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Hamas Leader Promises Uprising to End Israeli Occupation

  • Zlatica Hoke

There is no peace in sight between Israelis and Palestinians as violence in the region escalates. Gaza's Hamas leader on Thursday vowed that Palestinians will continue their uprising until they achieve their objectives. The situation in the Middle East is further complicated by the hostility between ultra-religious Jewish settlers and the secular Israeli state.

Speaking to supporters in Gaza, top Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the Palestinians will fight "until the land is freed."

"We carry on with the uprising and keep building our strength in a way that will surprise the world. We don't do this to defend Gaza; we do it to liberate Jerusalem and the whole of Palestine," said Haniyeh.

On New Year's day, Palestinians allegedly fired several rockets into southern Israeli, and the country's military responded with air strikes. Israel said it arrested six Hamas members on suspicion that they planned to kidnap and murder an Israeli citizen. Its security forces killed three Palestinians near Israeli settlements south of Bethlehem on Thursday, the day Orthodox Christians were celebrating Christmas in the city believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. Another Palestinian was killed near the city of Hebron when he tried to stab an Israeli soldier. The frequent stabbing attacks have prompted Israel to try to produce special protective vests.

“I say it clearly, the uprising will continue until the land is returned to us. We will keep pumping our blood and our souls into the Intifada (Palestinian uprising),” said Haniyeh.

In addition to fighting Palestinians, the state of Israel has to deal with ultra-orthodox Jews. On Sunday, a 21-year-old Israeli youth was indicted in the July 2015 attack on a house in Duma in the West Bank that killed a Palestinian couple and their baby. The alleged attacker was a member of the group called the Hilltop Youth, a new generation of ultra-religious settlers.

"If we wouldn't be here, the Arabs would be here and whatever the Arabs get now it will be very hard to take back. And it's not even a war, it's a very silent war," said Refael Morris, a member of the Hilltop Youth.

Israeli security forces say the group is small and has no support from the government or the broad public.

"They live in unlawful settlements anywhere that they want, and if we are talking about relationships with the Palestinians, it is violent and sometimes murderous," said Tomer Perisco of the Shalom Hartman Institute.

Similarly, the Palestinian authorities say they have difficulty restraining their young people who see no hope for the future except in fighting.