Since it began its bombings in the Gaza Strip a week ago, Israel has blamed the radical Palestinian faction Hamas for initiating this cycle of violence. Diplomat Husam Zomlot does not agree with this justification. “We have to remember that it is Israel that colonizes Palestine, not the other way around,” he said.
Ambassador of the Organization for the Liberation of Palestine to the United Kingdom, Zomlot also refutes the Israeli version that the army is bombing Gaza to protect itself from rockets launched by Hamas. “We do not believe that Israel has the right to defend itself, given its illegal existence on our land.”
Zomlot refers to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent expulsion of Palestinians from their homes. This was the case with his parents, who even fled to Gaza. He was born in a refugee camp in the south of the Gaza Strip.
The ambassador does not respond if he supports the launching of rockets by Hamas against Israel. He seems uncomfortable with the question and insists that the focus should be on the cause of the problem. “We are not here to condemn our besieged, colonized, enraged and resilient people,” he said. “We are here to condemn those who occupy us.”
After weeks of tension over the eviction of Palestinian families from a neighborhood in East Jerusalem, Israeli security forces attacked Al-Aqsa Mosque, injuring hundreds. Hamas launched a first volley of rockets on the 10th. Then Israel began attacking the Gaza Strip, killing at least 201 people. On the Israeli side, there were 10.
For the Palestinian ambassador, the international community must take a stand against Israel and protect the Palestinians. Brazil’s behavior in this regard leaves much to be desired. He claims that President Jair Bolsonaro – who condemned Hamas – has the “racist regime in Israel” as a model. “Brazil deserves more than that.”
What is the situation today in the Gaza Strip? Gaza has been the subject of a brutal Israeli bombing campaign for almost a week. Gaza has no defense system, no shelter, there is nowhere to go. Nothing. Entire families have been killed. It is a war crime, a crime against humanity, and it must end.
How do these events relate to what has happened in recent weeks in Jerusalem? The Palestinians have reached their limit. They are tired of oppression, denial of their rights, continuous displacement, land theft, daily humiliation, military checks and daily assassinations. The last episode was the threat to evict Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem to be replaced by Jewish families. It’s a continuation of colonialism, of ethnic cleansing that started in 1948. It infuriated people. At the height of this situation, Israel attacked the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan and injured hundreds. It affected all Palestinians. If there is one thing that unites all Palestinians, it is Jerusalem.
Israel accuses Hamas of unleashing violence by launching rockets at Tel Aviv. We must remember that it is Israel that occupies Palestine. It is Israel that colonizes Palestine, and not the other way around. The Palestinians did not steal Israeli land, they did not expel anyone.
What is the position of the Palestinian leadership? Do you support Hamas, launching rockets against Israel? Our official position is clear. We condemn the Israeli aggression against our people. We do not believe that Israel has the right to defend itself, given its illegal existence in our land. Regardless of how we see the reaction of certain Palestinian groups, this is what we need to focus on. We are not here to condemn our besieged, colonized, enraged and resilient people. We are here to condemn those who occupy us and to bring the occupation to an end.
You say you don’t believe Israel has the right to defend itself … I won’t talk about that. When our people are attacked, we come together. We are killed in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Hebron, Jenin, Jaffa, Haifa, Lod … This question is irrelevant.
Is the Israeli response proportional to the threat from Hamas? It’s disgusting. Nothing less than a war crime. You must go to the International Criminal Court. The world does not enforce its own rules. You cannot target civilians. They say the Palestinians use children as human shields. That’s crazy. They have sophisticated weapons. They deliberately destroy houses. This question of proportionality … What is proportionality? How many Palestinians have to die compared to the Israelis? Twenty to one?
How does this affect Palestinians in the West Bank and Israel? The right-wing machine that controls Israel spreads hatred and discrimination against Palestinians. Not only Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, but the entire political class, in coordination with the state, civil society and the press. All of this led to the lynching of the Arabs by the Jews.
What is the role of the United States and the international community in resolving this situation? It’s simple, but it has never been done. Impose sanctions and enforce your own rules. Israel will never respect international laws if they are not accompanied by action. Israel cannot be above the law. This culture of impunity must end. In addition, we immediately need international protection – a peacekeeping mission to protect our people.
President Jair Bolsonaro condemned the launching of rockets by Hamas and called for an end to the attacks on Israel. How do you assess the Brazilian position? Brazil is one of the countries that historically supports the Palestinian cause the most. But Bolsonaro’s leadership has taken Netanyahu as an inspiration and Israel’s racist regime as a model. It’s sad to have to see the flags of Brazil and Israel together. Brazil deserves more than that.