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10.01.2021 16:15
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Hamas chief accuses Arab states that normalize ties with Israel of being isolated from their people

"There are some states that recognize Israel's existence, but I can say that these countries are isolated from their people. The people are still linked with and support the Palestinian cause and will neither accept the occupation, nor accept its legitimacy on Palestinian land, Jerusalem, al-Aqsa and the sacred sites," Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said in his comments to A News.

Sajida Mikati: Doctor Ismail Haniyeh, Head of Hamas Political Bureau, welcome to A News, we are so glad to welcome you here today. I want to start my interview by asking you about the latest attack on Gaza and al-Aqsa's "Operation Sword,'' which began as a protest in support of defending the al-Aqsa mosque from Israeli violations. Do you want to send the message to Israel that if they wish to attack al-Aqsa, they will be met by rockets? How do you judge your decision over the ongoing violations?

♦ In the name of God, yes, the last battle was for Jerusalem and al-Aqsa. In support of our families in Sheikh Jarrah, the resistance imposed a new formula in terms of resistance in Jerusalem. All parties who mediated for ceasefire know that Jerusalem, for us, is a red line and we will not permit any levels of aggression against either the city or al-Aqsa holy mosque.

♦ Israel is trying to turn back the clock, by returning to the idea of intrusions in order to control Jerusalem and al-Ibrahimi mosque in Khalil. I think they are delusional.

♦ The Palestinian people, who derive their religious and historical rights from the Muslim and Arab ummah and their position on Jerusalem, will not give up or ignore the results of Operation Sword against al-Aqsa.

♦ We will not permit the enemy to snatch victory or undercut the results of this operation. Our people continue to resist in the squares around al-Aqsa, Khalil and all over Palestine. Plus, the resistance in Gaza will continue to monitor any developments over both the al-Aqsa mosque and all Islamic and Christian sacred sites.

Ahead of the Israeli violations, do you think Israel sought to drive Hamas into a new war?

♦ First of all, we do not fear war and we are in an opening battle with the enemy and are sure that the resistance inside Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem is an upright, active and lively one. We responded to this battle with the enemy with a high degree of control – and chose the time and place so as to assure that the resistance remains open, is continuous and permanent and will not be undermined according to time or place for as long as there is occupation and Jerusalem is occupied.

Over the last war, we saw a changing in the rules of engagement; Hamas showed military development in rocket production after Israel's Iron Dome failed to intercept all the Qassam rockets, which succeeded in breaking through. How did you make this achievement after years under siege?

♦ This testifies to the creativity of the resistance and the Palestinians – our ability to face challenges, which naturally emanate from our capabilities – even when under siege in Gaza. Thanks to the rockets, resistance factions and engineering ideas, these weapons were developed, allowing for a force to challenge the tide of terror brought by the Zionist enemy.

♦ There is no doubt that what happened in the last Jerusalem operation drew the eyes of the world. The world witnessed this beleaguered resistance hitting Tel Aviv everywhere from the occupied Palestinian land and imposing the rules of engagement to maintain strategic management of the battle. A new equation has been imposed; neither the Iron Dome – nor any other system – can stop the resistance's rockets or undermine them in any way.

♦ Behind the resistance rockets stands a man with a solid backbone, who embraces this resistance. Our Palestinian people, both inside and outside, were united behind the resistance during this battle. The Arabic and Islamic people, the free people around the world stood wıth the Palestinian resistance, and I think that the accumulation of force will continue, and any new foolishness from the Israeli occupation against Jerusalem or Gaza, then the world could see something different than what was seen in the sword of al-Aqsa battle.

Gaza is under siege and in dire need of humanitarian aid to rebuild the strip after the last war, which caused huge swathes of destruction. This aid faces difficulty entering Gaza. Are there any Arab states trying to halt the entrance of this aid to use as tools in order to impose a new political reality?

♦ The Israeli crossings were closed after the last battle, and Israelis wanted to control the rebuild movement and blackmail the resistance and Hamas over reconstruction issues in exchange for Israeli prisoners, who are detained by the al-Qassam movement. However, the results showed Israel did not succeed in imposing this equation. I think the wheels of reconstruction have gain traction in the strip.

The Arab world has witnessed a rush to normalize with Israel. Has this normalization negatively affected the resistance and the Palestinian cause?

♦ For the Palestinian resistance, the normalization has had no impact. The resistance was built under complicated circumstances, including the existence of the occupation and the siege, but the resistance is ongoing and continues to rise and accumulate.

♦ Any impacts on the Palestinian cause are just formalities. There are some states that recognize Israel's existence, but I can say that these countries are isolated from their people. The people are still linked with and support the Palestinian cause and will neither accept the occupation, nor accept its legitimacy on Palestinian land, Jerusalem, al-Aqsa and the sacred sites. Therefore, the impact of this normalization is secondary – however, despite that, we are against the normalization and we demand these countries back out of these agreements without sacrificing the Palestinian cause for underhand and short-term goals that are temporary and will not last.

You have announced that a new prisoner deal is coming and that the six Palestinian prisoners, who escaped from Jalbouh prison will be at the top of the list. What can you tell us about this deal and where it's going?

♦ There are lots of countries who have intervened and worked to reach a new exchange deal. At the forefront of these countries includes our brother, Egypt, and there are other countries working on this issue. We welcome any work and effort that can break the siege of our prisoners and reach an honourable deal on this issue.

♦ During my encounters on trips to Turkey, we have talked about this issue in meetings and welcomed any Turkish role in the scope of indirect negotiations with the occupation to reach an exchange deal. I can't say whether there have been any tangible, real developments, due to the Israeli situation and hesitate to say if there has been any change with this new Israeli government. However, regardless of whether the day is long or short, we strive to liberate our prisoners. The prisoners held by al-Qassam will see the light when our prisoners see the light of freedom and light of day.

The people and government of Turkey are very supportive of the Palestinian cause. How would you describe Palestines' relations with Turkey?

♦ Our relations with Turkey are excellent on all levels, both formal and with the people. We have always expressed our gratitude for our political and humanitarian relations and for support on decisions in all regional and international forums towards the Palestinian cause – especially regarding al-Quds and the seige on Gaza.

♦ We are indebted to Turkey for those slain on the Marmara during the Freedom Flotilla raid and the nine martyrs who rose to break the siege in Gaza. We say that they are Turkish, but also that martyrs of Palestine, who fought as martyrs to end the siege on Gaza.

♦ We have excellent relations with our brothers in Turkey and our contact and meetings continue. We are always looking for anything related to the cause to further developments.

Do you have any message that you want to deliver before ending this interview?

♦ Thank you for this interview and for this meeting. I want to express my appreciation for your monitoring of the situation regarding the Palestinian cause, the siege, the blackouts and the attempt to suppress the Palestinian narrative. You represent our voice and our perspective to the world – and you deliver our narrative, so we express our thanks and appreciation.