Mashaal calls for guerrilla warfare to ‘liberate West Bank’ and ‘all Palestine’

Former Hamas chief says ‘resistance’ is ‘pinnacle of life’ and defines Palestinians: ‘I resist, therefore I am’

Khaled Mashaal speaks in Doha, Qatar, August 28, 2014. (AP/Osama Faisal)
Khaled Mashaal speaks in Doha, Qatar, August 28, 2014. (AP/Osama Faisal)

The former leader of the Hamas terror group has called on West Bank Palestinians to prepare for “guerrilla warfare” in the West Bank and ongoing “resistance” to force Israel to retreat from the territory.

Khaled Mashaal said this would be a step on the way to its retreat from “all of Palestine.”

Speaking on the Al-Jazeera TV network on December 2, Mashaal, in a play on René Descartes’ famous philosophical proposition, said: “The Palestinians say ‘I resist, therefore I am.'”

In comments translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, Mashaal said that according to the Quran, “Jihad, resistance, and self-defense [are] the essence of life.

“The abandonment of Jihad leads to humiliation and death. Hence, resistance is the pinnacle of life. A person who lives under occupation, and who does not resist, is in fact dead.”

Mashaal, who headed Hamas’s political bureau between 1996 and 2017, claimed there was no alternative way to “liberate” the Palestinian nation.

“When did Israel withdraw from southern Lebanon? It wasn’t a result of negotiations — not in Madrid and not in Washington. It retreated as a result of resistance. When did it retreat from Gaza? After the [Second] Intifada in 2000 and the heroic resistance. Today we are being called and preparing to force Israel to retreat from Jerusalem and from the West Bank. Allah willing, this is on the way to its retreat from all of Palestine,” he said.

He called on the West Bank’s Fatah to join Hamas in popular resistance against Israel, saying it should take an example from the people of the Gaza Strip.

“The West Bank spans over 5,600 square kilometers, and has mountains and valleys. I’m from there, I know the landscape. It has everything necessary for guerilla warfare. Why are we not preparing for that?”

A Fatah spokesman on Thursday called on Palestinians to ignore calls for a new armed uprising against Israel in the West Bank, urging them to instead step up peaceful protests against the Jewish state’s military rule.

“We need to be smart…and not listen to the talk of the demagogues about the necessity of going to an armed confrontation,” Fatah spokesman Osama Qawasma told Palestine TV, the official Palestinian Authority television channel, Thursday night. “My words are candid. We must escalate popular resistance in the Palestinian lands.”

Hamas has for years called on Palestinians to stir up a confrontation with Israel in the West Bank.

On Friday the Palestinian Authority police cracked down on a Hamas protest in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, beating demonstrators with batons and throwing stun grenades.

Some 50 Hamas activists confronted Palestinian forces after Muslim prayers on Friday, as the terror group marked the 31st anniversary of its establishment.

Palestinian security forces beat a Hamas supporter as they try to disperse a rally marking the 31st anniversary of the founding of the terror group in Hebron on December 14, 2018. (Hazem Bader/AFP)

Hamas condemned the PA for suppressing the demonstrations. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement on the Hamas website that the “barbaric behavior” was proof the PA “denigrated the blood of the martyrs.”

The Palestinian Authority, led by president Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party, cooperates closely with Israeli security, while Hamas has fought three wars with the Jewish state since 2008.

Hamas cells continue operate in the West Bank despite PA and Israeli efforts to arrest them. The protests come amid a surge of terror attacks in the West Bank, some of them claimed by Hamas.

Two Israeli soldiers were killed Thursday and two other Israelis injured when a man opened fire at a bus stop at a settlement in the West Bank, before fleeing.

Hamas has claimed two other recent shooting attacks in the West Bank but has so far not taken responsibility for Thursday’s attack, near the settlement of Givat Assaf.

The Israeli military says it believes a Hamas cell conducted a drive-by shooting attack near the settlement of Ofra Sunday, in which seven people were wounded. One victim’s baby was delivered prematurely in an emergency operation, but died on Wednesday afternoon.

Agencies and Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.

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