Dozens of Islamic militants fired rifles in the air Tuesday in a rousing homecoming for a member of the Palestinian national soccer team who was released by Israel after being held for three years without formal charges.By the way, news of Sarsak's release received modest attention in most Palestinian Arab media, but it was plastered all over Islamic Jihad's Palestine Today as well as their terror wing the Al Quds' Brigades newspaper, Saraya, with no fewer that four featured articles in each Islamic Jihad paper.
The player, Mahmoud Sarsak, 25, had staged a hunger strike for more than 90 days to press for his release, winning support from international sports organizations.
Israel accused Sarsak of being active in the violent Islamic Jihad group, a charge he denied while in custody.
However, senior Islamic Jihad officials were present during a welcoming ceremony for him in Gaza City on Tuesday, and one of the group's leaders, Nafez Azzam, praised the soccer player as "one of our noble members."
Later Tuesday, as Sarsak approached his family home in the Rafah refugee camp, dozens of Islamic Jihad gunmen fired in the air from SUVs and motorcycles. Women waved black Islamic Jihad banners from nearby homes and streets were decorated with huge photos of the player.
Now, why would Islamic Jihad be so much happier about Sarsak's release than, say, Hamas?
Here's the Al Quds Brigades poster celebrating Sarsak, in the section of its site dedicated to "Jihadist graphics":