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US provides political protection for Israeli massacres: Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh

April 21, 2024 at 11:52 am

Hamas Political Bureau Chairman Ismail Haniyeh speaks during an exclusive interview with Anadolu in Istanbul, Turkiye on April 20, 2024 [Cem Tekkeşinoğlu/Anadolu Agency]

Hamas Political Bureau Chief Ismail Haniyeh said Saturday that tens of thousands of people in the Gaza Strip have been killed using US weapons, adding that Washington’s veto against the establishment of a Palestinian state at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) effectively provides political protection for Tel Aviv’s actions.

“The US position is deceptive, even though it says it does not want civilians to be harmed, this is an attempt at manipulation. All the civilians killed in Gaza, thousands, tens of thousands of martyrs, were killed with US weapons, with US rockets, under US political protection. What does the US veto of the ceasefire resolution at the UNSC mean? It means that the US is giving full protection and umbrella to the continuation of the massacres and murders against Gaza,” Haniyeh said in an exclusive interview with Anadolu.

He added that the US veto of full UN membership for Palestine shows that Washington has embraced the Israeli position and opposes the rights of the Palestinian people.

Rafah operation could lead to massacre

Haniyeh warned against a possible military operation by the Israeli army in Rafah and said that it could lead to a massacre against the Palestinian people.

“I call on all brotherly countries, our brothers in Egypt, our brothers in Turkiye, our brothers in Qatar as mediators, and the European countries to take action to restrain (Israeli) aggression and prevent the operation in Rafah, as well as the complete withdrawal (of the Israeli army) from the Gaza Strip and the end of the attacks on Gaza,” he said.

Regarding the resistance of the Palestinian people, Haniyeh said “If the Zionist enemy enters into Rafah, Palestinian people will not raise the white flag. The resistance fighters in Rafah are ready to defend themselves and resist attacks.”

Negotiations with Israel

Emphasising that Israel has not accepted a ceasefire in Gaza despite all the negotiations as dozens of proposals have been submitted through mediators, Haniyeh said: “All it wants is to take back the prisoners and then restart the war in Gaza, and this is not possible. The Israeli army must completely withdraw from Gaza. Israel also does not want the displaced people to return to northern Gaza. It accepts a limited and gradual return. It is unacceptable.”

He emphasized that Israel proposed a small number of people for a prisoner exchange despite having arrested nearly 14,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza since 7 October.

“It is Israel and the US, which does not exert any pressure (on Israel), and, that is preventing an agreement from being reached. As soon as Israel accepts these demands, we will be ready to reach the agreement” he added.

Gaza governance after war

Haniyeh stated that Gaza will be governed by Palestinians when the fighting ends.

“Hamas is not insisting on being the sole authority in the administration of Gaza, but we are part of the Palestinian people and can establish a national unity government on a partnership basis and agree on the administration of Gaza. These are national issues. We will not allow the situation of Palestine in Gaza, the West Bank, or both to be regulated by occupiers or anyone else,” he said.

Haniyeh said alternatives regarding the administration of Gaza have been proposed, but success for the alternatives is not possible.

“We made a two-stage call for the regulation of Palestinian domestic politics. The first stage consists of the reorganisation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) to include all Palestinian groups. The second stage involves the establishment of a national government that will undertake the reconstruction of Gaza and unify the institutions in the West Bank and Gaza under one roof, and ensure the holding of presidential, legislative, and national council elections,” he said.

Haniyeh underlined that Gaza is a national part of Palestine, indicating that Hamas expects the national consensus government covering Gaza and the West Bank to govern after the war.

Erdogan’s support for Palestinian cause

Haniyeh noted that his visit to Turkiye took place in the context of the historical and distinguished relations between Turkiye and Palestine, stating that he held an important meeting for about two hours with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan.

He said they made a comprehensive statement regarding Israel’s attacks on Gaza and what Palestinians have been experiencing for nearly seven months.

Haniyeh stated that the group conveyed its insistence to Erdogan on genocide against the Palestinian people, ongoing negotiations for a ceasefire and Hamas and resistance groups’ demands for “a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, the complete withdrawal of Israel from the Gaza Strip, the return of displaced persons to their homes, reconstruction, lifting of the blockade and reaching a prisoner exchange agreement.”

The Hamas leader praised Erdogan’s support for the Palestinian cause. “President Erdogan’s statement during the Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) group meeting where he described Hamas as the National liberation movement and likened it to the Kuva-i Milliye (National Forces), is undoubtedly a source of pride for us and the Palestinian people,” he said.

Erdogan had said in the party’s group meeting: “Hamas is what Kuva-i Milliye (National Forces active during the Turkish War of Independence between 1918 – 1921) was in Turkiye during the National Struggle. We definitely know that saying this will come with a price.”

Haniyeh said: “Hamas is a movement that resists to liberate our lands, sacred values, and people from historical occupation.”

Highlighting Turkiye’s historical ties to the Palestinian cause due to its regional and Islamic position, Haniyeh said Erdogan’s remarks reflect the conscience of the Turkish people, who consider the Palestinian cause as their own, empathise with Gaza from a humanitarian perspective and stand against oppression.

He underlined the need to unite efforts to stop the attacks of the Zionists, who remain standing with US support.

READ: 48 more Palestinians killed in Gaza as Israeli onslaught continues: Health Ministry

Haniyeh also praised the Turkish people’s intellectual, historical and political stance on the Palestinian cause.

“We still remember President Erdogan lifting the map of Palestine during his speech at the UN and explaining how Palestine was gradually occupied in response to Shimon Peres,” he said. “We closely monitor Turkiye’s position in the region, its regional and international policies, and its stance on the Palestinian cause and Gaza with great importance.”

“We still remember how the Turkish people sacrificed martyrs on the Mavi Marmara for the lifting of the blockade in Gaza,” Haniyeh said, adding that Turkiye maintains a consistent stance on the Palestinian cause and the Gaza blockade.

“During our meeting with Erdogan, we discussed the decisions taken regarding commercial restrictions on Israel and their effects on commercial activity,” he said.

“This is an important step against the Zionist enemies who shed the blood of women, children and elderly Palestinians in attacks on Gaza, threaten Rafah with land attacks and disrespect Muslim holy sites, especially Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem,” he added.

Israel’s uncompromising attitude

Haniyeh noted that while Hamas showed flexibility in negotiations, Israel took an uncompromising stance, attributing the failure and interruption of talks to the attitude.

He said the group was informed during the meeting about Ankara’s political and diplomatic efforts at the regional and international levels to stop the attacks on Gaza, aid sent to Gaza through the Rafah border crossing and Turkiye’s decisions regarding recent trade with Israel.

Haniyeh also said that they discussed the danger awaiting al-Aqsa Mosque due to the upcoming Passover in Israel, and evaluated developments in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Crimes committed by Israel in Gaza

Haniyeh said Israel, which first heavily bombed Gaza from the air and before entering by land, adopted a strategy based on killing, as well as imposed military and humanitarian blockade — destroying hospitals, schools, infrastructure, bakeries, pharmacies and factories.

“For over five months, nothing entered Gaza. Hunger was used as a weapon to break the people’s will and to pressure them to migrate from north to south. It is a very difficult situation in terms of both the number of martyrs and wounded, as well as those trapped under the rubble. There are thousands of martyrs buried under the rubble. Every day we discover new mass graves,” he said.

“Tortures, executions, crimes committed in prisons … Israel does not even allow the UN and The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to operate — they want to shut down UNRWA,” noted Haniyeh.

He highlighted that to reach an agreement, at least 500 trucks need to enter Gaza daily for the reconstruction of hospitals, bakeries, infrastructure and shelters.

Haniyye said that he discussed these issues also with Erdogan during the meeting.

Reflections of Gaza war on other fronts

“The ability of Palestinian resistance to cope with the field conditions and security developments is high. This resistance has proven to be the strong and unyielding will of our people,” Haniyeh underlined.

“The enemy will not be able to break this weapon, this flag, this will, the spirit of resistance, and this determination,” he said.

Underlining that this is also true for Palestinians in the West Bank, Haniyeh said, “We constantly witness renewed resistance in different areas of the West Bank, and likewise, there are resistance fronts in Lebanon.”

“The Zionist enemy wanted to focus on the Gaza Strip in the war. However, due to the integration between the resistance forces in Lebanon, which became part of this struggle, and resistance groups in Palestine, it failed to achieve this. Indeed, there is almost a similar war in southern Lebanon between the occupying state Israel and the Islamic resistance (Hezbollah) in Lebanon and Palestinian resistance groups,” according to Haniyeh.

He noted that Yemen is also exerting serious pressure on ships heading to Israel through the Red Sea.

“This has clear effects on the Israeli economy and the economy of companies and ships doing business with it,” he said.

Referring to attacks between Iran and Israel, Haniyeh said the conflict has spread to Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Syria, and then to Iran, and is gradually spreading in the region, all of which are related to Israel’s continued attacks and genocide in Gaza.

Haniyeh underlined that once the attacks on Gaza cease, tranquility is expected to prevail in the region.

He held Israel responsible for developments that occurred following the attack on the Iranian Embassy in Syria.

“Everyone expected that Iran would not remain silent in the face of this attack, which directly affects its sovereignty. This situation may indicate that the occupying Israel may have understood or misunderstood Iran’s previously mentioned policy of ‘strategic patience,’” he said. “Everyone was expecting a response from Iran. However, it is up to Iran to decide what the response will be as well as its volume, dimension and scope.”

‘Netanyahu does not want to end the war in Gaza’

Regarding Iran-Israel tension, Haniyeh said: “All of this indicates two things. Netanyahu does not want to end the war in Gaza. On the contrary, he wants to expand its framework for a regional war. Similarly, they want the Americans to be part of the military front against Iran, and a part of the military wing that serves Israel.”

“The Zionist enemy is responsible for this tension and regional escalation, denying the rights of our people, continuing to attack our people, our sanctities, especially Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa, and continuing the genocidal war in Gaza,” he added.

Zionists have had past ambitions for Al-Aqsa

Haniyeh underlined that Zionists and radical Jews have had ambitions for Al-Aqsa in the past.

“We witnessed the burning of Al-Aqsa in 1969. Then came the attacks, massacres, raids, efforts to change the status of Al-Aqsa, followed by efforts to divide Al-Aqsa temporally and spatially, and plans to sacrifice at Al-Aqsa,” he noted

Haniyeh said the Israeli government under Benjamin Netanyahu prioritises changing the historical, cultural and intellectual Islamic landmarks in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa.

“In recent days, we hear calls from Israeli ministers and religious authorities to sacrifice at Al-Aqsa during the Jewish holiday. They have set rewards for those who will sacrifice at Al-Aqsa. This is disrespect to the sanctity of Al-Aqsa,” he said.

Haniyeh urged all Palestinians and the Islamic ummah to take action to protect Al-Aqsa — the first qibla of the Muslims.

Touching on the Al-Aqsa Flood operation launched by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades the military wing of Hamas, against Israeli violations at Al-Aqsa, Haniyeh said: “The operation was launched for Al-Aqsa, Jerusalem, and especially for the sanctities of the ummah.”

“The ummah should not allow these efforts to go in vain. These are the inheritances left to Muslims from their prophets. Jews have no right whatsoever over Al-Aqsa,” said Haniyeh.

‘Israel should not go unpunished’

Regarding South Africa’s filing a lawsuit against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Haniyeh said, “I want to send greetings to South Africa, which filed a lawsuit against Israel and brought the occupying state and its occupier leaders to the ICJ for the first time since the Nakba.”

“We see this as a very important step. The ICJ should continue its steps to stop the massacre in Gaza, ensure the entry of necessary humanitarian aid to Gaza, and bring Israeli officials to justice as war criminals, Holocaust criminals, and perpetrators of massacres against the Palestinian people,” he noted.

“Israel has been committing massacres for years, and these massacres go unpunished. This time, Israel should not go unpunished for these brutal massacres, crimes, and assassinations,” he added.

‘Israel imposing media blackout’

Assessing the media’s stance on Gaza, Haniyeh stated that there is good attention and support for what is happening in Gaza in the Turkish, Arab and global media.

He stressed that Israel is imposing a significant media blackout and preventing foreign media members from entering the region to prevent the exposure of its crimes and atrocities from being brought to the attention of the world’s public opinion.

Haniyeh urged Turkish media and other outlets to continue exposing Israel’s crimes, highlighting the dimensions of the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza, and breaking Israel’s media blackout.

Following his meeting with Erdogan in Istanbul, he told Anadolu it is the first time he has spoken to an international media organisation since 7 October.

Killing of his children

Haniyeh noted the attack in which his sons and grandchildren were killed and said it reflected three points: “Firstly, the enemy’s failure to achieve military targets for seven months, except for killing civilians, thousands of children, women, and the elderly. Therefore, the massacre carried out during the holiday in which three of my sons and five of my grandchildren were killed is also included in this context and highlights the failure of the enemy.

“The second aspect is the misconception that such a massacre reaching my home, my children, and grandchildren will exert pressure on the leader and the leadership of the movement to make concessions in the ongoing negotiations, which is misleading. Thirdly, my sons are part of the Palestinian people, and their situation is the same as that of the Palestinian people. From the very beginning, I said that the blood of my sons is no more valuable than the children of the Palestinian people in Gaza, the West Bank, or anywhere else,” he said.

Haniyeh added that all martyrs in Gaza, the West Bank, or abroad, are his children,

“Therefore, we are equal in rights, duties, and sacrifices. We accept these with steadfastness, determination and unwavering will. Regardless of the cost and the sacrifices required, we will continue on this path,” he said.

Haniyeh expressed gratitude to the Turkish people for holding funeral prayers in absentia for his children and grandchildren in more than 30 cities.

He said the situation in other countries like Pakistan is evidence of the unity of the ummah and the unity of the ummah’s feelings.

READ: Civil defence teams reach bodies of Palestinians amid Israeli attack on Rafah