US provides political protection to Israeli massacres, says Hamas chief

International Desk Published: 21 April 2024, 08:41 PM | Updated: 21 April 2024, 08:41 PM
US provides political protection to Israeli massacres, says Hamas chief
Photo: Anadolu Agency

Hamas Political Bureau Chief Ismail Haniyeh said on Saturday that tens of thousands of people in Gaza have been killed by Israel using US weapons, adding that Washington's veto against the establishment of a Palestinian state in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) effectively provides political protection to 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 cease-fire resolution at the UNSC mean? It means that the US is giving full protection and umbrella to the continuation of the massacres and murders in Gaza,” Haniyeh said in an exclusive interview with Anadolu.

He added that the US veto of the full membership of the state of Palestine at the UN 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, saying that this could lead to a massacre of the Palestinian people.

“I call on all brotherly countries, our brothers in Egypt, our brothers in Türkiye, 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 ensure the complete withdrawal (of the Israeli army) from the Gaza Strip and end to attacks on Gaza.”

Speaking about the resistance of the Palestinian people, Haniyeh said: “If the Zionist enemy enters 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

“We agreed to negotiations, but on the condition that attacks on the Palestinian people be stopped,” Haniyeh said, explaining the reason why they agreed to negotiate with Israel.

“But the condition is that these negotiations must result in a 'permanent cease-fire, a complete withdrawal of troops and the return of the displaced people and a prisoner exchange agreement.”

Emphasizing that Israel has not accepted a cease-fire in Gaza despite all the negotiations held so far with dozens of proposals submitted through mediators, Haniyeh said: "All it (Israel) 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 proposes a small number of people for prisoner exchange, though it has arrested nearly 14,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza since Oct. 7.

“It is 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.

Governance of Gaza after war

Declaring that Gaza will be governed by Palestinians, Haniyeh said: “Hamas is not insisting on being the sole authority governing 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.”

Haniyeh said that some alternatives regarding the administration of Gaza have been proposed, but success in these alternatives is not possible.

"Gaza is governed by Palestinians. 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 stated.

"We made a two-stage call for the regulation of Palestinian domestic politics. The first stage consists of the reorganization of the Palestine Liberation Organization (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 they expect the national consensus government covering Gaza and the West Bank to govern Gaza after the war.

Erdogan’s support for Palestinian cause

Haniyeh noted that the visit to Türkiye took place in the context of the historical and distinguished relations between Türkiye and Palestine, stating that they held an important meeting lasting about 2 hours with the participation of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan.

During the meeting, he said that they made a comprehensive statement regarding Israel's attacks on Gaza and what the Palestinian people have been experiencing for the past seven months.

He stated that they conveyed their concerns and sentiments to Erdogan on genocide against the Palestinian people, the ongoing negotiations for a cease-fire, and Hamas and resistance groups' demands for "a permanent cease-fire 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,” Haniyeh 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 Türkiye 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 Türkiye’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, empathize 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.

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 Türkiye'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 Türkiye 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 negotiations to this uncompromising attitude.

He also stated that they were informed during the meeting about Ankara’s political and diplomatic efforts at the regional and international levels to stop the attacks on Gaza, the aid sent to Gaza through the Rafah Border Crossing, and Türkiye’s decisions regarding trade with Israel in recent times.

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

Crimes committed by Israel in Gaza

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

"For over 5 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," Haniyeh noted.

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.

Haniyeh said that he discussed these issues also with Erdogan during their meeting.

Reflection 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 the Palestinian people in the West Bank, he 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.

Haniyeh noted that Yemen is also exerting serious pressure on ships heading to Israel through the Red Sea, saying: "This has clear effects on the Israeli economy and the economy of companies and ships doing business with it."

Referring to the attacks between Iran and Israel, Haniyeh stated that the conflict 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.

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

Haniyeh held Israel responsible for the developments 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.'

“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," Haniyeh explained.

‘Netanyahu does not want to end war in Gaza’

Regarding the 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 Americans to be part of the military front against Iran, and a part of the military wing that serves Israel."

"The Zionist enemy (Israel) 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’ ambitions over Al-Aqsa’

Haniyeh underlined that Zionists and radical Jews have had ambitions over Al-Aqsa, saying: "We witnessed the burning of Al-Aqsa in 1969. Then came the attacks, massacres, raids, and efforts to change the status of Al-Aqsa, followed by efforts to divide Al-Aqsa temporally and spatially, and plans to offer sacrifices at Al-Aqsa."

He said that the Israeli government, under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, prioritizes 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 offer sacrifices 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.

The Hamas leader called on all Palestinians and the Islamic Ummah to take action to protect Al-Aqsa, the first Qibla of 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,” he said.

‘Israel should not go unpunished this time’

Speaking about South Africa's 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 into 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.

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 Turkish, Arab, and global media.

He stressed that Israel is imposing a significant media blackout and barring foreign press members from entering the region to prevent its crimes and atrocities committed in Gaza from being brought to the attention of the world.

The Hamas leader called on the Turkish media and other media outlets to continue exposing Israel's crimes, highlighting the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza, and breaking Israel's media blackout.

Following his meeting with President Erdogan in Istanbul, Haniyeh spoke exclusively to Anadolu, stating that this is the first time he has spoken to an international press organization since Oct. 7.

Killing of Haniyeh's children

Haniyeh also mentioned the attack in which his sons and grandchildren lost their lives, stating that 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 (Eid) 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 not more valuable than the children of the Palestinian people in Gaza, the West Bank, or anywhere else,” he said.

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

He stated that this situation in other countries like Pakistan is evidence of the unity of the Ummah.

Source: Anadolu Agency