What you need to know:
- The Palestinian Ambassador to Tanzania, Hamdi Mansour Abuali, in an interview with The Citizen, hosted by the managing editor, Mpoki Thomson, reiterated his plea for global intervention in the crisis in Gaza and called upon the US to use its influence to stop the war.
QUESTION: Tell us about your hope for peace in the ongoing crisis.
ANSWER: Our hope is to focus on the root cause of the problem in Palestine and avoid talking about the small remedies that will not change the facts. What we are facing is the problem of a colonial power that occupied our land and forced our people to leave. This dates back to 1948, when the first massacres took place and 800,000 Palestinians were forced to leave Palestine to become refugees. Since then, Palestinians have been forced to become refugees in their own land and other places. So the root cause of the problem is the colonial occupation and the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. If we don’t see the real problem, we cannot fix it.
So, what exactly are you calling for?
We want the right to establish our own state according to the UN resolution and as agreed upon through a global consensus calling for the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital; we want the right to our own land; and we want our refugees to return to their homes. The problem is known, and so is the solution. We just need to implement the solution.
A diplomatic approach solve the problem?
We have been working on a diplomatic solution for the last 30 years. We entered into this process in good faith and with hope that it would end with the creation of a Palestinian state. We entered into this process recognizing the rights of the Israelites to exist once we got the global recognition that we have a right to exist in our own country too. We have been involved in finding peaceful solutions all these years. However, our good intentions to enter into a peaceful resolution were confronted by Israeli aggression when they decided to build settlements in our land, showing that they have no intention for peace. Apart from that, the Israeli Prime Minister, in front of the whole world, declared that there will not be two states, meaning there will be no Palestinian state. So, there cannot be a peaceful resolution while the Israeli Prime Minister says there will not be a Palestinian state and the entire world is quiet about it. It is time for us now to be united and say that enough is enough.
Do you still have hope that the UN will come up with a solution to the crisis?
This is the dilemma we are in at the moment. Will the whole world, its people, and its leadership allow a far-right, fascist government in Israel to control the destiny of other people and the region? Will we allow this as nations? This is the test that is in front of us all. If we allow extremism to rule, then how will we justify our human rights efforts on other occasions? If today we allow Israel to decide on what they want with no respect to the world, the international community, or resolutions, why do we then blame others for committing genocide? We have to say enough is enough.
It is reported that the latest hostilities were ignited after the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel, which Palestinians view as retaliation for decades of suffering under Israeli occupation. What do you have to say about this?
I will answer this in the context of United Nations experts: Israel, as an occupying power, doesn’t have the right to self-defense against the people they occupy. Israel is not being attacked by another state for it to say that it is defending itself. The people of Palestine have been besieged by Israel for the last 17 years. What happened on October 7 didn’t come from a vacuum. Palestinians cannot have access to water unless Israel allows; they can’t have electricity unless Israel allows; and they can’t access fuel and other necessities without the permission of Israel. However, they can be bombed in their own houses if Israel wants to do it. Imagine sitting in your house with nowhere to run; all you can do is wait for a bomb to come and kill you and your entire family. You have no choice, whether you are Hamas or not. Most of the casualties are children; we are talking about 7,000 or 8,000; we actually stopped counting; most of them are in the rubble. Are these children Hamas? Do they know what Hamas means? Women, children, the elderly, Christians—they have all been killed by Israel; are they Hamas? If this is revenge, does Israel have the right to kill these children in order to satisfy their revenge?
It is believed that the restriction of the flow of essential goods and other humanitarian challenges faced by Gaza residents as a result of the blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel and Egypt are contributing factors to what is happening today. What do you have to say about that?
Israel has occupied Gaza, the West Bank, and the rest of Palestine. They are bombarding, killing, and assassinating people, destroying houses and farms in Gaza, Jerusalem, and the West Bank. Jerusalem and the West Bank have nothing to do with Hamas; why are they being bombarded? Israel has taken full control of Palestine; they decide what should be done. What we are facing is absolute ethnic cleansing.
What do you have to say about Israel's allies and those siding with Palestine? What is your view of their actions and inaction in the current crisis?
Israel and its allies, which include the American administration, want to use other countries, such as Iran, as a pretext to continue ethnically cleansing Palestinians. These pretexts for justifying why they are killing Palestinians do not make sense. If Iran or any other country is standing by Palestine, does that justify the killing of Palestinians? If the American administration doesn’t agree with another country, does that give it the right to tell Israel there is a green light and kill as many as you want? Palestinians have the right to resist occupation, just as any other country does.
We didn’t go to attack another country; we are in our own country, resisting occupation and colonial power, who are systematically terrorizing and killing us. The 60,000 people who were killed were not Hamas. Hamas doesn’t have 60,000 individuals. Children two years and two months old aren’t Hamas. Let’s think clearly about this issue. Israel will always create a pretext for why they are killing us.
Israel is conducting indiscriminate bombings due to the fear of the Hamas threat in Palestine. Does Hamas represent the entire state of Palestine?
This is a very important question to ask: Where is Hamas? Hamas doesn’t control the entire Palestinian State. Hamas is only in Gaza; people in the West Bank aren’t controlled by Hamas, but they are still killed. As I said, Israel will create the pretext that Hamas is controlling the whole of Palestine, and so they have to kill everyone in the Palestinian State because they are Hamas. Do they know who Hamas is? Can they identify Hamas and only kill him? Or will they continue killing everybody—Hamas or not? We have to defend ourselves; otherwise, we will be eliminated. We were given three choices: accept their domination and be slaves, be killed, or be exiled. We rejected this.
The African Union has expressed deep concern about the ongoing crisis. What is your message to the AU and the Tanzanian government?
I’m satisfied and happy for the support we got from Tanzania during this difficult time.
Foreign Affairs Minister January Makamba was one of the first ministers to issue a statement asking for the war to stop. We feel the solidarity and support. We ask for more pressure to be imposed on Israel to stop killing our people. We want the consensus of Africans and the entire world to ask Israel to stop killing our people. This is our message, and this is what we wish for.
Do you in any way feel abandoned by the international community and world superpowers?
You are touching on a very important and sensitive issue. The American administration is an ally of Israel; they have the ability to force Israel to stop this aggression. These are steps they are not taking. The world is now starting to understand the atrocity that is happening in Palestine. I hope that Israel will be directed to listen to reason and find a place in their hearts for humanity to prevail.