Confirming the extent of the Israeli rout, Hamas’ armed wing said yesterday it lost only 48 fighters during the 22-day bombardment of Gaza and vowed to fight on unless the Zionist state withdrew its forces.
Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya said the Gaza war with Israel amounted to a ‘great victory’ for the Palestinians, in a televised speech on Sunday.
He said: ‘God has granted us a great victory, not for one faction, or party, or area, but for our entire people. We have stopped the aggression and the enemy has failed to achieve any of its goals.’
Abu Obeida, spokesman for the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, said in a televised press conference yesterday: ‘We announce to our people the martyrdom of 48 Qassam fighters.’
He added that Israel lost ‘at least 80 soldiers’ in the fighting. The Zionist state listed ten soldiers killed.
Gaza medics said a total of more than 1,300 Palestinians have died.
Obeida repeated the victory cry declared by Hamas leaders on Sunday as the guns fell silent.
He added: ‘We have given the Zionist enemy one week to pull out of the Gaza Strip, failing which we will pursue the resistance.’
Obeida warned: ‘Our arsenal of rockets has not been affected and we continued to fire them during the war without interruption.
‘We are still able to launch them and, thanks be to God, our rockets will strike other targets.’
Israel had failed to achieve ‘any of the objectives it had set for the war . . . and only killed hundreds of children, women and old people.’
‘The main aim of the war was to destroy Hamas and this resulted in crushing failure,’ the al-Qassam Brigades spokesman said.
Gaza enjoyed a second night of calm as Israeli troops and tanks continued their pull out, which was expected to be completed last night.
Zionist premier Olmert said Israel intended to withdraw troops ‘as quickly as possible’.