Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh gestures as he delivers a speech over U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in Gaza City December 7, 2017.
(photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)
Palestinian Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh praised his movement on Sunday, claiming that it would liberate all its prisoners and return them to their “homeland.” Speaking at the 31st anniversary of the founding of Hamas, his speech was carried live by Iran’s Press TV. Hamas live tweeted part of it.
Haniyeh began by praising the Palestinian people and the “resistance.” He said the mass gathered in Gaza showed that despite efforts to “defame” Hamas, the movement had not been cut off.
“Hypocrites cut support and funds to Gaza in order to push them to surrender,” he said. He didn’t mention who had cut support for Gaza. Qatar has provided $30 million in financial support recently to salaries in Gaza, but Hamas may have been aiming its critique at either Iran or Qatar, both of which have reduced their support this year for residents of the Strip and for Hamas itself.
Haniyeh praised Sheikh Ahmed Yassin
, the former leader of Hamas. He also praised the “martyrs” and “prisoners.” For the prisoners, he claimed that “liberating you is our responsibility.” He promised that Hamas would get the prisoners out of their cells so they could “live in your homeland.” He asked other Palestinian factions to support his efforts. “The anniversary comes while the Palestinian arena is full of incidents, starting with the Great March of Return which was launched eight months ago.” He went on to claim that the Palestinians had spurned the US “deal of the century” while praising Qatar and Egypt for their role in mediating in Gaza.
Haniyeh touched the usual points of Hamas rhetoric, claiming that the Palestinian people support “resistance” and are willing to sacrifice their lives for it. According to a statement from Hamas put on social media, Haniyeh also praised his own movement for interdicting efforts of “Zionist special forces,” and claimed that the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, had thwarted attempts by Israel to infiltrate Gaza. He praised Nour Baraka, the Hamas commander killed in November in a clash with Israeli special forces. He claimed his movement still has “technical assets” and is confronting Israel. “We will remain vigilant and guarded.” He also praised the demonstrators who have been protesting weekly against Israel.