The following is the first part of an interview I conducted with Dr. Khaled Qadomi, the representative of the Hamas Movement in Iran. We discussed many issues fundamental to the Palestinian struggle.
Q: Firstly, what is Hamas’s overall strategy for the liberation of Palestine? How does it plan to achieve this? Does it plan to achieve it by conventional warfare, guerrilla warfare, or another means?
A: Let us first define terminologies. For us if you talk about something called “conventional war”, that does not fit with the groups or movements which do not have even an independent state, so here in our case we are talking about the concept of low-intensity warfare or what has been known as “guerrilla war” or “fedayeen war” or something like that, sort of like the Vietnamese against the American invasion. This is what we call “harakat al-tahrir” or movement of liberation, against colonials and against occupation. That is one.
So if we talk about the main concept for us in the movement, and I would say even for us as Palestinians, for us, the Israeli entity is an enemy, the Israeli entity has nothing to do, historically, religiously or culturally, with our area, with historical Palestine. And we believe that they were alien and that they are aliens, and they have nothing to do with whatever fabricated concepts from their minds about Palestine (the chosen people, the promised land) that does not match with any modern concepts. It is simply a neocolonial project embodied in the entity of Israel, that was created by the assistance and the strategies of western powers in our region. They implanted a forefront body by the name of Israeli entity, to represent the neocolonial aspects of the western powers in our region.
That is the concept of Israel itself; we should not be misguided, or leave any ambiguity on that. This is the bottom line where we wish to initiate any debate or discussions; that Israel is an alien entity; that Israel is a western forefront project in our region, a neocolonial military, politically, socially and culturally stained entity that represents the hegemonic powers of the neocolonials in our region.
Having said that, you are in two scenarios to address such an entity. We, Palestinians believe that we are oppressed, our rights have been snatched and taken by force, since a century after the completion of the British Mandate of 1918, with the help of those colonial powers, they facilitated the migration of those alien figures that have no relation with our land, with fabricated history, with fabricated theories about our own homeland that is Palestine, and they want to impose, as colonial behaviour, changing the history and fabricating facts; introducing good laminated paper book in the market, fill the shelves of libraries and bookshops with those fabricated lies about our homeland.
Hence, we are in front of, as I said, two scenarios. Either we go with the international law, or we go on own, because simply the international community did not even respect their own words, their own laws, against the occupiers in Palestine, and let me elaborate on that. My point is that whenever we want to discuss something we need to resort to some frame of reference, to have some methodology or framework in order to discuss it, otherwise we shall be lost. We shouldn’t talk double standards, we shouldn’t talk in double languages.
So let’s say for the sake of debate that we will believe in something called international law, or what is so-called in another lexicon “international legitimacy”. The British Mandate finished and they put the case of Palestine to the League of Nations, and later on it was taken up by the United Nations (UN), and the Partition Resolution 191 [correction: 181] was issued in 1947, says explicitly that there should be two states, one for Arabs, that is Palestine, on 45% of the land of historical Palestine, and another state for the Jews, that is Israel, and this is the text of the resolution I am referring to, you can check and correct me if I am wrong, on 55% or whatever percent, for what is meant to be called Israel, and Jerusalem is meant to be an international city, it will be open and it will be a capital for both.¹
Now; where is that Palestinian state on 45% of the land of historical Palestine? Today we ended up with something called (the accords of) Madrid, Oslo, etc, those “peace talks”, talking about islets inside 18% of historical Palestine, that is the West Bank and Gaza, where they are further divided into A Zones, B Zones and C Zones. Those areas which were occupied in 1948 by force by the aliens, and has been confiscated, they are not even up for negotiation, not on the table, and then Jerusalem, according to the Israelis, is an eternal, unified capital of Israel, and then the Palestinians are left within 18%, and then the remaining 78%, 80% or 80%+, according to Israel, they are non-negotiable, and they should not be brought to the table.
So can you tell me where Palestinians should stand? I’m talking about international law, the international community and international organizations; they do not even respect their own words when they proceed further to implement their own laws. Israel has destroyed those lines, and did not respect any of those laws or decrees, and proceeded further to confiscate 80% of the land of Palestine, and then the remnants of the West Bank and Gaza are called “Palestinian territories”, nothing called a Palestinian state, and until this moment, none of the elders of Israel, none of the officials of Israel, are ready to recognize the right of Palestinians to exist in a sovereign state on one square kilometre of the land, let alone 45% of the land, or 18% (that is A Zone).
I mean it is such a miscalculation, that leaves us with one option, that is nothing relevant with the diplomacy, nothing relevant with diplomatic scenarios or international law. We are left to our own destiny, if the international community is not able to revert to the frame of reference on which we have decided as humanity, then we are left to another law; that we must defend ourselves with whatever available means. I’m not here saying we’re a superpower, but this is one of the integral rights; for us to resist.
Here, this strategy of resistance came with the goal of returning our land, and returning our rights, which have been guaranteed by international law. Hence the strategy is very clear; to achieve the liberation of Palestine from the River to the Sea, that is with the available means.
We believe in a holistic approach to resistance, with a backbone of military resistance, which again has been granted to occupied peoples by international law,² and also along with military resistance, we make use of political resistance, diplomatic resistance, economic resistance, cultural resistance, social resistance and also civilian activities all around the world against the oppressors and the aggressors to achieve one only one goal; to achieve the ultimate liberation of our land. To go back to status quo ante, before the 15th of May 1948, when we had relative peace in the region. And that peace that secured the situation was disturbed by a newly emerged entity, an aggressive entity, a criminal entity called Israel. Since then we have not been able to live any kind of secure or stable live, not only in Palestine, not only in the region, but in the world due to something called the Israeli entity.
Q: Similarly, does Hamas view armed struggle as the only means by which Palestine can be freed, and if so, why?
A: Resistance is a tool. Resistance is a reaction
to the action of aggression which is occupation. Resistance is not a target. And when we talk about resistance, as I said, wise people use the proper and suitable tools which can be effective against their enemies. What we have seen, what we have witnessed is that Israel does not understand any language of peace or negotiation, rather they go for more confiscation of the land, more atrocities against our civilians, more aggression against our Holy Places and Sacred Places, they tell the international community that those Sacred Places are not for Muslims but are for themselves. I mean something very weird and that does not match with any base or ground for discussion.
So we are left again for our destiny of fighting, fighting with all means, that is the military means, the armed means, but also the diplomatic, political and networking means, and then the narrative, the struggle for the narrative, which we have been very clearly winning, especially since the last confrontation between us and Israel in the Battle of Seif al-Quds in Ramadan of 2021. We have witnessed that many in the international community have started to reject the Israeli narrative. We started to witness conferences, even in America, to talk about the apartheid regime, to talk about racial discrimination by Israel against the Palestinians, to talk about Israel’s crimes against humanity, and all that language which has been decided upon by free and rational voices in the world, who have seen what has happened in the world, and have seen how Palestinians are victimized by Israeli atrocities. So this is one of the main tools for us, the narrative. We have been trying to tell the world that this entity is an aggressive entity, that this regime is an oppressive regime. They don’t abide by law, they don’t accept international legitimacy or framework, they don’t even abide by any basic things which have been agreed upon by humanity, or any frame of reference.
But then some people are talking about the military activities of Palestinians? Oh come on! You cannot equate the stone with the tank. You cannot even equate the missiles of the resistance, which are defending their rights in front of huge artillery setups of the Israeli regime which has been supported by all brutal entities in the world. Resistance is through all means, but we have found that the armed struggle is the only meaningful way, that will force Israel to withdraw. This is actually what happened in Gaza in 2005, when Israel withdrew without any deal or conditions, simply because the cost of occupation was high, security wise and economically, and that is the strategy which has been adopted by us.
Secondly then, we will talk about political factions, among other Palestinian factions, with other Palestinian brothers and movements, to form a political program to face our enemy. Thirdly, to enter into good diplomatic relations with friends, or brothers or even members of the international community. So today if you have a look at the relations of the Hamas movement, you will see they are widespread, because of our rational and wise narrative, because we take care of the interests of our people on one hand, and because we want them to live a viable, respectable and independent life, and on the other hand because we are not ready to compromise on our historical rights, legitimate rights of the Palestinians. So we struggle with all means which will harm our enemy, which will put pressure on our enemy to leave and to abide by the legitimate rights of the Palestinians.
Fourth we struggle with the narrative itself, to explain to those members of the international community, at the popular level and the governmental level, that the enemy is a particular type of enemy, it is not a noble enemy, this enemy wants to finish off anything known as Palestine. Just look at the extremist fanatical government which has been formed by Netanyahu, which has gathered all manner of figures, and many of them were wanted by many governments, even the Israeli government in the passed declared Itamar Ben-Gvir to be a terrorist figure, today he is in charge of so-called national security! And we have seen what he is doing in al-Aqsa, in Jerusalem, in the West Bank, against our youngsters and against our civilians.
So yes, this is our way of struggle, our way of resistance.
Q: Hamas was originally formed with strong links with the Muslim Brotherhood. What is Hamas’s relationship with this organization today?
A: Now we are getting on to ideological aspects, and schools of thought of the movement. See, we are a national liberation organization, with Islam, or Islamic deeds, as a frame of reference to our behaviour. We have participated in the popular and civilian activities against occupation, we entered into local elections, we ran charities, we entered into the Palestinian Authority elections, we won and we have the democratic aspects of any good governance in the world. Having said that I want to bring your attention to the concept that being a national liberation organization does not deny that we are proud of our identity as Muslim, that we are proud as having Islam as the religion of peace, tolerance, and justice, the religion that accommodates the humanity in all its aspects, the religion that was gifted to humanity by the almighty Allah.
So this combination between this belief and frame of reference that makes us not diverted, and the democratic, modern, civilian institutional practice of governing by means of democracy, which we are practicing in our own internal organization, and when we deal with our people, such as when we emerged as victorious in the general election of 2006.
Yes, [with regards to] the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen, or the Muslim Brotherhood, we believe that we belong to the same school of thought. However, on the other hand, we consider ourselves as remarkable experience because of the confronting of the occupier, a declared known enemy. So we have different projects, because we are talking about confronting invaders, colonialists.
We don’t have any hierarchical links with the mainstream of the Muslim Brotherhood, but as I said, we have stemmed from the same theories principally, but in implementation, we are engaged in totally different projects and totally different issues. Because it’s not that we are an organization or a party inside of an independent, sovereign state, no. We represent a movement confronting atrocities by colonials, by invaders, as I keep reiterating, this is what gives us a remarkable experience, with a deep brotherly relation and friendship with all Islamic movements that have moderate and tolerant mentalities like the Muslim Brotherhood.
Q: The Hamas movement’s armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, pursues several strategies in its struggle against the occupation. One of the major tactics is the use of rocket fire. Some western observers have characterized these rocket strikes as “terrorist” actions, which, according to them “target civilians”, what is your response to this, and how to the Qassam Rockets fit in with Hamas’s broader strategy for the liberation of Palestine?
A: Let me emphasise a few points. First of all, our institutional laws inside the movement are somewhat different to other organizsations which have deep hierarchical separation between different departments. For us, every aspect of the movement, every aspect of resistance, political and military, and we take our decisions collectively in one body that is called the Political Bureau. Hence I don’t accept the notion that someone has decided something that is different from the decision of one leadership under the Political Bureau.
Secondly we have the painful irony of the terms and phrases of terrorism. I don’t know how you define “civilians”, are settlers, who are living in places declared by the international community as (illegal) occupation forces, who have their own arms, they attack our own people with their pistols, their arms, their live ammunition against our civilians, do you consider them civilians? I don’t know to what extent you will be continuing, not you in person, but the one who asks such questions, with these double standards, on the one hand, the settlements are declared as illegal entities, with their own records of atrocities against our civilians, our farmers, etc.
To defend yourself against these settlers, who are perpetrating such crimes as for instance, the other day (the anniversary of) when they kidnapped a 16 year old boy when he was on his way to the Mosque, they forced him to drink petrol and then they perpetrated arson against him (set him on fire). Do you consider them civilians? Third, we have said it 101 times, if Israel stopped killing our own common men, we would also implement a deal to cease attacks on the so-called Israeli “civilians”.
Fourth, the Israelis have their own smart ammunition, they have their own complicated and sophisticated arsenal, and nevertheless whenever they attack Gaza, whenever they attack our people, they leave a devastating impact against civilian targets. They destroy residential buildings, they attack media outlets, they destroy places of worship, they spare nobody, no animal and no human being. So what exactly is the question to respond to? Don’t ask me not to defend myself.
As I have said throughout the interview, the resistance is a reaction, we did not start any action of atrocity, the occupation IS the action of atrocity. And anything we do as Palestinians, armed, stone, whatever, is under the title of resistance, defending ourselves and is a reaction to the action of occupation. If the international community is ready to give us smart arms, we promise to only attack to military setup of our enemy.
Let us avoid civilian targets, both sides. Just grant me that the Israelis will not attack our civilian targets, and we will agree not to touch so-called Israeli “civilian” targets. Our fighters always avoid civilian targets. In any case where civilians have been harmed, it was never intentionally, it was never planned. This should also go under the frame of reference of reciprocity between us and our enemy.
Q: Similarly, many governments allied with the Israeli occupation characterize Hamas as a “terrorist organization”, can you explain why this is false, and how a liberation movement like yours differs from a terrorist organization like al-Qaeda or Daesh (ISIS)?
A: See brother, it’s very important to know that this stigmatization, or demonization of the liberation movements, is an accusation by the enemies, the Israeli regime itself, those allies who have created this regime a century ago, they try to stigmatize all liberation movements with this accusation of terrorism.
Actually terrorism itself has been defined by them, and unfortunately us in the Arab and Muslim countries don’t have a particular official definition of terrorism. For me Israel is a terrorist state, for me American hegemony and the superpowers’ atrocities against human rights, and the manufacturing of weapons of mass destruction by those superpowers by itself is terrorism. To attack indiscriminately over civilian areas inside Gaza by Israeli bombardments is terrorism, to kill 17 year old boys and girls in Jerusalem and the West Bank is terrorism, so this should be the bottom line where we need to know how to proceed further.
Hence, it’s a political situation. We have a chaotic world order, where we, and when I say we, I mean the easterns, the Third World or developing world, as they try to name it, they are not allowed and not represented in the system of government in the world. The post Second World War system created by the League of Nations and then by the United Nations, where the victors of the war, who are today hegemonic superpowers and are the direct reason of instability and lack of security for the world, those countries are at the top of the decision-making for the destiny of humanity.
We in the east, we in the Arab world, the Islamic world, in the South, I would say, of the Globe, are not represented in that system, hence when they demonize you or stigmatize you with those accusations, we should understand that this is a political approach and nothing relevant to reality.
When the representative or the envoy of the Israeli regime in the United Nations stands and rips the resolutions of UNESCO and the General Assembly and puts it in a dustbin which he has already brought with him in front of everybody and walk out from the hall, and nobody could say anything against him, you should understand that this is a very biased system unfortunately, and we are the victims who are accused to be terrorists.
Do you think that when we defend ourselves with stones, with missiles, with anything, against the Israeli atrocities, we turn into terrorists? This is a very weird and biased narrative, with the enemy, with the oppressors. Daesh, al-Qaeda and those extremists, they don’t represent Islam even, they don’t represent the soul of the teachings of the Prophet of Peace Muhammad (PBUH).
President Donald Trump came to Riyadh after he won the election, and he spoke as if Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, Daesh, he put them in one scale. That indicates explicitly or implicitly, the stories behind demonizing those freedom fighters, liberation movements, who do not have any link to those extremist organizations, rather they are only looking for their rights.
In conclusion, we in Palestine, the Palestinian people, they want to live in peace, and that peace can be achieved by one of two ways; either the international community will understand well how to proceed further to return to the Palestinians their legitimate rights, or the Palestinians will be left to their destiny to defend themselves and fight with all possible means as has been granted by international law. That is what I have to say about the demonization of liberation movements who are struggling for their own integral rights.
Q: What is the position of Hamas on the so-called “two-state solution” which many foreign powers claim to endorse? If Hamas rejects this idea, can you explain why?
A: This is another important question; vis-à-vis the two-state solution or whatever solution has been proposed by third parties, by that I mean neither the Palestinians or the Israeli regime. There are two or three main points I would like to say on this.
First of all we do belive, Palestinians, that we are the victim, and we have nothing to say about whether we agree with this proposal or disagree with that proposal. The one who is holding the trigger is the Israeli state, the Israeli regime. They are the stronger power, they are the nuclear power, they are the power with the weapons of mass destruction, so what to the Palestinians have to say with regard to whether they agree to two-state solution, one-state solution or anything else. I challenge anyone to bring me the official stance of Netanyahu or any Israeli government vis-à-vis the two-state solution, until this moment, nothing, nothing.
They got involved in negotiations with some of the Palestinian sides, and to this moment they do not recognize that negotiating team as Palestinian or as a sovereign Palestinian entity. They do not recognize our right to existence.
The third or second point is why should we go and try the thing that has already been tried? The 1991 Madrid Accords, 1993 Oslo Accords, Wadi Araba (Israel-Jordan treaty) 1994, the 2003 roadmap, and whatnot. What has been achieved for the Palestinians? Today Netanyahu and the extreme government has persons or figures like Ben-Gvir as National Security Minister, who believes in burning and killing Arabs inside Palestine, so what do you expect that we can say about any solution, not only two-state solution but ANY solution, with such an entity? Nothing.
So, what I can tell you today is that there was a consensus among all Palestinians including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc, [was also signed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and Marwan Barghouti of Fatah] in 2006, something called the National Reconciliation Document, which was also known as the Prisoners’ Document,³ which has been signed and endorsed by all Palestinian factions, both those in the PLO and those not in the PLO, they have agreed that we may go for a Palestinian state on the land of 1967, not based on the recognition of Israel, but also based on a temporary peace which can be for xyz years, but I tell you again that Israel did not even bother to look at that document/consensus, the international community did not avail this opportunity to go forward with the Palestinians and we are left in the same place. The Israelis are gaining a good image, that they are the people of negotiation and the people of talk, and the Palestinians have suffered the liquidation of their own issue, and second thing, the Israelis have been granted control over the Palestinian Authority’s security issues, so the Palestinian Authority personnel and apparatus are safeguarding Israel more than they are safeguarding our own people, and on the other hand we are granted nothing.
Even today, Israel is exploiting the tax return which should be submitted directly to the Palestinian side, but nobody is doing anything or pressurising Israel to do anything. See, any existing proposal is not based on logical or just principles. For instance, Israel are saying that the lands which were occupied in 1948 are non-negotiable, that is almost 80% of historical Palestine, that Jerusalem is the united, eternal capital of Israel, not on the table. So we are left with 18% of the land, that is Gaza and the West Bank.
Gaza, the Israelis withdrew from unilaterally and without any agreement, and the West Bank has been divided further into A, B and C zones, with Zone A, 20% of the West Bank, where Palestinians are allowed to run things, B, where it is combined between the Israelis and Palestinians, again another 20%, and the remaining 60% of the West Bank is under full Israeli control. So what two-state solution are we talking about over here? I don’t believe in person, and we don’t believe as a movement, that we are in front of something solid that can bring peace to any of our nation, this is something irrelevant to the interests of the Palestinian people, and there is no real proposal. People have been trying this solution since 1991, they only gained more liquidation, more insults, and even today Netanyahu is refusing to negotiate anything with Mahmoud Abbas, hence it is irrelevant to speak of any such proposals.
- Referring to UN Resolution 181, which can be viewed here: https://www.un.org/unispal/document/auto-insert-185393/
- Referring to UN Resolution 37/43, which affirms the right of occupied peoples to use armed struggle, can be viewed here: https://www.refworld.org/docid/3b00f4772c.html
- Referring to the National Reconciliation Document, a.k.a. the Palestinian Prisoners’ Document, which can be viewed here: http://www.bitterlemons.org/docs/prisoners.html
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