GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Hamas commemorated the third anniversary of the Gaza war on Tuesday by stating that the coastal enclave has become a symbol of dignity in the face of adversity.
“The siege imposed on Gaza has failed to realize Israel’s goals when faced with the steadfastness and firmness of the Palestinian people," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a Gaza City press conference on Tuesday.
"Instead of being erased from the map, Gaza has become the Qibla (the direction Muslims face when praying) for the free people of the world and a symbol of dignity under challenge."
Israeli threats of another invasion in Gaza do not scare "the Hamas movement or the Palestinian people," and are a symptom of Israel's psychological defeat in the face of resistance.
Abu Zuhri said that the "war crimes" Israel committed in Operation Cast Lead were part of a "genocide which the Palestinian people have been facing since their land was occupied in 1948."
Hamas will continue to refer to the Goldstone report as "proof" of the occupation's war crimes in Gaza.
Abu Zuhri reiterated that his movement would continue to resist the Israeli occupation and is committed to making reconciliation a success, as unity will help the Palestinians gain independence and end the occupation.
Israel launched a three week war on the Gaza Strip on Dec. 27, 2008.
Nearly 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the military assault, including over 300 children. The majority of those killed were civilians.
According to UN figures, 20,000 people were made homeless by the invasion and Israel's military destroyed over 3,500 residential homes.
About 1.7 million Palestinians live in the narrow coastal enclave and UNRWA say Gaza's unemployment rate is still one of the most severe in the world.
The Gaza Strip has been under a sea, land and air blockade imposed by Israel since 2007. The blockade has been described as a form of collective punishment by rights agencies.