Osama bin Laden has called for Muslims to wage a holy war against Israel over the invasion of Gaza. The recording, which was dated to the current month in the Islamic calendar and called "A Call for Jihad to Stop the Aggression against Gaza", was posted on websites on Wednesday.
"God has bestowed us with the patience to continue the path of jihad for another seven years, and seven and seven years," the voice on the tape, purported to be that of bin Laden, said. "The question is, can America continue its war with us for several more decades to come? Reports and evidence would suggest otherwise."
It was not possible to independently identify the voice on the tape. The 22-minute audio statement said jihad was necessary to restore "Jerusalem and Palestine".
It criticised the way Arab governments have handled the war Israel has been waging in Gaza for 19 days. Nearly 1,000 Palestinians have been killed in the onslaught, and more than 4,000 others injured over the last three weeks. Israel says 13 Israelis have been killed. Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians hit by rockets fired from the Gaza Strip have been killed in the violence. Israel has continued to drop bunker-busting bombs on around 35 smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border in a bid to halt Hamas re-arming.
Thousands of people have taken to the streets across the Arab world in anger and protest against the attacks, but Arab government have responded with little concrete action against Israel. The speaker on Wednesday's tape hailed the global financial crisis as a decline in US influence around the world and said it would, in turn, weaken Israel - one of Washington's closest allies.
Gordon Johndroe, a US White House spokesman, said: "It appears this tape demonstrates his isolation and ... looks to be an effort to raise money as part of [al-Qaeda's] ongoing propaganda campaign."
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