Tens of thousands of Hamas supporters held a peaceful rally in Gaza on
Friday to denounce the state of Israel and declare that they would never
recognize its right to exist.
“We ask God to punish the so-called Israel and the allies of Israel and to
punish those who recognize Israel and those who called on us to recognize
Israel,” Hamas lawmaker Mushir al-Masri told the crowd that thronged the
Jabalya refugee camp.
“We vow to God that we will never recognise Israel even if we would be all
killed,” Masri told the cheering audience of men, women and children, many
of whom were wearing green Hamas baseball caps and held aloft Hamas banners.
Masri, a popular young lawmaker, also aimed criticism at Fatah, a rival
movement headed by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, saying it
was trying to pressure Hamas, which now runs the Palestinian government,
into recognizing Israel.
“Those people are demanding us openly to recognize the occupation and that
will never happen,” Masri said.
Hamas and Fatah have held talks in recent weeks over the possibility of
forming a unity government, but those negotiations now appear to have almost
completely broken down.
“The protest aims to stress our rejection to recognize the legitimacy of the
occupation,” Masri said, referring to what Hamas views as Israel’s
occupation of all historic Palestine.
Hamas, which is regarded as a terrorist organization by the United States,
European Union and Israel, has struggled to run the government since it came
to power in March because of financial sanctions imposed by the West against
Hamas came to power after winning elections in January.
Most of the Palestinian government’s 170,000 employees, including tens of
thousands of security staff, have largely gone unpaid for the past seven
It was hoped that the formation of a unity government with the more moderate
Fatah movement might have led to the lifting of at least some of the
In recent weeks, protests have been held against Hamas’s government
throughout the West Bank and Gaza, with teachers, doctors and other
essential workers going on strike to demand the payment of their salaries.
“The protest is against the siege and against the attempts by some to carry
out a coup against the government,” Masri said, again apparently referring
to pressure from Fatah.
Loud speakers played songs supporting Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, a
senior Hamas figure, during the rally and Masri vowed that Hamas’s
administration would go on governing no matter how much pressure was applied
“This government and the leadership of Hamas of the Palestinian people will
continue throughout its legal term, for four years,” Masri said.