Hamas defiant after Israel’s ‘unilateral ceasefire’

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PALESTINIAN resistance movements and their fighters remained defiant after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared on Saturday that the Israeli War Cabinet had decided to implement a unilateral ceasefire from 2 am yesterday morning.

Early yesterday, 10 rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza, four landing near the Zionist settlers’ town of Sderot and resistance fighters exchanged fire with Israeli troops in Jabaliya.

Olmert said: ‘Together with our aims, which have been reached’, we have ‘decided to commence a ceasefire’. He added: ‘We will stop our action in Gaza and maintain our positions there.’

A US-Israeli ceasefire agenda was agreed in Washington on Friday between United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, in the dying days of President George Bush’s administration.

In response to the Washington-Tel Aviv agenda, Hamas and all the Palestinian resistance movements, meeting in Damascus yesterday, declared a one-week ceasefire and presented their demands.

Ayman Taha, a senior Hamas official said: ‘Hamas and the (resistance) factions announce a ceasefire in Gaza starting immediately and give Israel a week to withdraw.’

A Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Farzi Barhoum said: ‘The occupier must halt his fire immediately and withdraw from our land and lift his blockade and open all crossings and we will not accept any one Zionist soldier on our land, regardless of the price that it costs.’

Olmert’s statement is an admission of failure by Israel. The Zionists have not stopped rocket launching, the stated aim of Operation Cast Lead, and have not established ‘facts on the ground’ to destroy Hamas militarily and politically, by engineering ‘regime change’ ahead of President-elect Barack Obama taking office.

The weakness of the Zionist entity is a manifestation of the crisis of its imperialist sponsors, primarily the US, which is being decimated by the world capitalist financial crisis and growing slump.

The firing of rockets yesterday morning and the statements from Hamas express the steadfastness of the Palestinians of Gaza in resisting the Zionist occupation and the murderous Israeli war machine.

As a result of the bombing blitz and tank invasion of Gaza by the Israeli Defence Force over the past three weeks, more than 1,200 people have been killed, mostly civilians including 400 children, and 5,400 wounded.

The millions of people, who have taken to the streets in all the Arab countries and throughout the world against the Israeli war criminals, must act now to stop more atrocities by the Zionists and provide real support for the Palestinians fighting to end occupation.

This is most important in the US and within the European Union, particularly in Britain, where the governments, overtly or covertly, sustain the Zionist entity of Israel in its brutal occupation of Palestine.

In Britain, the trade unions, through the Trades Union Congress, must organise political and industrial action to force Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Labour government to break off diplomatic and trade relations with Israel.

If this government will not take this small step, after the recent collective punishment and mass murder of Palestinians in Gaza, then it should be removed and replaced with one that will.

Israel must be forced to implement United Nations resolutions and obey international law. It must be driven out of Palestinian and other Arab territories that it occupied in the 1967 war. All the Zionist settlements in the occupied territories must be closed down.

The Palestinian people have the right to self determination and to be represented in negotiations to end the Israeli occupation by their elected Hamas government. Hamas won the last Palestinian Authority Legislative Elections in 2006.

Governments throughout the world must recognise Hamas as the legitimate elected representatives of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories.

There must be action now to end the Zionist occupation and go forward to an independent State of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital, that will afford Palestinian refugees the right to return.