Hamas leader in Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh said in a televised speech delivered on Monday that his movement would "cooperate with any initiative aimed at ending the Israeli aggression and bring about the enemy's withdrawal and the reopening of the crossings." Haniyeh added that simultaneous to the ceasefire talks the Palestinians would continue to fight the occupying forces.
"We are certain that eventually we will achieve victory and crush the aggression," he said. "The people who have lost their loved ones or whose homes have been destroyed are displaying unprecedented resilience, and the population is continually encouraging us despite the crazy and indiscriminant bombings."
According to him, at least half of the Palestinian casualties are women and children. He noted that "victory comes to those who believe and those who carry out Allah's commands."
During the speech Haniyeh said "we trust Allah and know that he is by our side despite what people are trying to tell you to affect your spirits; I say that victory is close."
The Hamas leader offered his blessings to the Palestinian fighters, saying "we embrace you and kiss your head and hands and the ground you walk on. You are the protectors of this nation's dignity and land. You are the makers of victory.
"After 17 days of fighting, I can say with certainty that Gaza and faith will prevail," he said. "The Palestinian people will triumph with Allah's help."
Haniyeh concluded his speech with a prayer: "Allah, grant us victory over the infidels."
Earlier, Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip declared victory to be "closer than ever" on Monday. In a statement cited by Reuters, the Hamas cabinet said it continued to function as a government and condemned Israel for its "reoccupation" of Gaza, saying the invading forces would soon be repelled. "We confirm to our people that victory is closer than ever," the statement read.
"We confirm out intention to continue to work to stop the terrorists' war against our people, end the siege completely and bring about a reopening of the crossings."