Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Rwandan singer amongst terror plot suspects

Read more

DEBATE

What's Putin's Plan? Kiev Accuses Russia of Terrorism

Read more

FOCUS

Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

Read more

WEB NEWS

Chile: Online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

ENCORE!

Art, sex, money, memory and manga

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Spat over Iran's UN ambassador hampers thawing relations with US

Read more

FOCUS

China trade deal: Is Taiwan's identity under threat?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Call it a caretaker government'

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria's Battles

Read more

  • Frantic search for survivors of sunken South Korea ferry

    Read more

  • Crunch talks on Ukraine in Geneva

    Read more

  • Algeria heads to the polls: ‘This election has nothing to do with us’

    Read more

  • Man executed in Texas for 2002 triple murder

    Read more

  • Scandal-hit French doctor Jacques Servier dies at 92

    Read more

  • Belgian head of wildlife reserve shot in DR Congo

    Read more

  • Stagehand of God? Maradona's legendary goal inspires a play

    Read more

  • US rolls out red carpet for French critic of capitalism

    Read more

  • N. Korea not amused by London hair salon's Kim Jong-un ad

    Read more

  • Real Madrid beat old foes Barcelona to lift Copa del Rey

    Read more

  • France's new PM targets welfare in drive to cut spending

    Read more

  • Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

    Read more

  • Brazil club Mineiro cancel Anelka signing after no-show

    Read more

  • Syria 'torture' photos silence UN Security Council members

    Read more

  • Paris laboratory loses deadly SARS virus samples

    Read more

  • More than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped in northeast Nigeria

    Read more

  • New York police disband unit targeting Muslims

    Read more

  • 'Miracle girl' healthy after seven-organ transplant in Paris

    Read more

  • Paris police memo calling for Roma eviction ‘rectified’

    Read more

  • Burgundy digs into France's bureaucratic 'mille-feuille'

    Read more

  • French court drops ‘hate speech’ case against Bob Dylan

    Read more

  • Algeria rights crackdown slammed ahead of election

    Read more

  • Iraq closes notorious Abu Ghraib jail over security fears

    Read more

  • In ‘Tom at the Farm’, Xavier Dolan blends Hitchcock and homoeroticism

    Read more

Middle east

Hamas chief Meshaal vows never to recognise Israel

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-12-08

Exiled Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal told a crowd of more than 100,000 Palestinians at a mass rally in Gaza on Saturday that there would be no territorial concessions to Israel or recognition of the Jewish state.

Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, making his first ever visit to the Gaza Strip, vowed on Saturday never to recognise Israel and said his Islamist group would never abandon its claim to all Israeli territory.

“Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concession on an inch of the land,” he told a sea of supporters at an open-air rally, the highlight of his three-day stay in Gaza.

“We will never recognise the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel, no matter how long it will take.”



In an uncompromising speech, Meshaal also vowed to free Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, indicating Islamist militants would try to kidnap Israeli soldiers to use as a bargaining chip.

Israel last year released 1,027 Palestinians from its jails in return for the liberation of Gilad Shalit, a conscript soldier who was seized by Palestinian guerrillas in 2006 and hidden for more than five years in Gaza.

'Prisoners will be freed'

Thousands of Palestinian detainees remain in Israel. The Jewish state says many of them are terrorists. Hamas calls them freedom fighters.

“We will not rest until we liberate the prisoners. The way we freed some of the prisoners in the past is the way we will use to free the remaining prisoners,” Meshaal said to cheers from the huge crowd that had flocked to see him.

Meshaal, who was born in the West Bank but lived most of his life in exile, arrived on Friday for his first visit to Palestinian territory since 1975, saying he hoped he would one day die a "martyr" in the Palestinian land.

After his seven-vehicle convoy swept across the border from Egypt, Meshaal got out and kissed Palestinian soil before embracing Gaza's Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, a member of Hamas.

Green Hamas flags and the red, white, green and black of the Palestinian flag were everywhere to mark the unprecedented visit.

Reporting from the Gaza rally, FRANCE 24 correspondent Gallagher Fenwick said, “This is a very important political moment for Meshaal. He is here to reassert that he’s the boss of the Islamist party that rules the Gaza strip and not the Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
“The rivalry between the two men can really be felt throughout this trip.”

Meshaal was accompanied by his deputy Mussa Abu Marzuk and other top officials on a trip which came just two weeks after the end of a deadly confrontation with Israel, which began on November 14 with an Israeli air strike that killed Hamas military commander Ahmed Jaabari.

Shortly after his arrival, Meshaal was taken to see the charred remains of Jaabari's car, which had been transported to Rafah especially for the visit.

"I hope God will make me a martyr on the land of Palestine in Gaza," he said.

Homecoming is ‘third birth’

Security was tight across the territory. Masked militants from Hamas’ military wing the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades out in force, wearing fatigues and carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles, as they patrolled the roads along which Meshaal's convoy was to travel.

"This is the first time that I am coming to Palestine in 37 years," said Meshaal. "This is my third birth," he told reporters at a brief press conference, saying his second was after he escaped an Israeli attempt to kill him in Jordan in 1997.

Izzat al-Rishq, another senior member of the Islamist movement's exiled politbureau, said it was a moving experience to finally be in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

"This is the greatest feeling I've ever had. It is an unforgettable historic moment," he told news agency AFP. "Our wish to kiss the soil of Palestine has come true."

Mahmud al-Zahar, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, said the visit was replete with symbolism.

"No matter how long a Palestinian is away from his homeland, he will always return after a victory," Zahar told AFP.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)
 

Date created : 2012-12-08

  • UN - PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

    UN recognises Palestine as non-member observer state

    Read more

  • PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

    Hamas backs Abbas bid to upgrade Palestinian UN status

    Read more

  • ISRAEL- PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

    Gaza begins rebuilding as ceasefire holds

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)