Hamas elated by large turnout at funeral of top official in Jenin

According to the Hamas leaders, the large turnout at the funeral of Wasfi Kabaha, a former Palestinian Authority Minister of Prisoners Affairs, is a vote of confidence in the Islamist movement.

 Hamas supporters wearing veils and gloves take part in an anti-Israel rally in Jenin.  (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
Hamas supporters wearing veils and gloves take part in an anti-Israel rally in Jenin.
(photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)

Hamas leaders have expressed deep satisfaction over the participation of thousands of Palestinians at the funeral of one of the group’s West Bank officials who died of COVID-19 last week.

According to the Hamas leaders, the large turnout at the funeral of Wasfi Kabaha, a former Palestinian Authority minister of prisoners affairs, is a vote of confidence in the Islamist movement and its “resistance” against Israel.

In 2007, Kabaha briefly served as a minister in the Palestinian national unity government headed by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

Dozens of masked gunmen belonging to the armed wings of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Izaddin al-Qassam and Al-Quds Brigades participated Friday in the Kabaha's funeral in Jenin, which is controlled by the PA.

The mass funeral is seen by Palestinians as a show of force and a direct challenge to the PA by Hamas and PIJ supporters in the West Bank. The two groups have a strong presence in Jenin and its surroundings.

Kabaha, who died at the age of 62, was an outspoken critic of the PA, especially the crackdown by Palestinian security forces on Hamas and PIJ members in the West Bank. He had spent nearly 14 years in Israeli prison for security-related offenses.

Addressing the mourners by phone from Qatar, Haniyeh said the participation of thousands of Palestinians in the funeral was a “renewal of the allegiance to Hamas and the resistance.”

The large turnout, Haniyeh said, was also a sign of widespread popular support for Hamas’s positions, particularly the refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist and opposition to “giving up one inch of the land of Palestine.”

HAMAS CHIEF Ismail Haniyeh speaks to the press upon his arrival at the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip in 2017. (credit: ABED RAHIM KHATIB/FLASH90)HAMAS CHIEF Ismail Haniyeh speaks to the press upon his arrival at the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip in 2017. (credit: ABED RAHIM KHATIB/FLASH90)

Saleh al-Arouri, deputy chairman of the Hamas political bureau, said the large turnout showed that the Palestinians “rally behind the resistance.”

The West Bank is headed toward launching another intifada against Israel, he added.

Fathi Qara’wi, a former Hamas legislator from the West Bank, said the large number of Palestinians who participated in the funeral of Kabaha “restore hope to Palestine and the entire nation.”

Sheikh Hassan Yusef, a senior Hamas official in the West Bank, said the large turnout was “a message to all those who challenge Hamas and try to discourage it from continuing in its path.”