During his first meeting with foreign reporters, Head of Hamas Political Bureau in Gaza Yahya al-Sinwar said on Thursday that “Palestinian people have been displaced and oppressed for the seventh decade.”
He added: “Israel has acted as a state above the law and has been ignoring the international law. The international community failed to push it to respect the international legitimacy regarding the Palestinians cause.”
The Hamas leader continued: “Namely, the Gaza Strip has been subject to more oppression since 2006 as the Israeli siege has turned the life of Gaza residents to unbearable hell. A lot of facilities and infrastructure in Gaza had been destroyed and the UN has said that Gaza will be unliveable by 2020. All of this was a punishment for our people over its free democratic choice in 2006 elections.”
Regarding the great March of Return, he said: “The Palestinians stepped up on March 30 to achieve several goals; the fist is to reiterate the right to return, which was guaranteed by the international law, reject the US recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israeli occupation, reject moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, to immediately and unconditionally lift the siege on Gaza.”
Al-Sinwar stressed that the demonstrations of the Great March of Return have been and will remain peaceful. “These demonstrations will not end unless after achieving a dignified life, so that they could continue after 14 and 15 May,” he said.
Regarding the removal of the fence in the east of Gaza, he said: “This is not an internationally-recognised borders. Based on the Armistice Agreement, Gaza has more than 200km square behind the fence. In addition, our people have the right to break the walls of its big prison. The problem is not with our people, but with the occupation.”
The top Hamas leader in Gaza confirmed that Hamas believe in seeking “peaceful and diplomatic” solutions for the Palestinians, but if this was proved effective; otherwise, “we have all other legal forms of resistance.”
Responding to a question that Hamas uses the money of the Palestinian in Gaza to improve its military capabilities, he said: “The problem of the Gaza residents is the Israeli siege, which destroyed all forms of decent life. If the Gazans were given the chance to improve their life since the 2006 elections, they would have reached a better situation than this tragic one.
“Then, the money used by Hamas was sent donated especially by people or countries for the purpose of promoting resistance capabilities. All the money sent to the people was distributed to them. In addition, Hamas has been trying to help the Palestinians to palliate their sufferings in the light of the difficult living situation.”
About the reconciliation, Al-Sinwar said that it is still a “strategic choice” for his movement. “We exerted much efforts to achieve it, but there are parties do not want it to succeed and they did their best to obstruct it. The attempts to assassinate Brigadier General Tawfiq abu-Naim om 2017 and Mr Rami Hamadallah six weeks ago were part of the effort to sabotage the reconciliation. We did not lose hope to achieve it.”
Regarding the Palestinian National Council (PNC), he said that it does not represent the Palestinian people, noting that Hamas along with the other factions would continue working to reach a consensus PNC meeting and make the PLO a house that include all the Palestinians. “This is a national duty and we want to maintain it,” he said, stressing that Hamas does not intend to create new other bodies to replace the historic Palestinian ones.
Speaking about the Israeli captives in Gaza, he said that the resistance and he himself, who spent 25 years in Israeli prison, know very well the meaning to be a captive. “However, we have 6,000 prisoners inside the Israeli jails experiencing unhuman circumstances and they have no hope to be released except through a prisoner swap.”
To know about how Hamas deals with its prisoners, he told the journalists, “you can go and ask Jilad Shalit who spent five years in Hamas captivity.”
About the Israeli aggression on Iran, he said that it supported the Palestinian resistance. “We condemn any aggression on any of the Arab, Islamic or any other state without reasons,” he said, “however, we decide whether to take part in such a conflict or not based on our interests.” In addition, he said, Iran knows whether we are able to be part of this conflict or not.
How can Hamas balance its relations regarding Saudi and Egypt versus Iran, Qatar and Turkey? “Our interests define our relations with the different nations and we do our best to maintain balanced relations with all countries,” he said.
Al-Sinwa concluded his speech, stressing on the important role the mass media plays in the conflicts. “We believe that your cameras might save the life of thousands of people and might prevent many massacres before they take place,” he said, “therefore, we believe that these cameras were the break that prevented the Israeli occupation from using much more of the lethal forces against the peaceful protesters in Gaza.”