Very bad news:
Hamas militants in Gaza posted an audio tape of a captive Israeli soldier on the Internet on Monday, just hours before their rivals for power among the Palestinians were to hold a summit with Israel.
As Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas flew in to Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Sergeant Gilad Shalit was heard asking for medical treatment and urging Israel to free Palestinian prisoners.
A spokesman for Hamas militants, who routed Abbas’s secular forces in Gaza this month to split the coastal enclave from Abbas’s larger stronghold in the West Bank, said it was up to Israel to make a deal to free Shalit, a 20-year-old conscript. He was seized a year ago to the day by militants who tunneled up to his border post and killed two other soldiers.
Abbas, leader of the long-dominant Fatah faction, and Israel have both sworn to isolate Hamas in the Gaza Strip while pressing on with efforts to set up a Palestinian state. But the release of the anniversary tape showed obstacles to such a settlement with 1.5 million Palestinians, one in three of the new state’s potential citizens, now living under Hamas rule.
“The only beneficiary of these summits is the Zionist enemy,” Mushir al-Masri, a member of the Hamas majority in the now moribund Palestinian parliament told Reuters. “It is surprising that at a time when Abbas has shut the door on talks with Hamas he is running and begging for a meeting with Olmert.”
Shalit, whose only previous contact with the outside world was a handwritten note nine months ago, said: “I regret the lack of interest of the Israeli government and military in my case. “Thousands of Palestinian detainees have mothers and fathers whose sons must be returned to them.”
An aide to Olmert said Shalit’s plight would not become a central issue at the meeting in Egypt. The prime minister said he hoped his summit with Abbas, accompanied by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Abdullah, would instead project a new spirit of peace after Hamas’s takeover.
But Olmert cautioned, in a speech in Jerusalem, against expectations of any breakthrough at the four-way meeting.
More in BBC.
In the audio message, Al-Qaeda’s number two charged that Egypt and Saudi Arabia were planning to join an “offensive” against Hamas, which seized Gaza 10 days ago from the secular Fatah party of president Mahmud Abbas.
And in a dramatic change of tone, Zawahiri urged Muslim fighters to back Hamas with funds and weapons, saying it was a “religious duty.”
“Today we must support the mujahedeen (holy warriors) in Palestine, including the Hamas mujahedeen, despite all the mistakes made by their leadership,” Zawahiri said on the Al-Hasbah site often used by Al-Qaeda.
“Unite with all the mujahedeen of the world against an offensive being prepared… which the Egyptians and Saudis will join in,” he said.
Zawahiri, who in the past spoke out vehemently against the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) for joining the political process in the Palestinian territories, urged the group to amend its policies.
“We tell our brothers, the Hamas mujahedeen, that we and the entire Muslim nation stands alongside you but you must redress your (political) path,” said the man regarded as the brains of the Al-Qaeda network.
Peaceful message indeed.
Doesn’t sound like “Proletarians of the world, unite yourselves“, just a little at the very least?
Eye on the World points out that Jimmy Carter made a similar statement some days ago.
But that is not all: Al Qaeda calls on Hamas to implement Islamic Sharia Rule.
Al-Zawahiri urged Hamas to implement Islamic law in Gaza, telling it, “Taking over power is not a goal but a means to implement God’s word on earth.”