Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri urged Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip to esc1alate attacks on Israel while slamming Egypt's closure of the crossing point with Gaza, in an Internet audio message.
"Do not give up... Increase your martyrdom (suicide) attacks, the number of rockets you launch (on southern Israel) and your ambushes. There is no other solution," Zawahiri said in a message posted on an Islamist website yesterday on the occasion of the anniversary of the June 5, 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Gaza has been subjected to an Israeli blockade since the Islamist Hamas movement seized power in the coastal strip last June.
"To those who try to make you despair, tell them ... America is being defeated by our brothers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why should we despair," Zawahiri said in the message titled "on the occasion of the setback".
The term "setback" is used by the Arabs usually to refer to the defeat of the army of Egypt, Jordan and Syria by Israel, which led to Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the Golan Heights in Syria and Egypt's Sinai, which was returned to Egypt after signing the Camp David peace accords in 1978.
Egyptian-born Zawahiri slammed the Egyptian authorities for blocking the Rafah crossing point, the only gateway for Gaza, accusing the Egyptian government of aiding Israel by besieging the Palestinians.
"I say to my brothers in Gaza, those who are putting you under siege are traitors, starting from the soldier in the central security forces who is guarding the treason fence to (Egyptian President) Hosni Mubarak," he said.
"It is your right to enter Egypt whenever you wish, and to destroy treason fences whenever you want," he said.