Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has marked the 31st anniversary of the first Intifada with pledges to continue the “armed struggle” and rebuked Arab leaders for seeking to normalize ties with Israel.
“Armed struggle is a strategic option to safeguard the Palestinian cause and restore Palestinian national rights,” Hamas said in a statement issued on Saturday.
The first Intifada broke out in 1987 after four young Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint in Gaza as well as the shooting death of a 17-year-old boy during an unarmed protest.
Intifada is an Arabic word that literally translates to “shaking off.” It has been used to refer to legitimate means of resistance against oppression across the Middle East for decades. In the Arab-Israeli conflict, it means a concerted Palestinian effort to shake off Israeli occupation and gain independence.
In its statement on Saturday, Hamas said “resistance is a legitimate right guaranteed by international laws and conventions.”
It said 31 years after the eruption of the uprising, which is also known as the stone Intifada, Palestinians are still in need of unity, partnership, and the reconstruction of their national project.
The second Intifada began in 2000 and was known as the al-Aqsa Intifada. It was sparked by former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to the al-Aqsa Mosque complex.
A US draft resolution to condemn the Hamas resistance movement at the UN failed to gain a majority vote.
The anniversary comes amid worldwide outrage over the US relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem al-Quds from Tel Aviv and the recognition of the city as the so-called capital of Israel.
Israel annexed East al-Quds in the 1967 Six Day war in a move never internationally recognized. The occupying regime claims the entire city as its capital. Palestinians also want it as the capital of their future state.
Control of the highly sensitive city remains one of the major stumbling blocks in any Israeli-Palestinian deal.
On Saturday, Hamas seized the occasion to repeat its rejection of US President Donald Trump’s plan for “peace” in the Middle East, billed as the “deal of the century”.
The plan, the movement said, is aimed at “liquidating the Palestinian cause and undermining the rights of the Palestinians.”
Hamas also lashed out at Arab countries for their attempts to normalize relations with Israel, saying such efforts “are doomed to failure.”
“Our people will stand against those who are promoting normalization regardless of the sacrifices,” it said.
Saudi Arabia is at the heart of the new push to forge normal relations with Israel, with reports of exchange of visits by Arab and Israeli ministers and politicians becoming a regular feature.
In the occupied West Bank, the ruling Fatah faction of Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas also vowed to “continue the struggle to end all forms of Israeli occupation,” even though it did not specify its nature.
The Palestinians, Fatah said, will pursue their struggle with “greater determination until the right of return for refugees is achieved, as well as the right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East al-Quds as its capital.”
Fatah also voiced full support for Abbas in his rejection of the “deal of the century” and Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital” and move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.