‘JIHAD ONLY WAY OF LIBERATING PALESTINE’ – Hamas marks 3rd anniversary of Rantissi’s assassination

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The Hamas Movement on Tuesday affirmed that blood of Palestinian martyrs has mapped out the route of liberation for the next Palestinian generations to follow with steadfastness and resoluteness.

The Movement’s affirmation came as it commemorated the third anniversary of the assassination of its senior political leader Dr Abdul Aziz Al-Rantisi who was murdered with three Israeli missiles fired at his car in Gaza city three years ago.

‘Jihad is the only way for liberating occupied Palestine, achieving the national aspiration of the Palestinian people, and establishing the independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital’, a statement issued by Hamas underlined.

In this context, Hamas urged the international community to rescind the unjust economic siege it had imposed on the Palestinian people since March last year as a mass punishment against them for expressing their democratic option.

It also explained that the Israeli occupation government will, at the end, bow to conditions of Palestinian fighters who captured IOF serviceman Gilad Shalit, adding that the swap deal will be an honourable one for the Palestinian people.

Hamas, furthermore, urged the Palestinian people not to forego their national constants at all cost, adding that although the road of liberation might appear to be long; yet, more steadfastness and resoluteness is capable of achieving the Palestinian aspirations.

Paying great tribute to Rantisi and other Palestinian martyrs, Hamas affirmed that the Israeli occupation government is wrong if it thinks that killing Palestinian leaders will extinguish the ‘torch of Palestinian resistance’.

It also vowed not to forswear the legitimate resistance until occupied Palestine is completely liberated, all Palestinians prisoners are freed from Israeli jails, and Palestinian refugees are back to their homeland from which they were driven out at gunpoint in 1948.

Also on Tuesday, the Al-Buraq Army groups of the Fatah-linked Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for a shooting attack west of Ramallah.

An anonymous spokesman for the group told the Ma’an news agency in a telephone conversation that resistance fighters had carried out this operation.

In its statement, the Al-Buraq Army of the Al-Aqsa Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack on the settlers’ vehicle near Ras Karkar, stressing that this operation came in response to the assassinations and arrests carried out by the occupation forces against the Palestinians.

Earlier Israeli special forces had assassinated 24-year-old Al-Aqsa Brigades activist Ashraf Mahmud Nimir Hanayshah, alias ‘Al-Karazi,’ at the entrance to the West Bank town of Qabatiyah south of Jenin.

Medical sources said that the martyr Ashraf Hanayshah was executed by an Israeli special forces unit as he was in his car heading from Jenin to his birthplace: Qabatiyah.

The sources said that members of the Israeli force, driving a civilian vehicle, blocked Hanayshah’s car near the martyrs’ triangle at the entrance to Qabatiyah and arrested him.

The troops then led Hanayshah to a wooded area on the side of the road and fired several shots at his head and torso, killing him instantly.

The occupation forces also arrested three other citizens who were in Hanayshah’s car and lead them to an unknown destination.

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas said on Tuesday in Paris that he was hoping to persuade the European Union to resume its financial aid by lifting its ‘blockade’, which, according to him, favours ‘the rise of extremism’.

‘We talked about what worries us most, namely the financial and economic blockade, which we must try to lift,’ he told the press after talks lasting an hour with French President Jacques Chirac at the Elysee palace, during the first stop on a European tour.

The Middle East quartet, comprising the EU, the United States, Russia and the UN, decided to freeze direct aid to the Palestinians after Hamas formed a government in March 2006.

‘We are not discouraged, but we are working to obtain a change in European decisions on this issue,’ Abbas said.

‘Of course there are obstacles which we are trying to overcome,’ he added.

He warned that maintaining the blockade ‘will have extremely serious and negative repercussions for the Palestinian people’.

‘We are worried about the rise of extremism and about no longer being able to control the situation,’ he said.

Chirac, for his part, judged that the formation of a government of national unity was ‘a positive development’ favourable to the resumption of aid to the Palestinians during a meeting of European foreign ministers on 23 April, French presidential spokesman Jerome Bonnafont said.

Abbas, who said he was pleased about Chirac’s ‘understanding’, said the French president had assured him that ‘the French position with regard to the Palestinians will not change, regardless of the outcome of the presidential election’.

Earlier Abbas was quoted as saying that the mayor of Ramallah had decided to name ‘one of the most important streets’ in the city after the French president, whom the Palestinian president described as a ‘great man’.

Abbas also invited Chirac to visit the Palestinian territories ‘at a time of his choosing’.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, the Palestinian ambassador to the Arab League, Muhammad Sbeih, confirmed that the League would continue delivering money to the Palestinian presidency.

Sbeih said in Cairo: ‘The Arab League delivered, two days ago, $52 million to the Palestinian presidency’s account as part of a continuous process until the embargo on the Palestinian Treasury is over.’

Palestinian Minister of Finance Salam Fayyad told the Arab League that he will try during his international tour to lift the embargo imposed on his ministry, explained Muhammad Sbeih.

In a different regard, Sbeih affirmed that thirteen Arab foreign ministers arrived in Egypt on Tuesday aiming to work out strategies to promote the Arab peace initiative.

The meeting was due to start on Wednesday in the Arab League’s headquarters in Cairo in order to give the taskforces the green light to start contacts with Israel, the US, the Quartet (UN, EU, USA and Russia) and civil associations and parties all over the world.

On the issue of the continued siege, Sbeih confirmed that several countries such as Russia, Norway and Sweden, have informed the Arab League that they would cooperate with the Palestinian government.