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Gaza´s New Hamas Chief Says Bush ´Enemy of Islam´ (REUTERS) By Shahdi el-Kashif GAZA 03/28/04 08:42 AM ET) Source: http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=4678824
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GAZA (Reuters) - The new Hamas leader in Gaza said Sunday President Bush is the enemy of God and Islam but stopped short of threatening revenge on Americans as he has on Israel for its killing of the militant group´s founder.
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Driven underground by Israel´s vow to wipe out the remaining Hamas leadership by air strike, Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi emerged briefly for a fiery open-air speech before 5,000 people in the main courtyard of Gaza City´s Islamic University.
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Israeli warplanes roared overhead at one point during his address and the crowd gazed skyward nervously. But Rantissi seemed unmoved and kept speaking. He was flanked by armed bodyguards and stood on a podium close to the throng.
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Rantissi, who last June survived an Israeli missile strike of the kind that killed Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin a week ago, said Thursday´s U.S. veto of a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Yassin´s assassination was no surprise.
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"We realize that Bush is the enemy of God, the enemy of Islam and Muslims. America declared war on God. (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon declared war on God and God declared war on America, Bush and Sharon," he said.
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"The war of God goes on against them and I can see victory arising from the land of Palestine by the hand of Hamas," Rantissi said of the militant faction behind suicide bombings that have killed hundreds of Israelis.
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A grassroots movement challenging mainstream Palestinian authority and its policy of negotiations with Israel, Hamas seeks not just to roll back Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank but to destroy the Jewish state.
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After Yassin´s assassination, leaders of Hamas said it had the right to target Sharon. But they stressed it would stick to policy of eschewing attacks on foreign, including U.S., targets.
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Rantissi again vowed Hamas would hit Israel hard over Yassin´s slaying. "I remind you that ... we do not forget the blood of our martyrs," he told the crowd, in which many people held up portraits of the elderly, wheelchair-bound cleric.
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Rantissi called on Arab states to sever any relations they had with Israel but said they only looked weak following the weekend postponement of an Arab League summit in a dispute over democratic reform proposals.
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"The blood of Yassin is urging you to shut down the (Israeli) embassies and representative offices. Stop meeting the killers. Stop meeting Sharon. Boycott them, commercially, diplomatically and culturally and in security (contacts)."
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The assassination of Yassin disturbed summit preparations by exposing the impotence of Arab governments which mustered no response stronger than ritual words of condemnation. (© Reuters 2004 03/28/04)
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