Monday, December 24, 2012

Hamas rally in Lebanon draws thousands

Thousands of people, including Lebanese politicians, attended a 25th anniversary celebration of Hamas' founding in a Beirut sports arena on Sunday night.

Progress MP Abdul Majid Saleh represented House speaker Nabih Berri and MP Jamal Jarrah represented former Prime Minister Saad Hariri on the podium. Original songs were composed for the occasion.

Ali Baraka, Hamas' representative in Lebanon, stressed that Hamas provided "25 years of giving and sacrifice for Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa, 25 years for the freedom of prisoners, 25 years for Palestine, all of Palestine." He added, "Resistance is the shortest route for the Liberation of Palestine, and we are united in the face of the occupation, and the right of return is a sacred right."

Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, speaking over the phone from Gaza, said that the choice of violent resistance is the strategic choice for Hamas and through it lies victory; it could bring about a "return," and the liberation of prisoners. He said that the "right of return" is a sacred right, and "every Palestinian must return to his village and his town in Gaza and the West Bank, to Jaffa, Acre, Safed and everywhere."

Haniyeh called for more Palestinian Arab rights in Lebanon, including the right to own land. He stressed that he was not demanding Lebanese citizenship for hundreds of thousands who were born and raised in Lebanon, instead asserting that they were "guests" would one day "return" to "Palestine."

Haniyeh also cannily said that Hamas would send funds to displaced Palestinians from Syria who fled to Lebanon, a hugely symbolic political move at the same time that Fatah is struggling to pay its debts.

"Today you celebrate in Lebanon; tomorrow you will celebrate in Jerusalem, God willing," he concluded.

So far, no English-language media has covered this.

Here are photos: