Hamas supporters, Gaza City - AFP -  December 14, 2011
Hamas supporters in Gaza City, December 14, 2011. Photo by AFP
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GAZA CITY - Hamas leaders vowed never to recognize Israel and to continue their armed struggle against the Jewish state during a ceremony yesterday to mark the group's founding 24 years ago.

Thousands of Palestinians waved the group's green flag at a rally in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. Ismail Haniya, the Hamas prime minister, told the crowd that the Islamist group would not make concessions "over any inch of the land of Palestine and will never recognize Israel."

Hamas leaders said the rally was the biggest since the group's founding in 1987.

"I came here because I love Hamas," said one supporter, who gave his name as Abu Mohamed and brought his three children to the rally with him. "It is the only Palestinian movement that still believes in armed resistance against the Israeli occupation, and it is the only movement which calls for the liberation of the land of Palestine."

Hamas' armed wing, Iz al-Din al-Qassam, said in a statement yesterday that its members have killed 1,365 Israelis and wounded 6,411 others in 1,117 attacks since 1987. The attacks included 87 suicide bombings.

The group said it has also fired 11,093 rockets at Israeli targets. Some 1,848 Hamas militants were killed by Israel, it added.