Hamas is today marking its 25th anniversary, with the Iran-backed terror group holding rallies throughout the Gaza Strip. Framed by props of advanced weapons in the background, speakers are hailing the group's terror activities and emphasizing its genocidal commitment to the eradication of Israel. The events come months after Hamas launched a round of escalatory rocket fire into Israel, and less than a month after Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense compelled it to cease that rocket fire. Hamas spokesman Ashraf Zayed unpacked the anticipated celebrations, which are being promoted on Hamas's social media channels with a new logo highlighting the destruction of the entirety of the Jewish state of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian state.
The political implications and momentum generated by the events will be tangled. Hamas's declarations of intransigence may generate popularity that provides the group with leverage to coerce other Palestinian groups into reconciliation. Senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar has already called on Hamas's rival Fatah to join forces and "carry the gun." Hamas may also use the opportunity to try to consolidate its power over smaller groups, and yesterday marked the arrival of Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal, who entered the Gaza Strip for the first time in 45 years.
Alternatively, Hamas's continued emphasis on its genocidal commitment to destroy Israel is likely to complicate the efforts in some Western capitals, and the exhortations of some Western foreign policy analysts, to engage the Palestinian group and grant it a measure of diplomatic legitimacy. Hamas's military also continues to face significant obstacles. Operation Pillar of Defense substantially degraded the group's advanced weaponry and its command and control infrastructure. Rebuilding will take time, and this weekend's boasts will be juxtaposed against visible losses suffered by the group.
Below are selections from a TIP photo gallery documenting the militarism surrounding Hamas's 25th anniversary activities, which celebrate terrorist rocket fire against Israeli civilians and extend into encouraging children to battle Israel. See the full gallery: TIP's Collection of Photos on Hamas's 25th Anniversary Celebration
A Hamas student art exhibit celebrates 'resistance'