September 15, 2009 Special Dispatch No. 2499

Hamas 'Victory Festival' in Damascus

September 15, 2009
Syria, Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 2499

In March 2009, Hamas held a festival at the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, Syria to mark "the victory of the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades," its military wing, in the "Al-Furqan War," [1] i.e., the 2008-9 war with Israel in Gaza. The festival included a photo exhibit and the screening of films showing the Al-Qassam Brigades at their training camps; distribution of videos about the Brigades' operations during the war; and an evening poetry program featuring poets and children's choirs from across the Arab world. There were also speeches by military and political activists from the resistance movements, who praised the resistance and martyrdom operations while condemning the Palestinian Authority and various Arab countries.

Following are excerpts from statements made at the festival, as published in the Al-Qassam Brigades newsletter in April 2009.

Al-Qassam Brigades: We Will Continue Jihad as Long as We Live

The "surprise of the festival," as the newsletter described it, was a video address by Al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu 'Obaida, in which he declared, "We say to the Zionists and to all those who conspired with them that we have triumphed and thwarted their despicable goals… We launched our resistance and jihad not in order to open a [border] crossing or beg for a piece of bread… [but in order to] liberate the land, purge the holy places, and restore the refugees [to their homes]. Therefore, we will continue the jihad as long as we live. [Our slogan is] victory or martyrdom…"

Addressing the Palestinian diaspora, Abu 'Obaida said, "This is your struggle as much as it is ours… a struggle to remain in this land…"

Popular Resistance Committees Activist: Our Missiles Were Fueled By Martyrs' Blood

One of the speakers at the festival was Abu 'Abir, spokesman of the Salah Al-Din Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees. He said: "…True, thousands of Palestinians, [including Hamas] government employees, were martyred [in the war]. But what the enemy did not know is that their blood [fueled] the missiles we fired at the Zionist settlements and military bases throughout the war…

"The Zionist enemy wanted to eliminate the [Hamas] government, which draws its legitimacy from the resistance. [It wanted] to break [this government] and force it to submit, because it knows it represents the resistance. But what the enemy did not know is that the resistance has never given up and will never give up this government."

Former Egyptian Army Officer: The Zionists Can No Longer Withstand the Hardships of Battle

Safwat Al-Zayyat, military expert and formerly a high-ranking officer in the Egyptian army, spoke of Israel's "strategic defeat" in the Gaza war and its implications for Israel's future. He stated: "The present Zionist generation is a generation that likes comfort and ease. It lacks the toughness of the first generation of the kibbutzim and the settlements. It cannot withstand [the hardships] of battle.

"With the Palestinians, the situation is completely different. In the past, during killings and massacres, the Palestinians would pack their belongings and leave their villages. The present generation, [on the other hand], clings to the land and prefers to die on the soil of the homeland rather than leave it in the hands of the occupying enemy."

Al-Zayyat added that Hamas' constant rocket attacks on Israel throughout the war were proof of its victory.

Muhammad Nazzal: PA, Some Arab Leaders Collaborating with Israel

Hamas Executive Bureau member Muhammad Nazzal said: "I want to expose a fact that may evoke puzzlement, condemnation, and resentment. Senior Palestinian and Arab leaders once asked the 'Israeli' officials not to free Fatah fighter Marwan Barghouti [from prison in Israel] because this would weaken [PA President] Mahmoud 'Abbas. On another occasion, [they asked that he be kept imprisoned] because his liberation would strengthen Hamas politically and increase its popularity…"

Addressing the Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israel, Nazzal declared: "We promise you that we will never forget you as others have done, and never deceive you as others have done. Our abduction of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit three years ago was part of our efforts to free you…"

Abu 'Abir said, in a similar vein: "The hypocrites [i.e. the PA] stood on the borders of the homeland and prepared themselves, thinking that they could reenter [Gaza riding] on the Zionist tanks. But Allah be praised, their hopes were dashed. We destroyed the tanks and delivered the pieces to the [Zionists'] doorstep."


[1] Al-Furqan, meaning "salvation," is one of the names of the Koran, and is also the name given by Hamas to the Gaza war.

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