Hamas: 'Popular army' formed for 'liberation of al-Aksa'

Hamas claims 2,500 Palestinians have already been recruited to contingent allegedly preparing for future confrontations with Israel.

Hamas youth popular army (photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas youth popular army
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas has declared the formation of a "popular army" at the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday,  according to a report by the AFP.
A spokesman for the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades - Hamas's military branch - said the 2,500 recruits would form "the first section of the popular army for the liberation of al-Aksa and of Palestine," according the AFP report.
Mohammed Abu Askar, a Hamas official, said those older than 20 could sign up "to be prepared for any confrontation" with Israel.
Hamas recently formed a "popular army" for young Palestinians to prepare them to "confront any possible Israeli attack," Hamas officials said on Thursday in the Jabaliya refugee camp.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad issued separate statements on Thursday calling on Palestinians to take to the streets following Friday prayers “in solidarity with al-Aksa Mosque.”
Hamas called on all Palestinians, especially youths, to “move to save the Aksa Mosque and defend Jerusalem against the Israeli siege imposed on the city.” Friday should be turned into a “special day in the history of the Palestinian struggle to preserve our rights in Jerusalem,” it said. The movement also called on Palestinians to clash with soldiers and settlers in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The Islamic Jihad organization also urged Palestinians to take to the streets on Friday to voice solidarity with the Aksa Mosque.
The time has come for a “popular revolution” against Israeli measures in Jerusalem, the group’s representative, Muhammad al-Harazeen, said, claiming Israel was seeking to alter the city’s Arab and Islamic identity.
Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batsh said Israel was working toward “evicting” Palestinians from the Aksa Mosque. Batsh praised the recent terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, saying they reflected the outrage of Palestinians toward Israeli measures in the city and on the Temple Mount.
KHALED ABU TOAMEH and Reuters contributed to this report