Hamas marks 30th anniversary at low point of Gaza rule

Hamas held a rally of many thousands celebrating 30 years since the founding of the terror group, despite being at a low point in its history.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

Hamas marked the 30th anniversary of its founding with a mass rally of many thousands of supporters Thursday, staging a show of strength at a low point in the Islamic terror group’s history.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a combative speech that the US and Israel have found themselves isolated following President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Hamas has called for a new Palestinian uprising against Israel in response to that recognition.

“We salute the beginning of rage, intifada and revolution,” Haniyeh told the large crowd that filled a sprawling lot known as al-Katiba Square.

Trump’s decision last week has triggered Palestinian protests, but it appears that Palestinian anger at the US will not lead to a full-fledged uprising.

Hamas wants to set up an Islamic state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, completely wiping out the Jewish state.

Thursday’s rally drew tens of thousands of Hamas supporters, many waving the movement’s green flag or sporting Hamas headbands as well as weapons. Masked Hamas terrorists marched behind the group’s political officials on a raised stage.

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A giant poster showing Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock mosque and a Hamas terrorist with a Palestinian flag and a rifle formed the backdrop. “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine” read the caption in Arabic and English.

The anniversary came at a difficult time in Hamas’ turbulent history.

A decade after seizing Gaza by violent force, it has been compelled to seek reconciliation with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party. An Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah in October has seen Hamas give up control of Gaza crossings, but differences over collecting revenues and control of Hamas’ massive arsenal hinder its progress.

Hamas blames an Israeli-Egyptian border blockade, lack of support from Arab and Muslim nations and Abbas’ alleged attempts to undermine the group for the hardships in Gaza.

The coastal territory suffers from 43 percent unemployment and worsening blackouts. In recent days, rolling blackouts lasted for 24 hours, followed by four hours of electricity.