Hamas announced on Wednesday the launch of a series of events in the Gaza Strip to mark the 35th anniversary of its founding. The events will include military parades and rallies in several areas of the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave and are expected to reach their peak on December 14 with a major rally in Gaza City.
This year’s anniversary comes at a time when Hamas appears to be as strong, popular and defiant as ever, especially in the Gaza Strip.
In 2006, the Islamist movement won the elections for the Palestinian parliament, the Palestinian Legislative Council. A year later, Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip through a violent coup that led to the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.
Since then, various attempts to undermine Hamas or remove it from power have been unsuccessful. Most of the attempts were carried out by Israel and the PA.
Hamas has also faced a boycott by many Arab and Western countries. This, too, appears to have had little effect on Hamas, which continues to rule the Gaza Strip without facing any substantial challenges from home or abroad.
Hamas has also remained fully committed to its ideology despite claims by some Arab and Western political analysts that the group has softened its views in recent years.
The emblem Hamas chose to mark this year’s anniversary consists of a map of “Palestine” stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River and from Rosh HaNikra in the North to Eilat in the South. Attached to the right side of the map are a rifle and a Palestinian flag.
Hamas officials said the rifle symbolizes their group’s strategy of continuing the armed struggle “as the only option for liberating all of Palestine.” Since its founding in 1987, Hamas has carried out thousands of terrorist attacks against Israel.
The officials said this year’s anniversary of the founding of Hamas would be held under the slogan “We are headed toward Jerusalem with a roaring flood.”
The slogan, they added, is designed to affirm the Palestinians’ determination to “liberate Jerusalem and its holy sites” and foil any attempt to “Judaize al-Aqsa Mosque or divide it in time and space [between Muslims and Jews].”
On the eve of the anniversary, Hamas called on Palestinians to step up their “resistance and revolution” against Israel.
The call came as PA security forces continued their security crackdown on Hamas members in the West Bank. Since the beginning of the year, hundreds of Hamas members have been arrested or summoned for interrogation by the Palestinian security services.
Hamas official says they won't let Israel 'Judaize' Jerusalem
Senior Hamas official Osama al-Mazini announced the launch of the Hamas celebrations during a press conference outside the home of the group’s founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was assassinated by Israel in 2004.
Mazini, who was accompanied by a number of senior Hamas officials, said the slogan his group chose this year to mark its anniversary aims to send a message that Hamas will not allow Israel to “Judaize” or divide Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque.
Hamas would continue to support the Palestinians in the West Bank in their fight against Israel, he said.
Addressing Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, Mazini said the “warriors will come to uproot you... We will continue to carry the banner of truth and resistance until the liberation of Palestine.”
“We will continue to carry the banner of truth and resistance until the liberation of Palestine.”Osama al-Mazini
Another Hamas official, Maher Sabra, said on the occasion of his group’s 35th anniversary, it had a message for Israel: “We are coming with a roaring flood to uproot the occupier and that the Gaza Strip stands, with all its capabilities, together with the West Bank and Jerusalem.”
“You have no place on our land, and if you want peace, leave Palestine,” he told the Palestinian news site Safa.