Islamic Hamas movement on Tuesday reaffirmed on its 23rd anniversary that it will not recognize Israel and will protect the Palestinian principles. Ismail Haneya, the leader of Hamas’ government in Gaza, said that his movement will “continue correcting historical drift” that hit the Palestinian cause after Palestine Liberation Organization recognized Israel. Haneya was talking to more than 100,000 Hamas supporters and members, who gathered with their families in Al-Katiba square in Gaza City. He emerged on the podium through a frame depicting Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque. Haneya recalled an earlier offer presented by late Hamas’ founder, Ahmed Yassin, that Hamas can accept a long-term ceasefire with Israel without recognizing the Jewish state. “We liberate what we could in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem or any other, then a truce.” In his lengthy speech, Haneya also criticized the West Bank- based Palestinian National Authority for “running behind illusion, ” urging it to give up commitment to peace and “work on armed resistance.” Hamas took over Gaza by force in 2007, a year after it had one parliamentary elections. Now, Gaza is politically separated from the West Bank, where Abbas’ Fatah party holds sway. Haneya said his movement “moves to the reconciliation as much as Fatah does.” He reiterated that Hamas will not sign an Egyptian proposal for reconciliation before settling some controversial issues with Fatah.
Hamas’ supporters made sure to attend the celebration of the anniversary and came from all around Gaza, waving green flags and pictures of Ahmed Yassin, who was killed by Israel in an airstrike in 2004, and pictures of other leaders like Haneya and exiled politburo chief Khaled Mashaal.]
The Hamas charter states that it is ” is one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine” and an Israeli TV station has reported that in 2008, Muslim Brotherhood “representatives” traveled to Gaza from Egypt through the open border to meet with Hamas. An earlier media report indicated that shortly after Hamas took over the Gaza strip, Muslim Brotherhood representatives were present to review Hamas military formations. Last June, a Hamas journalist acknowledged the role that the “international Muslim Brotherhood” has played in providing funds for the purchase of weapons.