Hamas vows to continue terrorist attacks

Palestinian radical group Hamas has pledged to sustain its campaign of violence, as Yasser Arafat states that Ariel Sharon is still his interlocutor for peace.

Khaled Mechaal, the head of the political bureau of the Hamas faction, stated on Thursday that his movement intends to keep up the campaign of violence which saw Israeli Defence Forces invade the West Bank recently, provoking unprecedented scenes of violence and casualties on both sides.

In an interview to a Yemeni newspaper, Mechaal accused Arafat of bowing to American pressure and promised “resistance until the end of the occupation”. However, he also pointed out that Abu Ammar (Arafat’s combat name) and his companions’ behaviour “affected the resistance and led to the ceasing of the suicide operations”.

He blamed Arafat for weakening the position of the Palestinian cause: “The fact that Abu Ammar accepted the imprisonment of six Palestinians under American and European control damages the resistance and Palestinian national unity”.

Claiming that the “Zionist State of Ariel Sharon” is guilty of attempting to annihilate the Palestinian cause “by repression, terrorism and force”, Mechaal declared defiantly, “We are going to use all kinds of weapons to guarantee our defence and to oblige the enemy to withdraw”. These declarations illustrate how difficult is the position of Yasser Arafat, caught between various factions, namely Fatah (Arafat’s faction), the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine), Hamas (the Islamic Resistance Front), Hezbollah (funded from Iran) and Islamic Jihad. Yasser Arafat founded Fatah in 1959, originally as an underground faction, from which it emerged as the main Palestinian group six years later, in 1965, gaining control of the Palestine Liberation Organization movement in 1969. The PFLP was set up by George Habash in 1967. It was a Marxist-Leninist group, which has been responsible for a number of terrorist attacks in the region and abroad. Historically, it has been funded by Syria and Libya. Hamas (from the Arabic Harakat Al-Muqawama Al-Islamia, Islamic Resistance Movement), is a fundamentalist organisation which pledges to destroy the state of Israel unless it withdraws from the occupied territories. Formed in 1987, its main power base is in the Gaza Strip. Hezbollah appeared during the 1980s when Israel invaded the Lebanon. It is linked to Islamic Shi’ites, funded by Iran, with its main support in the Shi’ite communities in the Lebanon. Islamic Jihad is a terrorist organisation with cells in many Middle Eastern countries, receiving funds from many factions spread through several countries. The discourse of this faction is direct confrontation with Israel until the occupied territories are freed. The Islamic Jihad has its power base in the young, disaffected and largely unemployed Palestinian population, who are easy to coerce into suicide bombings, called “acts of martyrdom”.

One of the leaders of Islamic Jihad, Sheikh Tamimi, wrote a work in 1982 entitled “The Annihilation of Israel: A Koranic Imperative”. With Arafat now free from his besieged compound, he has to broker peace talks with the Israelis but at the same time not be seen to be selling out by the more radical Palestinian factions. Should he fail, the Israelis will almost certainly opt for another interlocutor from the moderate Palestinian school, but this will not quieten the fundamentalists.


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