Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

Monitoraggio attraverso i media internazionali delle elezioni in Israele del Febbraio 2009

Hamas says attacks have made it ‘more popular than ever’

Posted by Alessandro Accorsi su 20 gennaio, 2009

Phil Sands, Foreign Correspondent

The National – UAE

DAMASCUS // Hamas is stronger now than before the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, with the war only serving to undermine moderate factions and galvanise Palestinians behind the Islamic Resistance Movement, according to a senior Hamas official.

“Israel killed 48 of our fighters and those deaths will only bring more fighters to us,” said Talal Nassar, the chief Hamas spokesman in Syria. “Each martyr will have brothers, cousins, nephews and they will join Hamas to get revenge. We see the majority of the Palestinian people supporting Hamas, even those who disagreed with us in the past. No one can say Hamas is finished; we are more popular than ever.”

He insisted that the group was well stocked with materials and had even received a shipment of smuggled weapons yesterday despite the siege.

And Hamas’s military wing would have no trouble resuming attacks on Israeli forces if they failed to withdraw completely from Gaza by Sunday, he said, when a week-long ceasefire is due to end.

Crucially for the reconstruction effort in Gaza, Mr Nassar confirmed Hamas would accept outside aid and would co-operate with Fatah, its main Palestinian rival, led by Mahmoud Abbas.

“We will welcome any kind of help from the international community, from Europe or the United Nations, even if Mahmoud Abbas works with them, “ Mr Nassar said in an interview at Hamas’s headquarters in the Yarmouk neighbourhood of Damascus, an area mainly populated by Palestinian refugees.

Mr Abbas, a political moderate who has worked closely with the United States and Israel, is widely viewed by the international community as the Palestinian leader. Hamas, which was elected in 2006, disputed Mr Abbas’s claim to be head of the Palestinian Authority and said his decision to extend his own presidential term past its Jan 9 expiration was illegal.

Branding Mr Abbas a “traitor” to the Palestinian cause, Mr Nasser nevertheless said Hamas would work with him to secure international funding for rebuilding Gaza. Hamas, considered a terrorist organisation by the United States and Europe, remains wary that international aid will come with strings attached designed to bypass it and prop up Fatah.

“We will not allow money to be given to Mahmoud Abbas so that he can then control Gaza,” Mr Nassar said. “We will establish joint committees between Hamas and Fatah to rebuild. The legitimate elected authority in Gaza remains under Ismail Haniyeh”, the Hamas leader in Gaza.

Reconstruction assistance would also come from Syria and Iran, key supporters of Hamas, Mr Nassar said.

In his remarks, the Hamas spokesman predicted a quick formation of a Palestinian unity government. “Very soon we will sit with Mahmoud Abbas and we will establish a national coalition government. Not because Abbas is strong or wants it, but because he is weak and now has no other choice than to sit with us.”

And while he offered the prospect of a longer truce with Israel, if the current week-long ceasefire held, Mr Nassar said future violence was inevitable.

Hamas has demanded a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces and an end to a crippling 18-month blockade on the Gaza strip. In its own, separate ceasefire, Israel has said it will only pull out its troops if militants stop firing rockets. Israeli forces were continuing to withdraw yesterday, and the fragile peace appeared to be holding up.

“After the ceasefire, if the Israelis pull out, maybe we will sign a one-year truce with them,” Mr Nassar said. “Maybe we will sign a truce and after that we will continue to liberate all the Palestinian lands, from the river to the sea, including the 1948 lands. Whomever feels sympathy for the Zionists about this, let them open their countries to them.

“There can be no accommodation with Israel. Anyone who signs such an accommodation is a traitor. Between us and the Zionists there is just the language of the gun.”

International leaders, including key figures from the European Union, have been in the Middle East this week trying to turn the temporary truce into a more permanent peace and get desperately needed humanitarian aid into Gaza. The British prime minister, Gordon Brown, announced on Sunday a threefold rise in UK funds to the territory, promising an additional £20m (Dh110m).

“We are yet to discover the full scale of the appalling suffering,” he said. “But what is already clear is that too many innocent civilians, including hundreds of children, have been killed.”

Despite such condemnation of Israel, Palestinians say it comes as too little, too late. Other European leaders have made similar comments that Israel’s military assault was wildly disproportionate, but the criticisms were apparently ignored in Israel and did not bring an early halt to the war.

Mr Nassar warned that Europe’s Muslim population would not forget the EU’s lack of hard action.

“The European position through this was not good and effectively supported the Zionists,” he said. “They should understand that Europe will be the first to get damaged by the Islamic movements there. Revolutions always arise out of injustice.

“Now the Arabs see Europe as raising empty slogans while doing nothing on the ground. If these massacres had been done against animals Europe would have been upset about animal rights. When it is Arabs or Muslims being killed no one does anything.”

psands@thenational.ae

http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090120/FOREIGN/419613201/1002

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