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Exclusive interview with Palestine leader Khaled Qaddoumi

‘World sees first-hand “21-century holocaust” happening in Palestine’

 

 

 

By Abdul Bari Masoud

Since the onset of war on October 7, the death toll from Israel’s genocidal attacks on the Gaza Strip has reached at least 9,572 people as of November 4. More than 26,000 people, mostly women, children, and the elderly, have been wounded as well. The US has been backing Israel’s ferocious attacks on the Palestinian territory as a means of “self-defense.”

Following Operation al-Aqsa Storm, the largest operation that Hamas’s military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, had carried out against the occupying regime in years, Israel declared war on them. The ongoing developments in Gaza have shaken the world, asking Israel and its western backers to halt the war, but Israel is adamant. To top it all, Washington has been vetoing the resolution passed by the UN Security Council that asks Israel to stop its aggression.

To know the ground situation in besieged Gaza and the implications of the latest war, Radiance spoke to Hamas’s representative in Tehran, Khaled Qaddoumi, who also acts as a spokesperson for the Iranian and international media.

In an exclusive interview with Radiance’s Abdul Bari Masoud, Qaddoumi lambasted the US and its allies for their hypocrisy and blatant support for the Israeli occupation.

The conflict, according to him, represents a “strategic shift” for Hamas, as it has moved from protecting Gaza from Israeli attacks to defending all Palestinians who reside in historical Palestine.

Main excerpts:

Question: Hamas shocked everyone on October 7 by carrying out Operation Al-Aqsa Flood. But did Hamas leadership consider its consequences given the way Israel is responding and the way civilians and children are being killed? Was it a judicious move?

Answer: The world has been awakened by Operation al-Aqsa Storm after a century. It has adopted a deafening silence on happenings in the occupied Palestinian territories and the continued Israeli oppression and subjugation.

For the first time, the operation has exposed the Israeli genocide of Palestinians to the world. The Israeli occupation army has been targeting civilians in Gaza to cover up its failure in the war. It has committed 1,000 massacres against Palestinians in the enclave, the last of which was bombing ambulances.

Q: What was the motive behind this attack and its timing?

A: The decades-long Israeli occupation, during which hundreds of massacres against our people were carried out, is the primary cause of the problem. Israel murders Palestinians on a daily basis, whether or not they resist. The 17-year-old siege on the Gaza Strip is brutal, and the occupation has acknowledged that it even regulates the number of calories that Gazans eat.

The bulk of young people in the Gaza Strip and West Bank are losing hope for the future because of the hundreds of victims and enormous losses. Now that it has raised global awareness of the plight of Palestinians, the Israeli narrative of the conflict in Palestine is losing traction, and instead, the Palestinian narrative is getting more popular.

Q: However, there are allegations that Hamas fighters have beheaded children, raped women, and killed innocent civilians; these stories are widely available in the western media, and the Israeli Prime Minister likened Hamas to the dreaded terror group IS.

A: If you allow me, I will tell a story about Europeans who discovered America. They first told that the Red Indians, the original inhabitants, were man-eaters. The real thing about the Americans and Europeans is that they were basically fishermen and used to go to sea for hunting. When they lost the route and exhausted food provisions, they first killed the cook’s wife and then the cook to feed themselves. Blood-shedding is their culture. Something out of their culture, they called their opponents Red Indians and man-eaters. They give bad names to good people in order to spread lies, while they themselves are terrorists. Therefore, Israel is dishing out utter lies about civilians’ killings. You observed three things in the media. First, they alleged that Hamas bombed the musical concert. One woman, a foreign correspondent, spread this lie. You should see the video on YouTube where people were running helter-skelter in the desert, but the video did not show any music or bombing of the place. Two days later, the woman correspondent herself admitted that she did not visit the spot but filed the story on the basis of Israeli sources.

The second thing they said was that, like IS, Hamas fighters beheaded children. Nauzubillah min zalik, God forbid, they did not offer any evidence about this ghastly crime. Even US President Joe Biden mentioned this in his statement, but later the White House made it clear that it was mentioned by the Israeli Prime Minister during his telephonic conversation, and we have no evidence about beheading or rape of women. Three years ago, when Israeli settlers wanted to desecrate the Holy Quds mosque, they made similar allegations. In order to divert attention from their internal crisis, Israel makes such allegations. We are not killers, but freedom fighters. We do not believe in bloodshed, as we are fighting for a just cause.

The Israelis who witnessed the events attest to the fact that our freedom fighters did not murder them. Instead, there are video clips that demonstrate the fighters’ concern for Israeli children. You see the freed Israeli woman’s story about being taken hostage by the Hamas fighters. She told the world how she was treated well during captivity. Her captors asked her what she wanted, which she could take and eat. Can a person who requests to eat kill non-combatants?

Moreover, Israeli witnesses said that their army was responsible for the deaths of 22 Israeli civilian hostages because the fighters’ homes were bombed by the Israeli army, which resulted in the deaths of numerous civilians.

Q: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that one of the goals of the Hamas attack was to thwart Israel’s normalization of relations with Arab nations through the Abrahamic Accords.

A: The so-called normalization agreements between Israel and a number of Arab states are crimes on par with Israel’s war crimes and its war against the Palestinian people. The rulers who chose to normalize relations with Israel disregarded the sentiments of their own people, who are ardent advocates of the Palestinian cause.

The Al-Aqsa flood operation has marginalized those countries which are  supporting normalization, tilting the situation in favor of the Palestinians, and foiling all the conspiracies hatched against them.

Q: Then what is the best way forward to solve this conflict?

A: You, being Indian, know your country’s freedom struggle. There are two scenarios before us. One is diplomatic and peaceful negotiations, and the other is armed resistance. The option of a peaceful solution has been miserably unsuccessful due to Israel’s stubbornness and expansionism. The Palestinian people have been waiting for 75 years to get their rights restored, but to no avail. During this period, there were dozens of UN resolutions against Israel, but the US didn’t allow even a single one of them to be really implemented. In the 1990s, the PLO pursued the “peace process” with Israel and extended an olive branch to the Israeli regime; however, “it got nothing” but hollow words in return.

The hypocrisy, blatant double standards, and moral bankruptcy of the West, who are watching as silent bystanders and enablers of the current conflict, stand thoroughly exposed. Palestinians have found that they’ve no option but to resist the Israeli crimes. It is the only way we found to be effective, which we experienced in 2005, to raise the cost of occupation, to make [Israelis] move using hard power, and to make the occupation incur a lot of security and economic losses, referring to the 2006 Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Today, the backbone of our resistance is our weapon, the military. Not because it is a choice, but because it is a compulsory track that has proved successful, and it will push the Israelis to go outside of our lands. Palestinians just want to live freely. It is a trial of humanity that will determine if it stands with Palestine in the face of brutality and hostility. Palestinians are engaged in a struggle against apartheid, just like “Nelson Mandela”.

Q: However, there are differences and disunity among the Palestinian resistance groups that also harm the Palestinian cause.

A: At this moment, we are all standing united and fighting our common enemy. We have a joint room of war in which major groups such as Al-Fatah, Hamas, Al-Jihad Islami, Popular Front, and others. The Hamas movement was founded in 1987 and democratically elected in 2006, but Israel, the United States, and the unjust Western world did not allow them to work in a democratic and peaceful environment.

Q: How do you see the Islamic world, particularly Arab nations’ role in the current conflict, as a couple of them have established diplomatic relations with Israel?

A: It is fortunate that the Arab world, the OIC, NAM, and other organizations all support the Palestinian stance, but they did not put enough pressure on implementing the resolutions on Palestine. There is a dichotomy. People wholeheartedly support the Palestinian people, but their rulers do not show such zeal.

Q: Did the Palestinians achieve anything with this operation, the Al-Aqsa storm?

A: The popular protests around the globe in support of Palestinians as the world is witnessing first-hand that the “21-century holocaust” is happening in Palestine. The narrative of Israel today is losing, and the narrative of Palestine and justice is winning today. There’s a unanimous global stance against the Israeli occupation, and this has forced governments to show support for Palestine as Bahrain, Türkiye, and other countries recalled their ambassadors from Israel or downgraded relations with the Israeli regime.

The public opinion pressure is so high that even the US, which has been supporting Israel since the very beginning of the conflict, now talks about the need for a ceasefire. People in Germany now ask why their money should be spent on supporting Israel over the so-called holocaust that happened many decades ago and has nothing to do with them.

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