Ahead of 22nd anniversary celebrations, Palestinian organization admits armed battle against Israel weakened in past few years, but states 'our ability has not been harmed for the long run.' Surprise promised during Gaza rally Monday
Ali Waked Published: 12.13.09, 17:27 / Israel News
Sources in Hamas' military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said Sunday that the organization was working to rebuild its armed force in the West Bank in a bid to resume the struggle against Israel from there.
Speaking ahead of Hamas' 22nd anniversary celebrations, which take place Monday, a spokesman for the military wing said that "no one will manage to destroy our resistance in the West Bank, and even if our ability there has been hurt – it has not been harmed for the long run."
In recent years, following the Israel Defense Forces' activity in the West Bank and on the backdrop of internal struggles with the Fatah movement, which is still widely popular in the area, Hamas' power in the West Bank has weakened.
At the same time, the organization gained control of the Gaza Strip, which has since become its main stronghold and base for armed activities against Israel.
In the past few weeks, as part of the Palestinian Authority's attempts to stop Hamas from growing stronger in the West Bank, where the PA is still in charge of business, its security forces have arrested hundreds of the organization's activists.
The detainees are suspected of being connected to Hamas' fund raising mechanism or elements trying to resume the military wing's activity in the area.
A Palestinian security source estimated in a conversation with Ynet that the remarks made by the military wing's spokesman had propaganda purposes, and that "an organization preventing the firing of rockets from the Strip as part of a lull agreement with Israel is definitely not interested in resuming attacks from the West Bank."
The Hamas spokesman, Abu Ubaida, added that the Brigades' men will be on guard ahead of the main rally marking the organization's anniversary, which will take place in Gaza on Monday, and that the organization has promised to "present a surprise" during the event.
"The members of our military wing will be on high alert tomorrow," he stated. "Our fighters will supervise the Strip's borders during the main rally. We will not abandon the borders during the rally so that the enemy will not be able to take advantage of this."
Hamas did not note the nature of the promised "surprise", and sources in the movement refused to say whether it was related to a development in a prisoner exchange deal with Israel.
Hamas' interior minister, Fathi Hamad, has said in the past that the organization seeks to celebrate its anniversary with a prisoner release festival.
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