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Voices of Palestine: Yunis Al-Astal
By Frank Crimi
December 9, 2011

 


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  • Longtime Hamas-affiliated imam who calls for jihad and genocide against the Jews



See also:  Hamas


Born in 1956 in the Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis, Yunis Al-Astal spent many years as a Hamas-affiliated imam who regularly delivered incendiary, anti-Semitic sermons in the mosques of Gaza. Those sermons gained Astal international notoriety as a prolific Jew-hater, and in 2006 the United Kingdom refused to permit him into that country because of his efforts “to foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence.”

When Hamas gained political control of Gaza in early 2006, Al-Astal stepped down from the pulpit and became a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. In that role, he was part of a 2009 effort by Hamas to prevent the United Nations Relief and Works Agency from including lessons about the Holocaust in the curriculum of the Gazan preparatory schools it administers. According to Al-Astal, teaching Palestinian children about the Nazi genocide of Jews would be tantamount to “marketing a lie,” and the introduction of such a topic in a school setting would constitute a veritable “war crime.”

Al-Astal champions many forms of violence against Jews, in particular suicide bombings as practiced by the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, of which Al-Astal himself is a member. In a 2007 interview on Hamas-controlled Al-Aqsa TV, Al-Astal said:

“The most exalted form of jihad is fighting for the sake of Allah, which means sacrificing one’s soul by fighting the enemies head-on, even if it leads to martyrdom. Martyrdom means life next to Allah. Each and every boy and man, and each and every girl and woman, is a potential martyrdom-seeker. The enemy should know that we are prepared to wear explosive belts, and to throw ourselves in the midst of the enemy, in order to make them taste the evil consequences of their deeds.”

Noting that “the duty of jihad is ten times greater than the duty of wearing a veil,” Al-Astal reserves special praise for female suicide bombers who choose to follow the example of Safiyya, the aunt of the Prophet Muhammad, who “used a pole to kill a Jew in the Battle of the Trench.” “This intifada of ours has recorded more than 15 exemplary cases of girls who were martyred for the sake of Allah,” Al-Astal recounted in 2007. “But not before making the Jews – the brothers of apes and pigs – taste the bitterness of death.”

By Al-Astal's reckoning, Allah has prepared a ghastly fate for the Jewish people as a whole. In a 2008 newspaper column, Al-Astal wrote: “Suffering by fire is the Jews’ destiny in this world and the next. Therefore we are sure that the Holocaust is still to come upon the Jews.” In an interview three years later on Al-Aqsa TV, he said:

“The [Jews] are brought in droves to Palestine so that the Palestinians – and the Islamic nation behind them – will have the honor of annihilating the evil of this gang. All the predators, all the birds of prey, all the dangerous reptiles and insects, and all the lethal bacteria are far less dangerous than the Jews. In just a few years, all the Zionists and the settlers will realize that their arrival in Palestine was for the purpose of the great massacre, by means of which Allah wants to relieve humanity of their evil.”

Also in 2011, Al-Astal explained that exterminating the Jews would be just the first step in Allah’s grand plan:

“When Palestine is liberated and its people return to it, and the entire region, with the grace of Allah, will have turned into the United States of Islam, the land of Palestine will become the capital of the Islamic Caliphate, and all these countries will turn into states within the Caliphate. When this happens, any Palestinian will be able to live anywhere, because the land of Islam is the property of all Muslims.”

This prediction was an extension of comments Al-Astal had made three years earlier in an April 11, 2008 interview, on the occasion of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Jordan and Israel:

“Very soon, Allah willing, Rome will be conquered, just like Constantinople was, as was prophesized by our Prophet Muhammad. Today, Rome is the capital of the Catholics, or the Crusader capital, which has declared its hostility to Islam, and has planted the brothers of apes and pigs in Palestine in order to prevent the reawakening of Islam -- this capital of theirs will be an advanced post for the Islamic conquests, which will spread through Europe in its entirety, and then will turn to the two Americas, and even Eastern Europe. I believe that our children or our grandchildren will inherit our Jihad and our sacrifices, and Allah willing, the commanders of the conquest will come from among them.”


This profile is adapted, in part, from "Voices of Palestine: Yunis Al-Astal," by Frank Crimi (December 9, 2011)
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