Islamists Call for Holy War after Israeli 'Massacre'
Islamist groups around the Middle East voiced outrage Saturday at the Israeli army's killing of Palestinian demonstrators and called for holy war against Israel.
The spiritual leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas said the Palestinians' only choice was launching a new intifada, or mass uprising, as they did in the late 1980s.
"We will pursue our path: victory or martyrdom," Sheikh Ahmed Yassin said on a visit to Gaza City.
"Regaining our rights and restoring peace will only be achieved through resistance and force," said Yassin, whose group has claimed responsibility for numerous anti-Israeli attacks since the 1993 Oslo accords between Israel and the Palestinians.
The head of the militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, meanwhile, said it would be "pointless to look for a peaceful solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in light of the violence, which cost 15 Palestinian lives Saturday and seven the day before.
The clashes were provoked by a controversial visit to Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound -- the third holiest site in Islam -- by Israel's right-wing opposition leader Ariel Sharon on Thursday, and escalated over the past three days.
"The Zionist regime's crimes yesterday and today in all of occupied Palestine prove once more that peaceful steps bear no fruit," Ramadan Abdullah Shallah said Saturday on Radio Tehran, speaking from an unnamed location.
"We are calling for the pursuit of jihad (holy war) and the intifada in Palestine," he said.
Also in Iran, Khaled Meshaal, head of Hamas' political bureau, called the situation "very grave."
"It means all the children of Islam must unite to save Al-Qods (the Arabic name for Jerusalem) and Al-Aqsa," he told journalists upon arriving in Tehran.
In Lebanon, Hizbollah, the Shiite Muslim group that spearheaded a guerrilla war against Israel's 22-year occupation, called for "an open war" against Israel.
"We are calling on our kin in Palestine to enter open war with Israel by setting off bombs, launching ambushes, firing bullets, throwing grenades and organizing suicide attacks," said Sheikh Nabil Qauq, the Hizbollah leader in south Lebanon.
He said the current "intifada" in Jerusalem heralded "the step-by-step defeat of Israel."
At the Ein el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near the Lebanese port of Sidon, 3,000 Islamists ended prayers with a call to action.
An official with one of the groups, Jamaa Islamiya, Sheikh Jamal Khattab issued a call "to take up arms to liberate Jerusalem" and called on Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority "to stop negotiating with the Jewish people, who do not want peace."
In Egypt, the banned Islamist movement the Muslim Brotherhood denounced the "odious massacre" of Palestinians at the Jerusalem mosque compound Friday and called on the Palestinian Authority to let its people "exercise their true choice, which is holy war."
The Brotherhood called on the Arab world to act "to protect Islam's third holiest site" and said an Arab summit was urgently needed "to counter Zionist plans seeking to get their hands on Palestine, Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque." - NICOSIA (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)