As Gaza militants renew violent rocket attacks on Israeli cities, a Hamas national security minister told a delegation of graduating police officers in the Gaza Strip that they should help liberate Israeli cities, such as Jerusalem, from Jewish control, according to a recently released translation of his remarks.
"None of you should give up playing with all the tools of force and equipment, which will bring us closer to our aspirations: Jerusalem, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Haifa, Akko, and Jaffa," Hamas Minister Fathi Hammad declared during a Gaza police academy commencement ceremony on June 13, about a week before militants began firing hundreds of rockets into Southern Israel.
"The officers of the class graduating today will become the police chief of Jaffa, the police chief of Haifa, the police chief of Akko, the police chief of Lod, the police chief of Ramle, and of all other places," said Hammad, an interior and national security minister said, according to a translation of his remarks by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
"Therefore, from this place, we declare to all those who usurped our lands that they must prepare to leave, because we have prepared for jihad," said the Hamas official, which remains officially committed to the destruction of Israel. "You are going to leave, while we are summoned to battle. We are the owners of this land."
Hammad’s remarks, which are routinely echoed by Hamas officials, provide context for the currently stalled peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.
The formulation of a stable new governing coalition in Israel led American leaders and some liberal Jewish groups to demand that Israel return to the bargaining table. A major demand from the Israelis is that the Palestinian government be able to allay security concerns when its own police forces assume solitary control of the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
Hammad’s comments, however, indicate that these security forces are being trained to view Israel as a perpetual enemy that must be annihilated.