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JERUSALEM – Moments after official election results this afternoon certified a large Hamas victory in Palestinian ballots, members of the terror group planted their green flags on the main parliament building in Ramallah, with some Hamas gunmen declaring hard-line Islamic law will soon be imposed in the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinian security sources in the area told WorldNetDaily.
The Hamas demonstration prompted clashes with rival activists from the currently ruling Fatah Party and highlighted longstanding worries Hamas will use its gains to impose a Taliban-like Islamist regime on the Palestinian population.
Final results released by the Palestinian Central Election Commission showed Hamas won 76 seats in 132-seat parliament, with the Fatah garnering only 43 seats.
Hamas chief Mahmoud al-Zahar told WorldNetDaily his terror group will seek to create a coalition with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party, but some Fatah officials said the group may bolt the government and place themselves in the opposition. This would make Hamas the main Palestinian powerbroker.
“We are holding emergency meetings to decide our next course of action,” chief Palestinian negotiation minister Saeb Erekat told WND. “I don’t think Fatah is going to join. This is not our way [to be in the minority].”
At least 13 people were injured in the clashes outside the Ramallah parliament, and light damage was done to the building, security sources in Ramallah said.
“The Hamas members were dancing with their flags, and they announced Sharia law will soon rule in the Palestinian territories,” said a source.
Today’s clashes were the latest in a series of reports indicating Hamas is seeking to impose Taliban-like Islamic rule on the Palestinians.
A Hamas-run council in the West Bank recently barred an open-air music and dance festival, declaring it was against Islam.
“This is not acceptable,” festival head Eman Hamouri told reporters at the time, accusing Hamas of trying to force its values on others. “We condemn this and we have sought the help of the Palestinian parliament to discuss this serious issue.”
In response to the incident, al-Zahar told WND: “I hardly understand the point of view of the West concerning these issues. The West brought all this freedom to its people but it is that freedom that has brought about the death of morality in the West. It’s what led to phenomena like homosexuality, homeless and AIDS.”
Israeli officials say Hamas in the Gaza Strip has established hard-line Islamic courts and created the Hamas Anti-Corruption Group, which is described as a kind of “morality police” operating within Hamas’ organization.
Hamas has denied the existence of the anti-corruption group, but the group recently carried out a high-profile “honor killing” widely covered by the Palestinian media.
Last April, Yusra al-Azzami, a young female university student from Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, was caught by Hamas, together with another female, riding in a vehicle with two men. The Hamas members, reportedly officers of the Anti-Corruption Group, suspected the vehicle occupants of “immoral behavior” and shot at the car, killing al-Azzami and wounding the other occupants.
Reuven Erlich, director of Israel’s Center for Special Studies, told WND the murder of al-Azzami, which was later reportedly settled in a hard-line Hamas Islamic court, “demonstrated several alarming factors. Among them that Hamas is imposing Islamic law and order, and also that they have their own Islamic courts and enforcement system.”
Erlich compared Hamas’ governing intentions to the rules imposed by the Taliban until it was ousted from leadership in Afghanistan following the United States-led invasion in 2001.
The Taliban reportedly used “morality police” to enforce Islamic extremist laws, including the public stoning of suspected adulterers, cutting off the arms of thieves, banning education and work for females, and the imposing of harsh sentences for those in possession of “disgraceful material,” such as Western music or books.
Asked if he will impose similar Islamic law on the Palestinians once his group assumes power, Hamas chief al-Zahar told WND: “The Palestinian people are Muslim people and we do not need to impose anything on our people because they are already committed to their faith and religion. People are free to choose their way of life, their way of dress and behavior.”
Al-Zahar said his terror group, which demands strict dress codes for females, respects women’s rights.
“It is wrong to think that in our Islamic society there is a lack of rights for women. Women enjoy their rights. What we have, unlike the West, is that young women cannot be with men and have relations outside marriage. Sometimes with tens of men. This causes the destruction of the family institution and the fact that many kids come to the world without knowing who are their fathers or who are their mothers. This is not a modern and progressed society,” al-Zahar explained.
The terror chieftain told WND the West can learn from his group’s Islamic values.
“Here I refer to what was said in the early ’90s by Britain’s Prince Charles at Oxford University. He spoke about Islam and its important role in morality and culture. He said that the West must learn from Islam how to bring up children properly and to teach them the right values.”
Yehudit Barsky, director of the division on Middle East and International Terrorism at the American Jewish Committee, explained Hamas has in the past few years provided social welfare services to endear itself to the Palestinian population, but once in power, it will likely impose hard-line rules.
“Hamas has used social welfare organizations in competition to the lesser or nonexistent services of the [Palestinian Authority] to garner support for its political candidates. The result is that Hamas has outstripped the PA in providing services to the Palestinian population,” said Barsky.
The terror group has long administered social services in Gaza, including medical, charitable and educational resources. Hamas also maintains a civilian infrastructure in Gaza that owns several shopping centers and local businesses, sources say.
But, Barsky said, “The Palestinians are falling for the same trick the Taliban pulled in Afghanistan. Hamas has set itself up as the non-corrupt alternative to the PA. It provides important social services the Palestinian population enjoys. Once Hamas gains control, it will pull the rug out and impose the same harsh lifestyle as the Taliban. The Palestinians clearly have not learned the lessons of the Taliban’s rise to power.”
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