During his first public speech since the start of the latest escalation of rocket attacks from Gaza and Israeli retaliation, Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh on Tuesday declared “victory” over the Jewish state.
The Hamas head said that Israel’s cancelation of its traditional Jerusalem Day flag march, and the delay of a court ruling over home ownership in eastern Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, were expressions of this victory, according to Israel’s Channel 12.
“Jerusalem is the central axis of struggle, and we will never abandon it,” he said. “We won the battle for Jerusalem; this is the first time that we managed to defeat the flag marches.”
“[Hamas military wing commander] Muhammad Deif said the Sheikh Jarrah incidents will cost Israel dearly, and this happened,” Haniyeh declared.
The Hamas chief also listed “three fronts”: Jerusalem, Gaza and “the front inside Palestine,” referring to Arab-Israeli rioting inside the country.
“I congratulate the ’48 Arabs who live in the heart of the whale … they are the ones protecting and forming the fence that Jerusalem needs. We saw what happened in Lod, the Triangle and the Galilee. They are Al-Aqsa’s defenders,” he said.
In March, Haniyeh, who is based in Qatar, was re-elected head of the overall Hamas political bureau. Haniyeh left Gaza in 2019. In 2020, Egypt reportedly barred him from returning to the Strip after he visited Iran to attend the funeral of assassinated Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani.