By Vanessa Tomassini.
“We, the Palestinians, are human beings. The international community should intervene, making Israel stop the war and implementing international law. I invite all the Europeans to consider all people equally”. The Palestinian ambassador to Morocco, Jamal Al-Shobaki, tells “Strumenti Politici” in an exclusive interview. He calls on the international community to prevent further escalation and to protect civilians, pointing out that Israel, as usual, doesn’t allow an international investigation into the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital massacre in Gaza.
Thank you, Mr. Ambassador, for this interview, especially in this sad historical moment. Let’s start with the massacre that happened at Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza. The United States, Israel and media reconstructions say the missile was fired from inside Gaza, by the Islamic Jihad. It’s really so?
“I am sure that it was from Israel. The entire war on Gaza or against Palestinians is responsibility of Israel. Israel is refusing to allow the International Criminal Court to come in and investigate their crimes in the area. Why Israel refuses that? Not only now, but all times. Because Israel is always attacking Palestine and killing Palestinian innocent people, not only after the seventh of October. Before this date, more than 300 Palestinian civilians have been killed in the West Bank and there was no Hamas and no Qasem. But they killed civilians without any reasons, as they assassinated boys and girls in Jerusalem without any reasons. They attacked families in the West Bank before 7th October. The world wants to know the reason why all Palestinian people is victim of occupation, which is the cause of all what is happening. Israel should abide to the international law that affirms, since many years, that Israeli occupation must end and it has to provide freedom to Palestinian people. We recognized Israel’s right to exist in peace in Oslo agreement. On the Israeli side, Yitzhak Rabin has been killed and they said who murdered him is enemy of peace. Those were Netanyahu’s group. Then they also killed Abu Ammar (Yasser Arafat ed) who signed the accord with Rabin in 1993. Israel doesn’t want peace, they want to cancel Palestine, destroy Palestinian community and to not see any Palestinian in life. Their minister of Finance, Bezalel Smotrich, has a plan that has been published on the media, according to which Palestinians have three options: move abroad and they can help for that, be slave of Israeli people, third option whoever resist will be killed. Palestinians have those three choices. That is the reality we are suffering under the occupation.”
It’s surprising how we all know that but since the day after the attack on Israel, the U.S. and Europe stand with Israel and stressed its right to defend itself. How do you explain that?
“This is a question we should ask them. It is difficult for me to understand the Western countries’ reaction. All the time, they criticized Israel for its apartheid policy, for confiscating Palestinian lands but then they punish us. You see how many millions, weapons, soldiers they sent to Israel? How many presidents came to Israel to give them the right to defend itself? It’s the greatest military power in the Middle East. Do the Palestinians also have the right to defend ourselves? This is the question for the U.S. and their allies. They cried at the beginning for the forty children beheaded and it wasn’t true, then they remain silent in front of our children and civilians killed all the time. We said all times that we are against the killing of civilians from both sides. But we didn’t see condemnation for the killings of our people, particularly from the UK and the US. We saw how Palestinian journalist Sheerin Abu Akleh has been murdered in front of her camera. They first lied by saying ‘It’s not from us, Palestinians did’ and then they admitted by saying ‘it was a mistake’. No soldier has been brought to justice, same thing happens if they kill one or ten civilians. Since the beginning of the current attack, Israeli soldiers killed already over 3.500 innocent and over 12,000 wounded mainly civilians, children, entire families. All camera in the world is watching those crimes, but Israeli lobbies controlling the mainstream media show sympathy for Israel as we are not human beings. We, Palestinians, are human beings, we have values, we have the right to freedom. As a Palestinian I want the same right as the rest of the world, a State with Jerusalem as capital, to live in peace. My father’s house was destroyed in 1948 and they keep demolishing Palestine again, and again, and again. We ask the international community to guarantee our rights to live, to self-determination, to have an identity, a Nation. But we have anything, of all this. Do the Palestinians have the right to resist the occupation? Why Ukrainian people have the right to do so and us not? Most of Western countries use double standard”.
You already said something very important: Palestine condemns the killing of civilians from both sides. Since 7th October Israel is saying to be in a war against Hamas. Mr Ambassador is Hamas a terrorist group?
“Our Arab Foreign Minister released a statement condemning the killing of any civilians from all sides. Hamas is a group of Palestinian people who are living in Gaza in those 16 years of blockade. This closure made the Gaza Strip the biggest jail in the world. How you can imagine the prisoners in a jail think? Israel affirmed several times that it was ready to withdraw from Gaza, so why you keep the blockade? Why the cut of electricity, food, water, humanitarian aids? They put over 2.3 million people in a jail and those in prison have the right to resist the occupation. We need to respect the international law, is Israel ready to sit, meet, accept and implement the international law?”.
Are you ready Mr. Ambassador to sit and accept the dialogue?
Abraham Accords. Do Palestinians, and you personally, feel betrayed by your Arab neighbors?
“I think all Arab people are now with Palestinian people. They have seen the injustice on Palestinian people for decades. Some Arab regimes tried to make peace with Israel with the hope that Israel was going to change their approach toward Palestinians. But the result is the opposite! After all Arab countries normalized relations with Israel, its policy towards us became more and more aggressive. Netanyahu government is the worst in the entire story of Israel. It is a Zionist, extremist religious government. Half of them say this the promise land that God gave to us from river to sea. Palestinians have no right to be there, they must transfer. Do you remember when Netanyahu showed the map to the United Nations? There was no sign of Palestine. That’s what the world has to see and this is not acceptable. We are about 14 million of Palestine, half of us are refugees abroad because of 1948’ Nakba and half of them inside Palestine. Are we equal? This is an apartheid regime even worst than this we used to see in South Africa in the past”.
Morocco has re-established relations with Israel, do you believe that Rabat can lead negotiations at least to stop this war?
“We hope that. I wish if anyone can stop the war. Through you, I call everyone to stop the conflict. Because every minute of war means hundreds of Palestinian civilians’ people killed. We need this role, anyone who has the power should convince Israel to end this war now”.
Why doesn’t Egypt open the Rafah crossing?
“I think all the boarder is closed by Israel, which controls 75km and Egypt just 8 km of the Gaza border. When Egypt tried to send aids into Gaza, the crossing had been seriously damaged by Israeli airstrikes and Cairo wants Israel to guarantee safe passage for aid convoys before it would let trucks through. On the other side, Israel wanted to transfer Palestinians to Sinai, both Egypt and Palestine reject that”.
We need a solution Mr Ambassador…
“Yes, the only solution is that Israel stops this war. Why Israel didn’t open the borders? All Gaza is under attack. Half of the employees at the Embassy are from Gaza. We call their families, some of them are on the road, some have been killed. It’s a new catastrophe for the Palestinian people. How the world can accept all this? Seventy-five percent of Palestinian original population is displaced in Gaza and now they want to move them to Sinai. My family is original from Beit Jibrin, a town west of Hebron. Israel destroyed it in 1948 where my father, my grandfather, and grand-grandfather used to live and have lands. Since Naqba, from 75 years, me and my family are not allowed to visit our town”.