Big rally by Islamic Jihad in Gaza, joined by Hamas
A Palestinian girl waves Islamic Jihad flags during a rally in Gaza
City October 29, 2010. Thousands of Palestinians attend a rally marking
the 23rd anniversary of the Islamic Jihad movement foundation.
Credit: Reuters/Mohammed Salem
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
GAZA | Fri Oct 29, 2010 10:45am EDT
GAZA (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of supporters of the militant
Islamic Jihad movement rallied in the streets of Gaza on Friday,
chanting "Death to America" and "Death to Israel."
Young men and boys wearing white T-shirts with a slogan in the shape of
a rifle bore portraits of militants killed in combat, under the black
flags of Islamic Jihad.
Ramadan Shallah, the group's exiled chief in Damascus, sent a recorded
message marking the anniversary of the assassination of the group's
leader Fathi Shiqaqi in Malta in 1995, by presumed Israeli secret
"Israel will not bring peace to the region, it will only bring war and
destruction and therefore, the slogan of all should be that Israel must
be wiped out of existence," said Shallah, who is on a United States
Senior leaders of the ruling Islamist group, Hamas, joined the open-air
gathering, the largest for years in honor of Islamic Jihad with up to
100,000 attending according to its organizers.
Hamas allowed the group to use city terrain it usually reserves
exclusively for its own rallies, and Hamas forces provided security for
the parade by its smaller rival.
"REFERENDUM AGAINST PEACE TALKS"
Islamic Jihad carried out a series of stabbing attacks in the 1980s
against Israeli citizens who used to visit the Gaza Strip to purchase
cheap goods and later turned to suicide bombings inside the Jewish
Its militants continue to harass southern Israel with sporadic rocket
and mortar fire from inside Gaza, frequently paying with their lives in
swift retaliatory strikes by the Israeli air force.
Islamic Jihad officials said Friday's turnout was a "referendum by the
Palestinian people rejecting peace-making with Israel."
Negotiations between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have faltered over the
latter's refusal to freeze settlement building in the West Bank,
including in Jerusalem.
"The choice of negotiation has reached deadlock, and we are wondering
why is there such an insistence by the Palestinian Authority on
negotiation with the enemy," said Shallah.
He urged an end to peace talks and fresh efforts to heal the rift
between Abbas's Fatah movement and the Islamist militants.
Raising hopes that the three-year-old split may be coming to an end,
Hamas leader Khalil Al-Hayya said it was time for unity in the face of
"There is only the choice of Jihad and nothing else ... There is no
more room to make bets, on the Americans or anyone else," said Hayya.
President Abbas, however, rules out any return to violence against
Israelis in pursuit of Palestinian statehood. He has said he will
pursue diplomatic alternatives should the peace talks with Netanyahu
(Editing by Douglas Hamilton and Myra MacDonald)