Hi, how are you?
Nir, your name is Nir?
- Israeli Military Chief Warns: Explosive, Sensitive Situation Developing, Especially Among Palestinians
- How Many Palestinians Live in Gaza and the West Bank? It's Complicated
- The Man Who Tries, and Fails, to Buy All of Israel's Bread Products Each Passover
Gontarz. Can you tell me a little bit about Hamas' plans for this holiday season in Israel?
What do you mean, holiday season in Israel?
To the best of my knowledge, there’s supposed to be a march to the fence [on the Gaza-Israel border] during the Passover holiday in Israel, and after that on Independence Day, your Nakba Day.
Is Hamas moving from military action to civil action?
Actually, Mr. Nir, it is not Hamas who made the decision, but the youth. The main idea was thought up by the youth. There are people who think there is no hope, no future, and that we have to do something – ya'ani, to remind the whole world that we as Palestinians are still suffering, we are still living in the diaspora or in refugee camps, and there's a certain decision by the United Nations, [Resolution] UN 194, that we are trying to implement, ya'ani, and to send a message to the world community that our problem is not solved and we’re still suffering, and continue to see our land being abused by the occupation, or Israelis trying to squeeze us to the corner, punishing the Palestinians, and this is something that this generation of Palestinians is not going to accept. And so they’re doing their own civil march, they don’t intend to do anything belligerent, and I think this is the message they would like to carry to the whole world, about the situation and the suffering in Gaza.
Right. Can you estimate how many young people and citizens of Gaza will come to this march? Because in the Israeli media it's being described as a huge deal.
People are talking with confidence about more than half a million, ya'ani, something like this. I don’t know if they’re going to reach that number or not. But at least they will send a strong message about the situation the disaster, it has become a disaster, the situation has been deteriorating here in Gaza because of sanctions and the fact that Gaza is under a closure, how the disaster became the situation here in Gaza. It's all about the message that we want to send, [a message] that Israel will get, the international community will get, and anyone who is looking, people in the region, from Arab and Muslim countries – that we Palestinians are still under occupation, and we’re still suffering from that occupation as well as from Israeli aggression in Gaza, and from what the Israelis are committing when they hold Gaza under siege. It is a crime against humanity.
I see. And Hamas will take part in this march? I understood that
I think everyone has been invited to participate. It’s not a factional march. Everyone has been invited to participate and mobilize, to be part of this message that we all would like to send to the whole world.
Okay, and the plans are to cross the border to the other side?
No, no, no, no one is talking about crossing the border. No. It will take place inside the area. It's something that can take place near the border, not too close to the border, but it can be in the buffer zone, or near the border. We will hold various activities, singing, folklore performances, Palestinian folklore.
It sounds like Woodstock.
Something like this, ya'ani, that would attract the attention of the media to the fact that we Palestinians are still living on this land, and are still suffering. At least that’s the message that the people in Gaza would like to send, and of course the media will cover the events, and we hope that foreign journalists will come and listen to what the Palestinians have been telling about their narrative, about the whole story
Is there a chance that I, as an Israeli reporter, can cross the border to Gaza and cover it?
To be honest with you, I don’t think this is something easy to do and also I don’t think Israel will let an Israeli cross to Gaza, it’s risky for them It's something that needs to happen within some sort of arrangement. But I don’t think it is a good idea right now because there is still tension in the relations between us.
Listen, usually Hamas doesn’t speak with the Israeli government. Sometimes, with the help of a third party, Hamas does speak with the Israeli government. I’m asking, would you like to convey a message to the people of Israel – to the people, not the government?
I would like to publish an article. I think I once wrote an article but it was stopped by our people here. But I may consider writing an article about these kinds of things
In one sentence, is there anything you would like to say to people in Israel?
I can tell them, look, you’ve suffered a lot as Jews around the world, and there were issues of suffering and agony in Spain or Europe. You were treated badly in Europe during the war and also during the inquisition in Spain. Don’t repeat what you have suffered. You are causing the Palestinians suffering by pushing them to the wall. This land, Palestine, is the holy land for all the people of Abrahamic faiths, who lived together through history for centuries. I think we can all live here in this land – Muslims, Christians and Jews – in this blessed land Allah chose for all the good people of Palestine, Muslims, Jews and Christians. This is my message to the Jewish community in Israel or to the Jewish people in Israel.
Okay, Dr. Yousef. Thank you very much for speaking with me.
Nir, could you send me your email or phone number so if I would like to write an article, I would know where to send it? And convey my regards to Gideon Levy, I've read his articles, I respect him and all the people who write fairly about the Palestinian issue in Haaretz.
I’ll send you my email by Whatsapp.
Okay, thank you very much, Nir.