August 1, 2002
About 10,000 Palestinians handed out sweets, sang songs and chanted
anti-Israeli slogans as they marched through Gaza City on Wednesday to
celebrate the bombing that killed seven people at Jerusalem’s Hebrew
The rally was organised by the Islamic movement Hamas, which said it carried
out the attack to avenge an Israeli air strike on Gaza last week that killed its
military commander Salah Shehada and 14 others, including nine children.
“The price of the Israeli crime to assassinate the leader Salah Shehada is more
than 100 Israeli soldiers and that will come in 10 martyrs’ operations (suicide
attacks),” the military wing of Hamas, the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam brigades, said
in a statement read through a loudspeaker.
“We give this gift to the soul of Sheikh Salah Shehada and we say to the
al-Qassam brigades we are waiting for more,” a voice shouted through a
Hamas regards most Israelis as soldiers because most are conscripted at the
age of 18 and serve annually in military reserve units.
The marchers walked past one of Shehada’s family’s homes and many knelt
and prayed for revenge. They described Wednesday’s bombing as “a gift to the
soul” of Shehada and “a march of joy”.
The marchers waved Hamas flags and included a large number of children who
clapped and laughed. Palestinians often hand out sweets in such celebration
In the Balata refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus, dozens of people
staged a rally chanting slogans of support for Wednesday’s attack. Eight
masked men set fire to an effigy of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Another
group of men carried a model of a Qassam rocket — the type used by Hamas.