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unhappycamper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 06:22 AM
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Emboldened Hamas Declares Victory
Emboldened Hamas Declares Victory
January 20, 2009
Associated Press

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Emboldened by surviving Israel's military onslaught, Hamas declared victory Tuesday in rallies attended by thousands supporters waving green Islamic flags atop the ruins in Gaza.

The Islamic militants taunted Israel - one huge banner proclaimed Israel's defeat in Hebrew - and said Gaza is just a stepping stone for eliminating the Jewish state. "Hamas today is more powerful," Ismail Radwan, a Hamas leader, told a crowd from a terrace overlooking Gaza's main square, with the demolished parliament building serving as a backdrop.

However, beyond the fiery words, Hamas has offered no plans for rebuilding Gaza, which suffered about $2 billion in destruction during Israel's three-week war on Hamas. Also, Gaza's borders with Israel and Egypt, largely sealed since Hamas seized Gaza 19 months ago, are unlikely to open unless the militants relinquish some of their control.

Just a few hundred yards (meters) from the main Hamas rally, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon toured the local U.N. headquarters, inspecting damage from an Israeli shelling attack last week. The shells hit car repair shops and three warehouses where flour, oil and other food rations for Gaza's growing population of needy were stored.

Five days after the shelling, piles of rice, beans and medicine were still smoldering, and Ban spoke to reporters just a few feet (meters) away from where the white smoke rose into the air. The buzz of Israeli unmanned aircraft, accompanied his remarks.

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