Exclusive news report by Julie Webb-Pullman for Middle East Monitor
Hamas spokesperson Fawzy Barhoum said today that the only way this “one-sided war” will end is when Israel stops bombing Gaza.
“We have sustained high numbers of casualties – over 100 civilians dead, 150 homes destroyed sometimes with families still inside them, we are the victims. We are defending our civilians from a massacre,” he said outside Shifa Hospital in Gaza City early this afternoon.
“We are being attacked from the sea, from the air, from the land – there is massive destruction, and we have the right to defend our people from these attacks. There will be no ceasefire until the occupation stops its shelling of Gaza.”
Noting that the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza had been kept closed while the Taba crossing between Egypt and Israel had been kept open, Barhoum was adamant that the Egyptians must open Rafah to enable urgently-needed assistance to enter Gaza to prevent a complete humanitarian disaster.
Rafah opened this morning for one day to allow the exit for treatment of those injured over the past three days who cannot be treated in Gaza, but this is not enough.
“We need drugs, materials, medical assistance, fuel – we need everything.”
Huda Naim, a deputy of the Palestinian Legislative Council Unity Government, agrees. In a letter sent out today to parliamentarians of the free world she warns of “endless humanitarian disasters, because of the length of the hermetic siege on Gaza Strip, resulting in a severe shortage of necessities, in the services provided by the Ministry of health, municipalities and all providers of services to people in normal circumstances, as the savage aggression is unlimited and could expand more and more.”
While the parliamentarian calls on diplomatic circles to work with the United Nations organisations and the Security Council to condemn and halt the Israeli aggression, Barhoum has little faith in that path.
“I have no hope that the UN Security Council meeting will help us – they always support Israel against Palestine,” he said.
Historically, the facts support his contention. The UN partition plan of 1947, in direct breach of the UN Charter itself which upholds the right to self-determination, sought to divide Palestine, giving the proposed state of Israel more than 50% of Palestine’s territory without giving Palestinians themselves any choice in the matter, and despite Palestinians having a far larger population.
Since then, Israel has steadily occupied and illegally settled increasingly-vast tracts of Palestinian territory in breach of international law, while the UN has done nothing to rein it in, or to deliver justice to Palestinians in any way, shape or form. The UN consistently condemns Palestinian rocket fire, but never the massive Israeli military machine that wreaks a hundred times more havoc on Palestinians, merely suggesting ‘restraint.’
“Every people have the right to defend themselves,” said Barhoum. “Israel is killing civilians by the hundreds, Palestinian civilians. We are the victims. Israel is the aggressor. Count the dead, count the injured. We are just trying to defend our civilians.”
Barhoum expressed considerable surprise at the comparative silence of Abu Mazen (President Abbas) and Prime Minister Hamdallah of the new unity government.
“They have barely said a word – we are defending Palestine, we are defending Al Aqsa and they say little and do even less. They should be ashamed of themselves,” he said.
“I hope the people of the West Bank continue their intifada against the Israeli occupation, and continue their support of Palestinians in Gaza.”
As Barhoum says, it is a very one-sided war and it is abundantly clear who the real aggressor is – and thus in whose hands the solution lies.
“Israel must stop shelling, stop bombing, stop killing civilians. That is the only way it can end,” he concluded.