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Hamas commander hails 'unity' of Palestinian struggle

Abu Ubeida, from the military wing of the Hamas movement, said Gaza was ready to 'pay the cost on behalf of an entire Ummah' in the struggle against Israel's occupation
Fighters from the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades
Fighters from the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, take part in an anti-Israel military show parade in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip 11 November 2019 (AFP)

The spokesperson for Hamas' armed wing said the violent Israeli crackdown at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque had brought "unity" to the Palestinian cause, as Hamas-controlled Gaza continued to be pounded by Israeli air strikes.

In a speech released on their Telegram account on Thursday, Abu Ubaida, spokesman of the Izzideen al-Qassam Brigades, said demonstrations which began in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and around al-Aqsa Mosque before spreading across the occupied territories and Israel were an indication that Palestinians were coming together as never before.

What distinguished the latest uprising was, he said, the "unity of our people in all arenas and their engagement with the occupation at different levels depending on the circumstances in the field".

"For our people do not agree on anything as they do on the Jewel of the Crown, their sacred capital, and do not rally around something as they do around the option of resistance in dealing with this arrogant enemy," he said.

'The decision to strike Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Demona, Ashkelon … is easier for us than a drink of water if our Al-Aqsa is desecrated and our dignity is violated'

- Abu Ubaida, Izzideen al-Qassam Brigades

"Greetings to our rebellious people in Jerusalem, the West Bank and in Palestine that was occupied in 1948, who are the first line of defence for al-Aqsa and the holy places and are at the immediate frontline with this enemy."

He addressed Israel, saying the world had "seen your failure and your shame".

The violence that has erupted across Israel and the occupied territories comes in the wake of the failure by the Palestinian Authority, which controls the occupied West Bank, to hold elections for the first time in 15 years.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas delayed the planned legislative and presidential elections in late April, saying they would not be held until Israel guaranteed voting could take place in East Jerusalem, which Israel considers part of its territory.

The polls had originally been called as part of a push to mend ties between the Fatah party, which dominates the PA ruling the West Bank, and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip. The delay likely exacerbated tensions between the two rivals.

Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007 after winning the previous year's election. The result was not recognised by Fatah, and internecine fighting broke out which resulted in Fatah being largely routed from the Gaza Strip, but maintaining power in the West Bank.

'Brittle entity'

In his speech, Ubaida called for all Palestinians to "rise to battle in every field", and said the uprising against the Israeli state consisted of "one body, one people, one destiny and one resistance".

"What an alleged state - that claims to be the primary power in the region while it directs its rage and rockets of its malice toward safe apartments, civilian residential towers and public institutions, and targets children, women and civilian facilities - to take pride in the amount of destruction and firepower," he said.

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He described Israel as a "brittle entity" that was "aching" from the barrage of rockets fired out of Gaza, something he described as "unprecedented in the history of the conflict with you since you stole our land in 1948".

At least 83 Palestinians, including 17 children and seven women, have been killed in Gaza since Israel began bombing the besieged enclave on Monday. Hundreds of rockets have been launched into Israel from Gaza as well, killing seven people.

Ubaida said the people of Gaza were willing to "pay the cost on behalf of an entire Ummah", the Islamic term referring to the global Muslim community.

"The decision to strike Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Demona, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Beersheba, and our occupied cities before them and after them, is easier for us than a drink of water if our al-Aqsa is desecrated and our dignity is violated," he said.