Hamas: Iraqis should use suicide bombers

March 20, 2003 at 8:24 PM
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GAZA, March 20 (UPI) -- Leaders of Palestinian Hamas militants Thursday urged Iraqis to unleash hundreds of suicide bombers onto U.S. and British troops to stem the invasion of their country.

Abdel Aziz Ranteesi, a Hamas spokesman, told United Press International in Gaza that what is happening in Iraq is not a war: "It is an aggression on an Arab and Islamic country, and the Iraqi people should know how to confront this aggression."

He continued, "Therefore, I believe that the Iraqi people should prepare an army of suicide bombers to hit the Americans everywhere on their lands until they would be able to defend their country and defeat the aggression."

Members of Hamas -- the Arabic word for "courage" as well as an acronym for Islamic resistance movement -- have carried out dozens of suicide bomb attacks in buses, markets and malls in Israel. Hundreds have died and thousands wounded as a result of the blasts.

The Hamas spokesman described the U.S.-led war on Iraq as the new crusader campaign on Iraq, and one "not only against an Arab country (but) against Islam itself."

He also criticized the leaders of Arab countries, saying, "They were not able to protect the Muslims or defend their countries. Thus I believe it is time for the nations to move to resist America and hit it by all means until it stops its aggression."

The comments came on the same day as hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in several parts of the Gaza Strip in support of Iraq and its people, waving Palestinians Iraqi flags and holding posters of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

The Palestinian Authority explained in an official statement published by the Palestinian news agency Wafa Thursday that Palestinians "are following the war against Iraq and the Iraqi people with anxiety," and fear Israel could take advantage of the war to "carry out widespread military operations against the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza."

The Palestinian Authority called up the U.N. Security Council to work for the immediate end the military operations and the return of international weapons inspectors.

"The international community is responsible for achieving peace and security in our region as well as ending the Israeli military occupation of the Arab and Palestinian territories," said the statement.

Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo added to reporters in the West Bank town of Ramallah that the Palestinians are calling for the international community to intervene because they believe the U.S.-led war "will lead to results that would badly affect the whole region."

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