The Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, vowed Saturday to continue its armed campaign against Israel after Jewish settlers and troops protecting them leave the Gaza Strip. It sent a message to Palestinians celebrating the impending withdrawal, saying that resistance is key to ending occupation and achieving statehood.
"Wherever there is occupation, there is resistance. Gaza will not be first and last," senior leader Ismail Haniyah said at a news conference attended by at least 10 Hamas co-founders and leaders.
"Hamas affirms its commitment to resistance as a strategic choice until the occupation withdraws from our land and our holy sites," he said.
Hamas, which is dedicated to Israel's destruction, showcased its leaders and political message one day after thousands attended the Palestinian Authority's beachfront celebration of the planned Israeli pullout, which is to begin Monday.
The authority's president, Mahmoud Abbas, said the evacuation of all of Israel's 21 settlements in Gaza and four of 120 in the West Bank would inevitably lead to a Palestinian state.
The Palestinian Authority put its security forces on their highest alert level ahead of deployment on Sunday near settlements. They are charged with preventing any bid by gunmen to disrupt the pullout.
Israeli police commissioner Moshe Karadi said police would go on high alert in southern Israel on Sunday and put up roadblocks to ensure that more pullout opponents do not slip into Gaza settlements to join about 3,000 protesters already there.