Hamas preacher defies government order to stop talking politics in mosques"America will be defeated in Iraq and the believing Muslims will come here victorious."
Associated Press Writer
NABLUS, West Bank — A leading Hamas preacher on Friday defied an order by the moderate Palestinian government in the West Bank to stop talking about politics in mosques, instead taunting his Fatah rivals in his weekly sermon.
However, other clergy heeded the call to tone down their rhetoric, part of a campaign to stem Hamas' influence in the West Bank following the Islamic group's violent takeover of Gaza.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad warned Islamic preachers on Thursday that he would not tolerate calls for violence delivered from mosque pulpits and would collect militants' weapons.
At a mosque in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the preacher stuck to generalities, without getting into politics; two police cars were parked outside. And in Jenin, a pro-Hamas preacher was replaced by a clergyman who spoke of the need to support the new Palestinian leadership.
However, Hamas leader Maher Kharas railed against the U.S., Israel and Palestinian moderates in a sermon at a mosque in the old city of Nablus, an area raided by Israeli troops seeking Palestinian militants earlier in the day.
"Israel soldiers invaded Nablus for two days. Where is the government to defend the old city? Where is the government that demanded the dismantling of the armed brigades?" he said. "America will be defeated in Iraq and the believing Muslims will come here victorious."
In 1996, then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat cracked down on Hamas preachers after a series of Hamas suicide bombings in Israel. He monitored them closely and those considered too militant lost their jobs. Kharas was one of them, and only returned to the pulpit last year after Hamas won parliamentary elections.
Kharas said he feared no one and would not change his ways even if it cost him his job. "All my life, I preached and talked about jihad (holy war)," he said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, appealed Friday for an international force for Gaza so the divided Palestinians can hold new elections, and insisted he was determined to isolate the militant Hamas. Abbas was in Paris for talks with newly elected President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Earlier Friday, Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian militant near Nablus.
The army said soldiers saw two armed men getting into a taxi, followed the vehicle, then fired at one of the gunmen who jumped out of the car.
The man, identified by witnesses as Haitham Saleh, 22, of the Balata refugee camp near Nablus, was a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a violent offshoot of Abbas' Fatah movement.
Israel has said it would not stop fighting Abbas-allied militants in the West Bank even though it backs Abbas in his struggle against Hamas.
Also Friday, a U.N. aid group said it hasn't been able to bring sufficient supplies into Gaza because borders have been closed since the Hamas takeover.
Christopher Gunness of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency said his agency, which serves about three-quarters of Gaza's population, needs to bring in 125 truckloads every day. On Friday, UNRWA was only able to send 10 truckloads of dairy and nine truckloads of wheat, he said.
"The economy is basically dead on its feet, so that's increasing the number of people dependent on our aid," Gunness said.
Shlomo Dror, a spokesman for Israel's liaison office with the Palestinians, said 71 truckloads were shipped to Gaza on Friday. He said Israel determined the minimum amount of trucks required to pass daily is 67, but that the aim is more than 100 truckloads each day.
"We are touch with people in Gaza and we know there is no shortage of products in the homes," Dror said.
That is their hope and their prayer. I am sure that this "man of faith" has faith that this will happen. Many other people also make that claim. But no one wants to hear them. If the world thinks there is a humanitarian crisis in the middle east, wait until the Islamo fascists get the upper hand. What's happening now will pale in comparison.