TOPICS: Hamas cheers Alan Johnston’s release

Together with all freedom loving peoples, we in the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, shared the moment of sheer joy July 4 when Alan Johnston was freed from


We pay tribute to the stoic dignity with which the BBC correspondent in Gaza bore his ordeal. We commend the patience and faith of his parents and all the British, Palestinian and other people around the world who campaigned and prayed for his release. From the outset, we committed ourselves to securing his release. I entered into discussions with British officials and gave assurances of our concerted efforts to secure Alan’s release.

The Palestinian people have been struggling for their freedom for almost a century. In our own land we have been denied human rights by an occupier that has enjoyed international support. As Johnston returns home, we hope that the British, and people the world over, reflect on the fact that more than 12,000 Palestinians are languishing in Israeli jails, unjustly denied freedom. They include ministers of a democratically elected government, parliamentarians, women and even children.

Many of these hapless captives are their family’s breadwinners. But the reality today in occupied Palestine is that there is no bread to win because the international community has imposed comprehensive sanctions on the Palestinians, denying them even the most basic necessities. All this is done to coerce us into accepting the occupier’s terms.

Nowhere can free people be made to surrender their historical and national rights. Accordingly, Palestinians will continue to make every sacrifice until we gain our freedom. In that endeavour, we are ready to work with all who wish to pursue our people’s just aims. We look to Britain’s new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, to begin a constructive new chapter in our relationship.

Many in the international community warned that the imposition of sanctions would undermine security and bring chaos to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Their warnings were ignored. The kidnap and 114-day-long captivity of Alan took place within a dysfunctional environment imposed from beyond Palestinian borders.

Is it not absurd that a duly elected and constituted government should be denied the authority, by external and internal forces, to control its security services? Is it not bizarre that a national security force should itself become a mechanism for the spread of disorder? Where else in the world today would an elected PM find persistent assassination attempts allowed to pass without any security measures? It is to address such chaos in Gaza that Hamas was compelled to take charge.

Hamas will not accept nor tolerate anyone exploiting the sacred cause of the Palestinian people to commit acts of murder and carnage around the world. Our strategy has always been and remains firmly based on the principle that the resistance should be fought only within Palestine. — The Guardian The author is head of Hamas political bureau