Jerusalem, Jan.20 (ANI): A Hamas leader has declared victory over Israel, and warned that the Islamic militant group will rearm against Israel should a situation emerge to merit such a step.
Ismail Haniya, the deposed Palestinian prime minister and a political leader in Gaza, said the “armed resistance” had triumphed by surviving the Israeli operation.
“Do whatever you want. Manufacturing the holy weapons is our mission and we know how to acquire weapons,” The Telegraph quoted Abu Obeida, a spokesman for the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, as saying.
Meanwhile, an Israeli official has announced that the government would ensure all combat forces were withdrawn from Gaza by the time President-Elect Barack Obama is sworn-in as the 44th US President in Washington on Tuesday.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told the House of Commons that there were two post-conflict challenges facing Gaza: stopping the flow arms to Hamas and delivering reconstruction aid.
Israel has promised it would not stand in the way of substantial rebuilding in the devastated enclave – as long as Hamas does not benefit from the shipments of aid and cash infusions.
Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU external affairs commissioner, called on Hamas and factions controlled by President Mahmoud Abbas to unite, so that aid could be could be administered by civil servants from the Palestinian Authority.
A total of 40,000 tons of food and medicines had been transported into Gaza since the offensive began, a spokesman for the Israeli humanitarian effort said.
The overall death toll of Operation Cast Lead stood above 1,300, including more than 400 children. Another 5,300 were wounded. Israel reported a death toll of 13.
Hamas officials said 5,000 homes, 16 government buildings and 20 mosques were destroyed and 20,000 houses damaged in the three-week war. (ANI)