Hamas official insists that a 'legacy of suffering' under Israel is
what fuels Palestinian resistance.
By Mousa Abu Marzook
From the Los Angeles Times
January 6, 2009
From Damascus — While Americans may believe that the current
violence in Gaza began Dec. 27, in fact Palestinians have been
dying from bombardments for many weeks. On Nov. 4, when the
Israeli-Palestinian truce was still in effect but global attention
was turned to the U.S. elections, Israel launched a "preemptive"
airstrike on Gaza, alleging intelligence about an imminent
operation to capture Israeli soldiers; more assaults took place
throughout the month.
The truce thus shattered, any incentive by Palestinian leaders to
enforce the moratorium on rocket fire was gone. Any extension of
the agreement or improvement of its implementation at that point
would have required Israel to engage Hamas, to agree to additional
trust-building measures and negotiation with our movement -- a
political impossibility for Israel, with its own elections only
Not that the truce had been easy on Palestinians. In the six-month
period preceding this week's bombardment, one Israeli was killed,
while dozens of Palestinians lost their lives to Israeli military
and police actions, and numerous others died for want of medical
The war on Gaza should not be mistaken for an Israeli triumph.
Rather, Israel's failure to make the truce work, and its inevitable
resort to bloodshed, demonstrate again that it cannot permit a
future built on Palestinian political self-determination. The truce
failed because Israel will not open Gaza's borders, because Israel
would rather be a jailer than a neighbor, and because its
intransigent leadership forestalls Palestinian destiny and will not
make peace with history.
This week's war is not an attack on the Izzidin al-Qassam units --
our movement's military wing -- but is simply aggression targeting
the people, infrastructure and economic life of Gaza, designed to
sow terror and loose anarchy; it aims to establish new "facts on
the ground" -- that is, heaps of rubble with bodies trapped beneath
-- in advance of the coming American administration.
Israel claims loudly that it had no other choice this week but to
rain death on refugees in camps, killing dozens of women and
children, while Defense Minister Ehud Barak (the once and would-be
prime minister) -- his eye fixed on February elections -- employs
mass murder as his party's latest vote-getting appeal, an electoral
strategy fit to shame the most hardened Chicago political
But, of course, options remained available. Israel might have
relented months ago, for the sake of the truce, in its criminal
determination to starve Gaza, cutting off much of its fuel and
choking all commerce to a trickle, blocking relief organizations
from delivering food and medicine, and consigning Gaza's citizens
to famine rations. Only the most cynical observer would call this
grinding attrition "good faith" adherence to the truce. Blockades,
after all, are explicitly acts of war.
Palestinians everywhere mark the closing of the Bush era with
relief; nevertheless, skepticism runs high that any justice for our
people might come from a new president who remained ominously
silent in the presence of the latest Israeli onslaught, and who has
aligned himself so thoroughly with Israel's interests, so long in
advance of taking power. Barack Obama's helicopter ride two years
ago above the Holy Land was not unusual in the annals of American
parliamentarians junketed on "fact finding" trips by Israel's
lobbyists; yet his fond remarks on what he saw -- "houses and
streets like ones you might find" in any American suburb -- were
notable for their silence as to any troubling sights. Did he miss
the security roads and checkpoints that riddle the West Bank, or
the construction of the wall, or the illegal settlements? Perhaps
his helicopter flew too high.
But now, amid Israel's latest attack on our people, as the death
toll rises in the hundreds, with thousands wounded -- all victims
of American taxpayers' largesse -- Palestinians wonder how Obama
will react to the escalating crisis. They demand of the next White
House a new paradigm of respect and accountability, because when
Palestinians see an F-16 with the Star of David painted on its
tail, they see America.
Palestinians are understandably guarded about the coming
administration, noting its appointments with trepidation. The
soon-to-be secretary of State is unforgettable for urging years ago
U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's "undivided" capital,
while the administration's chief of staff bears the stain of his
father's service in the banned terrorist Irgun paramilitary, a
Zionist group responsible for numerous atrocities.
Renewed calls today for our movement to "recognize the right of
Israel to exist," in the face of murderous onslaught, ring as
hollow as Israel's continuing claims to be acting in "self-defense"
as her jets bomb civilians. Without debating here the Zionist
state's fictive, existential "right," which of the many Israels,
precisely, would the West have us recognize? Is it the Israel that
militarily occupies land belonging to three of its neighbors,
ignoring international law and scores of U.N. resolutions over
decades? Is it the Israel that illegally settles its citizens on
other people's land, seizes water sources and uproots olive trees?
Is it the Israel that in 60 years has never acknowledged the forced
expulsion of Palestinians from their farms and villages as the
foundational act of its statehood and denies refugees their right
Through bitter experience, when we hear demands for "recognition"
of Israel as a precondition to dialogue, what we hear is a call for
acquiescence in its crimes against us, validating the injustices
that have been wrought in its name.
Our spirit to fight on is the legacy of collective suffering: With
tens of thousands dead or wounded by decades of the "peace
process," you cannot find a family in Palestine -- Muslim or
Christian, Hamas, Fatah, PFLP or Islamic Jihad -- without a son or
daughter killed, injured, jailed or tortured, or which does not
count itself or its kin among the millions of refugees living in
Hamas is not a handful of leaders. Israel may kill all of the
current leadership in this round of violence, including me, and its
organic, social infrastructure will not go away. We are, simply
put, a homegrown national liberation resistance movement, with
millions of people who support our struggle for freedom and
President-elect Obama spoke courageously in his campaign for a
policy of open dialogue, absent preconditions, with those deemed
inimical to U.S. interests, and we were listening. One former U.S.
president -- a true peacemaker -- has dared to visit with us and
hear our side of this struggle, while offering us no shortage of
criticism. It has been a refreshing exchange. Now is the time for
the next U.S. president to do the same.
No American leader has ever visited a Palestinian refugee camp
anywhere, much less in Gaza -- a startling fact, considering the
central role America has played in our people's narrative. None has
dared to look our refugees in their faces and experience their
In observance of the storied tradition of Arab hospitality to
guests, and anticipating that day when an American president
fulfills his promise of change, we extend the invitation now, and
we will put the kettle on.
Mousa Abu Marzook is the deputy of the political bureau of Hamas,
the Islamic Resistance Movement.