©2007 Stephen J. Shaner

Militants Join "Celebration of Victory"

housands of Palestinians, including hundreds of armed militants from the resistance wings of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, took to the streets of the Jenin refugee camp demonstrating in support of the Israeli pullout from Jewish settlements in Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank.

As gunmen fired automatic weapons into the air, the assembled crowd showed their solidarity by waving green Hamas flags and chanting patriotic slogans in what Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zahri called “a celebration of victory.”

Militant leaders addressing the crowd pledged continued resistance to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank as a wooden model of an Israeli tank was symbolically destroyed and an inflatable replica of Jerusalem’s sacred Dome of the Rock was lifted onto the makeshift stage.

Hamas and other militant groups consider the withdrawals to be the result of continued armed resistance against Israeli soldiers and settlers. These claims underscore Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ increasing difficulties in trying to assert control over the various militant groups.

Abbas, who is under strong international pressure to disarm militants, faces a bitter power struggle with Hamas in the upcoming Palestinian elections. Hamas has vowed not to disarm and declared violent action against Israel will continue.

               Play a brief audio clip from the rally