Hamas leaders vowed to continue fighting Israel as tens of thousands cheered and waved the group’s green flags and masked gunmen hoisted assault rifles, rockets and anti-tank missiles.
“We will not rest and will not abandon the path of Jihad and martyrdom as long as one inch of our land remained in the hands of the Jews,” said Raed Saed, a senior Hamas leader in Gaza City, using the Arabic term for holy war.
“We are celebrating our victory in Gaza and now we are headed toward Jerusalem, Nablus, Akko, Haifa, the Galilee and all of Palestine,” he said.
“Sharon, you should know that we will win – the only language spoken will be the language of weapons. We are young people who aspire to die for Allah and for the weapons we are carrying.”
Catch that language? Jerusalem (not “East Jerusalem”), Nabulus, Akko, Haifa, the Galilee and all of Palestine.
For the uninitiated, that means Israel.
I was cautiously optimistic at the start of the pullout plan, figuring that Sharon had a strategy and that this could at the very least break the stalemate and get Israel out of a region it didn’t want in the first place. I have to sadly concede that those opposed to the plan were probably right – not for religious or ideological reasons, but because it set a very dangerous precedent in rewarding terrorism.
Just when the violence was starting to wane, just as the Palestinians were starting to believe that maybe their approach was a mistake, the Gaza pullout handed them a victory to re-energize their ranks and start up the bloodshed all over again.
I’d hoped I was wrong about that. It sadly appears that I was right.