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Hamas vows to pursue intifada 'until land is free'

Ismail Haniyeh at the celebration for Yehya Ayyash in Khan Younis, South Gaza [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 January, 2016

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Ismail Haniyeh vows to lead a popular uprising as Israel arrests six alleged members of a "Hamas cell" in Jerusalem.
Ismail Haniyeh vowed on Thursday that his movement would pursue its intifada against Israeli occupation "until the land is freed".

Hamas' Gaza chief said that the Qassam Brigades, the movement's armed wing, had the power to attack "behind the lines of the enemy by land, sea and air" and would "surprise the world with its strength in future confrontations".

The comments were made during a commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the death of Yehya Ayyash, a Hamas operative who was assassinated by Israel.

Haniyeh described Hamas in Gaza as "a strategic asset for our people in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and the people in the 40 regions, refugee camps and diaspora".

Haniyeh was speaking after phoning the family of Ahmed Younis, a Palestinian teenager killed last week, and said the "sacrifices of the Palestinians and their heroic resistance in the face of Israel will eventually come to fruition".

Despite the movement's fiery rhetoric, Hamas have come under increased criticism within Gaza as the strip continues to suffer under the blockade.

Meanwhile on Thursday, Israeli security officials said that six alleged members of Hamas arrested in Jerusalem in December had been planning to kidnap and murder an Israeli citizen.

Israeli media reported that the "cell" comprised three alleged militants from east Jerusalem and three others from the West Bank city of Hebron.

"The members of the terror cell plotted to kidnap and murder an Israeli citizen... [and] planned to use this kidnapping to negotiate the release of Palestinian prisoners," the army said.

It named the group's leader as Hebron resident Maher Kawasme, 36, from Hebron, and identified two other suspects as 20-year-old Ziad Abu Hadwan and 22-year-old Amar Rajbi Hadwan, both from Jerusalem.

Israeli authorities accused the Hadwan brothers of attempting to solicit donations at al-Aqsa mosque to carry out their activities, as they were seemingly unable to receive funding from Hamas for reasons that remain unclear. 

The recent escalation in the West Bank has claimed the lives of at least 148 Palestinians.  

Despite the recent Israeli arrests and Hamas' vocal support for continued armed resistance, analysts have commented that attacks against the Israeli military are being carried out by individual Palestinian youths with little or no attachment to Palestinian political parties or militant groups. 

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