For the first time since the last round of fighting, Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, delivered an impressive hour-long speech last night. Before I present the main points of Sinwar’s speech to you, I will say the following:
Sinwar’s release from prison as part of the Shalit deal has changed the Israeli-Palestinian arena from end to end, and not for the better. Sinwar is a visionary leader with determination and proven abilities. He is able to read Israel like an open book and has an excellent understanding of the geopolitical situation, leading the Gazans and Palestinians to significant achievements. He is the most prominent and powerful Gazan leader currently in the Palestinian arena. If Israel had the chance, it should have taken the initiative and targeted Sinwar during Operation “Guardians of the Walls” … “whatever the price may be”, as the Palestinians like to say.
As always, his speech is full of symbolism:
1. On Sinwar’s podium was written in Arabic: “The sword of Jerusalem will not return to its case”. “The Sword of Jerusalem” is the name given by Hamas to the last round of fighting in Gaza (“Guardians of the Walls”).
Throughout the speech, Sinwar emphasized that “the sword of Jerusalem” came out of its case last Ramadan, and although Ramadan has ended, the sword will not return to its case until the liberation of Jerusalem.
2. Throughout the entire speech, a single image (attached) was projected behind Sinwar, showing Israeli policemen inside Al-Aqsa Mosque with their shoes on. At one point during his speech, he turned to the picture, addressed the “occupation leaders”, and threatened: whoever allows this to repeat itself, will allow (such actions – Abu Ali) in thousands of Jewish synagogues around the world.
3. Sinwar continues to play with the “1111” gimmick, confirming officially for the first time that this number signifies the number of rockets that will be launched in the first barrage of the next military confrontation with Israel. He reiterates that they chose this number because it is the day of Yasser Arafat’s death (Arafat died on 11/11/04). In doing so, Sinwar not only plays on the broad Palestinian consensus that Arafat is the “father of the Palestinian nation”, but he is also appropriating Arafat. Sinwar positions Hamas as the organization continuing in Arafat’s footsteps, even though Arafat was a founding member of Hamas’ main rivaling political group – Fatah. All of this comes at the expense of Abu Mazen and the PA.
Aside from these main points, there were also the following:
1. Sinwar addresses Mansour Abbas, chairman of the Arab-Israeli Ra’am party: We will not forgive you and your party for handing a “safety net” to the same government that barges into al-Aqsa. You must withdraw your membership in the coalition government tonight!
Sinwar added that Hamas is generally against the participation of Arab-Israelis in the Israeli elections, but that it doesn’t object to Arab-Israelis participating in Israeli politics to achieve economic or social goals. Still, Sinwar insists that they cannot come to terms with the current situation in which Abbas gives the Israeli government his support, effectively enabling the current situation in Al-Aqsa.
2. Sinwar, like Nasrallah, praises the recent wave of terrorist attacks in Israel. He addresses the young people of the West Bank, urging them not to wait for anyone and to carry out such attacks. In his remarks, he referred to the dramatic psychological effect and extensive media coverage that the terrorist attack in Tel Aviv received, being broadcasted live to the whole world. Sinwar used this example to encourage the young people in the West Bank to carry out similar attacks, saying that one attack with a gun managed to put “the entire Zionist entity and its security apparatus” on high alert for hours. Sinwar warns the potential assailants from exposing their intentions on social media for fear of being noticed by Israeli intelligence.
3. Sinwar refers to the popular Israeli television program “Uvda” (“Fact”), which covered “Operation Lightning Strike” (The IDF’s attack on Hamas’ underground network of tunnels), using it to show how much Israel failed in Operation “Guardians of the Walls”.
4. Sinwar didn’t forget to play the Ukrainian card, emphasizing the injustice done to the Palestinians compared to the global support for the “blue-eyed” Ukrainians.
5. Sinwar notes that the Palestinians are in a good position for significant achievements for the Palestinian cause, adding that the global stage has shifted in favor of the Palestinians. Sinwar appeals to Palestinians in key-positions in the West, calling them to act now and take advantage of the current situation to accomplish significant achievements.
6. Sinwar announces that “you are mistaken if you think that our (military) campaign is over with the end of the month of Ramadan. The opposite is true – it has as only begun.” Sinwar calls on all the Palestinian military factions to enter a state of readiness, marking two new future dates for possible clashes in Al-Aqsa:
Israeli Independence Day (4-5/5) and Israeli Jerusalem Day (28-29/5).
7. Sinwar calls on Palestinians wherever they are (thus also addressing the Palestinians diaspora) to prepare for the “Great Campaign”, explaining that harming Jerusalem will result in a large regional religious war.
Sinwar is preparing Palestinians living abroad to “return to Palestine” soon. He is speaking in an almost in prophetic way, but he makes things sound as if they are practical, connecting his remarks to the reality and events from the past year. He manages to express ideas that used to sound delusional in the past in a way that sounds realistic and within reach.
8. Sinwar concludes his speech with an interesting statement:
“Soon, in coordination with the “Jerusalem axis” (the Iranian axis – Abu Ali), we will open a new maritime route (to Gaza – Abu Ali) with which we will break the siege. We will be able to leave and return to Gaza, exporting and importing goods.”
What is behind this statement? We will have to wait and see in the coming months.