by Dr. Reuven Berko
Whoever wants to understand just how dire the situation for Hamas is in the Gaza Strip needs to listen to the speech that was given by the organization's Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, a student of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin's, on Saturday. It was a speech of defeat aimed at the flocks in Gaza, trying to lift their spirits. The speech was akin to the story of the besieged city which sent a laundry maiden to pour water over the wall, as if the city had plenty of water to spare…
It was a speech of distress and not only because of the timing Haniyeh chose; not long after a massive underground tunnel between Gaza and Israel was discovered by the Israeli military, and while the measures being taken by Egypt against the group are getting harsher. Throughout the speech, Haniyeh positioned Jerusalem, al-Aqsa mosque and the demand of a "return" to 1948 Palestine as the triggers for a global Islamic explosion and as a call for unity.
According to Haniyeh, when the Muslims understand the tragedy of the Judaization of Jerusalem and al-Aqsa "to build the hall (his reference to a Third Temple) … per the decision of the Israeli Knesset," the Islamic nation will awaken. In his words, even if the Jews think their actions are solidifying their dream -- they will fail: "What we will do to the Jews is much worse than what they can endure."
Haniyeh emphasized Hamas' obligation to the armed struggle and called for Palestinian, Arab and Muslim unification in the real fight against Israel to return Palestine to its owner. He promised that the moment of conflict is drawing near and that "Hamas will surprise everyone in a move that will also surprise the enemy and turn the tide." In his spirit of belligerence he praised the recent terrorist attacks in the West Bank and called on West Bank Palestinians to do more and aim their rifles together at the enemy to keep hurting it.
Haniyeh spoke against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, saying that he and his people are conducting negotiations with Israel counter to the Palestinian consensus. He agreed it was correct to combine political action with military action, but that after the failure of the past 20 years and of the Oslo Accords it was clear that this system works against the Palestinian people and bolsters a positive image of Israel. Therefore, in the name of the fallen, the process must be stopped. According to Haniyeh, the Americans are not objective, work against the Palestinians and have sabotaged attempts at national reconciliation [between Hamas and Fatah].
He called for unification within the framework of the Palestine Liberation Organization, for political and military consolidation between the West Bank and Gaza, the cessation of security and political cooperation with Israel and the West and for the creation of a mechanism of temporary unity government, a joint security and "resistance" apparatus, and to set the date for elections based only upon arrangements agreed to until now.
The rumors about Hamas being broken were refuted by Haniyeh as expected. In his words, at hand is an organized public relations campaign waged by the enemy. He denied that Hamas was interfering in events in Arab states, namely Syria and Egypt, and reassured: We do not want an alternative homeland in Arab countries, Sinai or Lebanon; nor in Jordan. He threatened: "Anyone who thinks they can change the situation in Gaza and replace us is wrong. We are strong against the 'occupation,' and against stirring chaos and mayhem," a likely hint that Hamas intends to crush any opposition to it.
Haniyeh admitted that during the Arab Spring, Hamas indeed supported liberating the nations and the Islamists, only so that they would support the Palestinians. Regarding Egypt, he shared a secret: "We have helped Egypt with information about activity in Sinai that I cannot expand on," and he claimed that "if the Egyptians destroyed the tunnels, at least they should give us free and open passage through Rafah."
Finally, Haniyeh accused Israel, the same country he calls to destroy, of war crimes and demanded that the border crossings be opened without hesitation. Thank you, Haniyeh. One more speech like this and you're done for.
Dr. Reuven Berko
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