objective is clear: we want to liberate our land, our holy sites, our Al-Aqsa mosque, our prisoners. We have no hesitation about this. This is the goal that is worthy of this battle, worthy of this heroism, worthy of this courage. Al-Qassam Brigades made the enemy lose its balance in just a few minutes, with this grand and blessed incursion; with this epic presence of men who write history with their blood and their guns; with their footsteps that crush the occupying invaders.
I appeal to our Resistance [groups], to our West Bank, to our people, to our Resistance abroad, to our strategic allies, to all the children of this [Arab-Muslim] community: this is your day. We have an appointment with victory, to work together for this grand victory, with the Grace of God the Most High.
In conclusion, to this threatening and irruptive enemy, we say: neither your threats, nor your irruptions, nor your arrogance, have served you so far, and they will be of no use to you in the future. We have only one thing to say to you: get out of our land. Get out of our sight. Get out of our city of Al-Quds and our Al-Aqsa Mosque. We no longer wish to see you on this land. This land is ours, Al-Quds is ours, everything [here] is ours. You are strangers in this pure and blessed land. There is no place or safety for you.
And we say to all countries, including our beloved Arab countries: you must know that this entity which is incapable of protecting itself from our fighters is incapable of providing you with security or protection. All the normalisation and recognition processes, all the agreements that have been signed [with Israel] can never put an end to this battle. It is the terrain that will put an end to this battle; it is these heroic fighters who will put an end to it; it is the blood of the pure martyrs and the heroic deeds of this people, its wounded and its prisoners that will put an end to it.
O Gaza of greatness, O Gaza of dignity, O honour of this Arab-Muslim community, O shapers of glory and the future, O Resistance factions, I send you my proud greetings, for you have raised our heads so high that they touch the sky. We tread the ground so hard that it trembles beneath our feet. And our cry resounds to the stars. And with God’s grace, we’ll all meet again in the land of Palestine, in Al-Quds, at the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque. “And they ask you when this will happen. Tell them: perhaps very soon.” (Quran, chapter 17, verse 51).
“Surely, God has purchased from the believers their lives and their wealth in exchange for Paradise. They fight in the path of God: they slay, and they are slain. This is an authentic promise He has taken upon Himself in the Torah, the Gospel and the Quran. And who is more faithful than God to His commitment? So rejoice in the exchange you have made: And this is a mighty victory…” (Quran, chapter 9, verse 111)
May God’s prayers and greetings be upon our master, Prophet Muhammad, his family and his companions. This is the ultimate jihad, the outcome of which can only be victory or martyrdom. May God’s Peace be upon you, and His Mercy and Blessings.