Hamas celebrated the 27th anniversary of its founding with a military parade (Arabic link) yesterday, showing off its arsenal of weapons and the burning of a Jew in effigy.
In addition, Hamas took the opportunity to launch a new psychological warfare attack against Israel, releasing footage it claims is of Mohammed Deif, the founder of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades paramilitary group, who was targeted by Israel during this summer’s fighting in Gaza. A spokesman for the Qassam Brigades, Abu Obeida, spoke at the rally, warning Israel that his movement will invade Jerusalem. He also said that his organization would release all Palestinian prisoners, suggesting that it would be seeking to kidnap Israeli soldiers.
Hamas has somehow found the funds to put on a big 27th birthday bash, but not to rebuild Gaza. pic.twitter.com/MOPCXexnCM
— Jonathan Schanzer (@JSchanzer) December 14, 2014
Agence France-Presse reports that Hamas had a drone overflying the parade, and recounted other elements of Hamas’ arsenal that were on display.
On the ground, rocket and mortar launchers trundled through the rain-swept Gaza streets along with thousands of masked, black-clad and helmeted fighters of Hamas’s military arm, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.
Lorries carried larger rockets, such as the locally produced M75, which have a range of 80 kilometres (50 miles), meaning they can reach Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Frogmen of the Brigades’ naval commandos posed in wetsuits and other militants rappelled down the walls of a building.
— Ilån Bεn Zıon (@IlanBenZion) December 12, 2014
Hamas was founded on December 14, 1987 by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Gaza, headed by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. The movement’s popularity grew rapidly after taking part in “resistance attacks” (Muqawama) against Israel in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In 2006, Hamas won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. However, since Hamas refused to accept the Quartet’s principles of “non-violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations,” the United States, the European Union and Israel refused to recognize Hamas’ governing authority. Subsequent to the election, clashes between the two movements led to a bloody coup in the Gaza Strip in 2007 that included the expulsion of most personnel from Fatah (the party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas) and the establishment of Hamas as the governing authority in Gaza.
On April 23, 2014, Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation agreement, seven years after the split between them. The agreement included the establishment of a unity government for six months, followed by holding elections for the Legislative Council and the presidency. However, these agreements have not been implemented and the unity government has not met its objectives in Gaza because of ongoing disagreements between the two political movements.
With the loss of its sponsor, the Muslim Brotherhood, in Egypt, Hamas has sought a new patron and is seeking to strengthen its ties with Iran. A Hamas delegation visited Tehran to discuss ways to rebuild the relationship between the two sides, it was revealed recently. During the anniversary celebration, a speaker thanked Iran for its military help (Arabic link).
#Hamas: Thank you, Iran, for the rockets, especially the anti-tank missiles, that were used to attack the Zionists.
— Khaled Abu Toameh (@KhaledAbuToameh) December 14, 2014
[Photo: IDF Facebook page ]