Jerusalem, Dec. 14 – The Iran-backed Hamas terrorist organization celebrated its 24th anniversary Wednesday by boasting that its military wing has killed 1,365 Israelis, wounded almost 6,500 and fired over 11,000 rockets at Israeli towns and cities.
Tens of thousands of Hamas followers rallied in Gaza at a central stage, built to resemble a ship and meant to symbolize Hamas’ dream of destroying Israel and “retaking all of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean,” the Washington Post reported.
The Hamas controlled Gaza Strip would be included in the stalled Palestinian attempt to declare statehood at the United Nations without a negotiated peace treaty with Israel. President Obama has strongly opposed the Palestinian unilateral declaration of statehood, urging Palestinian leaders to return to the negotiating table.
Hamas leaders repeated their commitment to armed attacks and their refusal to join peace talks, saying “the gamble on the negotiations with Israel has failed,” Israel’s Yediot Aharonoth newspaper reported.
Hamas receives major funding from Iran, and seized power in the Gaza Strip in a bloody 2007 coup that ousted the Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The organization was listed as a terrorist group by the United States in 1995, and many major Western democracies adopted the same policy.
Hamas policies reject any notion of a peace treaty with Israel, and mirror Iranian anti-American sentiments by condemning the United States and its role in helping to broker Middle East peace.
Despite repeated attempts at reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, Hamas’ Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh said the talks were “at a standstill.” One of Hamas’ founders, Mahmoud Zahar, said Tuesday that the overdue and much anticipated Palestinian elections scheduled for May would probably not be held on time, owing to the differences between the two sides.