The Palestinian people are united behind the resistance, which is legitimate as long as Israel occupies Palestinian land, national icon Leila Khaled said Monday.
“Your people in the diaspora kiss the ground you walk on because it’s the land of Palestine,” Khaled told crowds during a visit to the northern Gaza home of Naem al-Kafarneh, who was killed by Israeli forces.
“In your last battle, you registered epic resistance and determination,” said Khaled, a politburo member and former fighter of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. “We heard pride … the voice of resistance and determination.”
Israel’s eight-day operation on Gaza, which ended with a ceasefire on Nov. 21, would not be the last war, Khaled said, adding that Israel’s aggression began in 1948.
“I don’t expect to win after the first half of the battle, it’s an open battle that is being transferred through generations,” she said.
Khaled said lessons must be drawn from the war, and warned that Israel would continue to strike the resistance and to attack Palestinian steadfastness through its blockade and by destroying homes.
“We do not accept this occupation to remain on Palestinian land,” she said, adding that Israel should be assured “our left hand is always on the trigger.”
Khaled, from Haifa, was among hundreds of thousands of Palestinians forced to flee their homes during the creation of Israel in 1948, a period remembered by Palestinians as the Nakba, or catastrophe.
“We are the generation of the Nakba … We tell all martyrs we are still committed to the testament and your blood will not be wasted.
“I tell all prisoners, you are our heroes who lit the light for us to Haifa, Jaffa and Akka. This is what I have learned from the PFLP and from the determination and resistance of our people.”
Khaled warned that the rights of millions of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes could not be bargained away, and said Palestinians had died for this right.
She demanded that Palestinian leaders reconcile, and end all negotiations and security coordination with Israel.
“The Palestinian people didn’t struggle for two governments — one in the West Bank and one in Gaza — but for one homeland,” the right to return and independence.
“To the leaderships, you must listen to your people who united in marches and protests in all places and revolted in 48 areas and the West Bank, they revolted in refugee camps and the right of return for them became closer that they expected.”
She sent greetings to jailed PFLP leader Ahmad Saadat: “You will come out to freedom, you and all prisoners.”
“We are determined to follow your path and the path of our founder, George Habash and Abu Ali Mustafa and before them Wadi Haddad and Ghassan Kanafani.”
Khaled arrived in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday and has toured homes, a hospital and a kindergarten in the enclave, surveying sites destroyed during Israel’s last war.
She gained worldwide notoriety for hijacking an airplane in 1969, which she rerouted to Damascus and blew up after passengers had disembarked. She has said the pilot flew over her childhood home in Haifa at her instruction.
The PFLP icon then had plastic surgery to alter her appearance before hijacking an El-Al flight out of Rome in 1970, when her accomplice was shot dead by Israeli agents. She was briefly detained in London and freed in a prisoner swap deal.
No passengers were harmed on either flights, and Khaled has said the hijackings aimed to bring international attention to the plight of Palestinians.
She resides in Amman in Jordan.