Interview with Scheich Hassan Abu Yussuf, spokesman of Hamas in the West Bank
"This is what Islam wants, to stop slavery. It is time for the poor and weak people to gather against imperialism"
Interview with Scheich Hassan Abu Yussuf, spokesman of Hamas in the West Bank
Scheich Hassan Abu Yussuf is one of the most prominent spokespersons of the political wing of Hamas in the West Bank. The international solidarity delegation to Palestine, headed by the Antiimperialist Camp, met him in Ramallah for an interview, just one day after his car had been shot at when he was driving home. Fortunatly nobody died or was injured during this incident.
In the European media there is a lot of talk about Hamas, which is mostly concentrated on their military activity. Could you give us an introduction about your organisation?
First of all I am happy that you came from Europe to get to know Hamas from face to face. Hamas is being labeled as a terrorist group although we are not like that, we are a freedom group, we are defending our land and our holy sites, our people against the aggression, against the wall, against the settlements. Against the occupation that is killing men, women and children. This right is allowed by religion. We are sorry that the story was changed, that those who defend themselves are now called terrorists and those who occupy us became freedom fighters. These times are sad. Is this the civilisation America is talking about? Who is defended by them? We have lived through sixty years of occupation, the USA and other countries support the occupation economically and through the media. Although there have been UN-Resolutions in favour of the rights of the Palestinian people, the US used their Veto. The regime in East-Timor could be brought down within a short time, but here nobody wants to intervene. The world left us, nobody is supporting us to have our own country, so don´t we have the right to defend us as Hamas party? Hamas agreed many times on ceasefires, we are the most disciplined political Palestinian party. What does the world wants from the Palestinians if their houses are destroyed, land is taken, trees are uprooted, a father is more than twenty years in prison? Just to sit and cross hands and to give the aggressors a bunch of flowers? We defend ourselves, we defend the islamic and christian holy sites, we defend a nation, of which sixty percent live in exile. We defend our land against the apartheid wall, against the humilation of the old, sick and pregnant people at the checkpoints. The international community should move before it is too late, in the free countries the solidarity people should move.
What are your activities on the ground to resist the occupation and to strengthen the Palestinian resistance? What is your role within the Palestinian society?
We are not only a military group, but we follow different activities. We have schools, charities, good will associations, lot of Palestinians are supporting us. At the municipality election we were both in the first and the second round highly represented. Also we are looking forward to participate in the coming parlamentary election, for the first time. We believe in democratic life, we respect the democratic process in all institutes and organisations. One of the main bases of Islam is the shura, the discussion what means a democratic way of taking decisions. We are open minded, we are ready to life with the other one, we are against the concept of clashes of religions or civilizations, law shall rule, but we are sorry that until now we have not got a law but a mess. Through political elections one strong law will be implemented in the country. We also are in total favour of independence of courts, we had nothing to do with the attacks against judges.[That took place earlier this year in Gaza] We work against poverty, unemployment, we need social justice. We are not close minded, we are open for science and discoveries. The core of our organisation is formed by students, university teachers, academic people. We respect women, they play an important role in all ways of life, we have institutes specialized for women, they also have positions to decide within Hamas, they work beside men in operations against occupation. Also they are in jail for being part of the movement, on of them even sentenced to 17 life times. So this is not about terrorism. The Palestinians are coming to Hamas, discussing, especially from the educated part of the society. We join the public to support the building of our Palestinian state, stop individuality, strive for team work in the street. We have good relationship with all people in the world that gives hand to us because we are against imperialism. To fight against imperialism means to take the right to live freely and in a good way, with dignity and freedom without domination of others. This is what Islam wants, to stop slavery. It is time for the poor and weak people to gather against imperialism. In Islam we are not allowed to hurt animals so how can we be allowed to treat human beings worse than animals? I hope we will be successful against imperialism. If the fire and the violence become less here in Palestine it will also be better for the others outside Palestine. We are against hatred and evil anywhere in this world. As a result of the US support for big bad powers in the world especially the occupation in Palestine and other places in the world some groups make attacks in London, Madrid. Hamas is against this kind of attacks in other countries. We are afraid that the people will get hurt by these attacks if they do not stop their governments. Hamas is part of the international islamic movement and also internationally represented in Europe and America. The international community put Hamas in the list of terror organisations. And the islamic movement that spoke out against this act has to be afraid now of being persecuted. All we would like is to be respected.
You mentioned the coming parliamentary elections. Under what circumstances are you ready to join the government?
We will join the elections and depending on what the Palestinians need we might also join the government.
What is your evaluation of the withdrawal from Gaza?
I do not believe that Israel wants peace. I am afraid that while they pullout from the Gaza Strip on the one hand they increase the settlements in the Westbank, they continue to demolish our infrastructure. For that Palestinians cannot be expected to keep silent. It is in fact a trick. Gaza remains what it has been: a big prison.
Could you explain to us what happened during the clashes between Palestinians in Gaza?
Yes, it began with Israelis killing Hamas people. So members of the Quassm Brigades went to attack the Israelis in revenge. Some people affiliated with Fatah shot against our people, but it was a little issue. Now everything is under control again, it was easy for Hamas to get the control of the situation again.
What about your relationship, your cooperation with the other political and military forces of the Palestinian resistance?
As for the military cooperation, I do not know, as I have nothing to do with this. Inside Hamas the military and political wings of course cooperate with each other. With the other organisations there is a general agreement about many things, we are in touch with the PFLP, the DFLP and also Fatah. There is a mutual feeling of respect. We cooperated with the PFLP in the municipality elections in Betlehem, you know, although the PFLP and the DFLP are leftist, we have some points on which we agree for the benefit of the Palestinian people.
What is in your opinion the better solution: the one state or the two state solution?
We are against the occupation, we fight for the liberation from the occupation. After this liberation we agree to any democratic election. It is naïve to speak about a two state solution, because would Israel ever agree on the borders from 1967 or agree to hand over Jerusalem as capital for the Palestinians? We have to think in two steps but first we need liberation from occupation.
Antiimperialist Camp, 22 August 2005, Ramallah