Al-Raya Interview With Muslim Brotherhood Deputy Chairman Over Gaza Crisis
For a year and a half the Israeli leadership had been planning to encroach upon Gaza with the aim of eliminating Hamas and breaking its will. However, its expectations were failed as its army failed to achieve any political or military victory after learning an unforgettable historical lesson of firmness and confrontation by the resistance.
Dr. Mohamed Habib, Vice-Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood, revealed that around 1200 MB members had been detained for supporting and showing solidarity with the people of Gaza as he hailed the Arabs, Muslims and free people of the world who stood up for Gaza and showed solidarity with its people as well as Qatar”s role which he described as “reflecting part of the ambitions and aspirations of the Arab people.”
Habib affirmed, in a heated dialogue with El-Raya weekly, that resistance has become the only option for restoring the Palestinian lands pointing out that the Israeli enemy had sown the seeds of hatred in the heart of every human in the world and that this Israeli massacre wasn”t to punish only Hamas but all the Palestinians in front of the whole world.
Habib suggested forming a national committee that would include a number of Arab national figures who would be responsible for supervising the process of rebuilding Gaza, pointing out that the Palestinian authority has lost its legitimacy, while resistance has become the true expression of Palestinians” will.
The following is the full text of the interview translated by Ikhwanweb:
First of all, what is your opinion regarding the last Israeli offensive in Gaza? And could it be said that Arab silence was a factor of the brutality of this offensive?
I would like to stress that the criminal offensive and massacres carried out by the Israeli enemy against the people of Gaza were not a reaction to the ending of the truce but were prepared ahead of time after the siege strategy failed to achieve any of their aims which were eliminating resistance, breaking the will of the Palestinian people, restoring the confidence and veneration to the Israeli military institution, especially after its defeat in the war on Lebanon in 2006, and also to send a message to the Arab governments that Israel continues to be an undefeatable power and a strong fist that can harm any state or entity.
None of these goals were achieved. On the other hand, the resistance was able to remain steadfast and firm despite the high price it paid and human tragedy it experienced as a result of the war.
I can say that the Palestinians” will has not been broken, that their determination has not softened, and that resistance has imposed itself on the political arena and the whole world and that the Arab regimes can no longer ignore or disregard it.
No doubt that the offensive in Gaza which left thousands of martyrs and war-wounded, couldn”t have been carried out without the help of an international conspiracy and official Arab silence and failure.
The Story of Victory
How do you interpret this victory? Is it exaggerated to consolidate Hamas” continuance in power?
We must be well aware of the meaning of victory and that military operations have their political aims. Battles and wars impose one will over another and allow an ideology to prevail over others. So, the question is: Was the Israeli enemy able to impose its will and ideology?! Was it able to weaken the resistance and make it submit as it did with others?! Was it able to stop the rockets from being launched or reaching their storage unit?! Was it able to divide between the Palestinian people and Hamas, even in the political sense? The whole world witnessed that Israel had failed to achieve any of its goals, and that its hopes and aspirations had evaporated and collapsed upon their collision with the solid rock of resistance.
Concerning Hamas” continuance in authority, that depends on the results of free elections. We always stress that legitimacy must come from the Palestinian people and these people have shown their full bias to resistance. This bias was deep rather than superficial and real rather than a fantasy proven by the great sacrifices that they offered throughout their confrontation with the Israeli enemy as well as their historical steadfastness and firmness.
A third of the enemy”s army entered the war and shelled thousands of tons of internationally banned explosives destroying the infrastructure and imagining that the resistance would collapse within 48 hours but that didn”t happen. Instead, the resistance continued to face the offensive for 22 days while other organizations and regimes weren”t able to withstand it after six hours.
The goals and means of the Palestinians and resistance are clear: there is no alternative other than resistance. In the end, Palestine remains an occupied and usurped country and Islam made armed struggle lawful for the sake of liberating the land.
From your point of view, what are the major factors and reasons which deterred the Israeli offensive and led to a ceasefire in Gaza?
There are several factors. The first of them is the steadfastness and firmness of the Palestinian resistance which confronted the barbarous Israeli offensive and this was the leading factor in the battle. Another factor was the pressure of the Arab masses who announced their rage against the brutal and barbarous attacks against the people of Gaza. Through these demonstrations the MB tried to achieve several aims including pressuring the Arab regimes to move and take sufficient measures to compel the enemy to stop its barbarous attacks on the Palestinians, withdraw its forces from Gaza, open the crossings, and lift the siege. Moreover, Arab and world support for resistance was an important factor as it was a source of inspiration for the resistance that increased their firmness, steadfastness, spirit of challenge and strength. However the stance of the Arab regimes was a lot less than moral, humanitarian, and patriotic whether considering the scope of the crisis, nature of disaster, or aspirations and ambitions of the Arab people. People were on one side while regimes were on another.
The MB and the Crisis
What did the MB offer the Palestinians throughout the crisis? And do you believe that Hamas was severely punished because of its affiliation with the MB?
The MB made serious efforts in Egypt to support and back the resistance in Gaza, and I believe that the goals that it pursued have been somehow achieved and fruits have shown to a good extent despite the security nuisances and hindrances it encountered. Around 1200 members of the MB were detained during the crisis, and despite the release of a large number of them, hundreds of them remain in the prisons.
Concerning Hamas” punishment, the truth is that the Israeli massacre targeted all the Palestinian people. However, the stance of several Arab regimes was, unfortunately, extremely shameful, as if the Palestinian people were all Hamas.
Compensations of the MB
What about the compensations which are said to reach 50 million dollars to be offered by the MB to Hamas?
The rumors circulating about the MB collecting 50 million dollars of donations in contribution to rebuilding Gaza are not correct. However, the MB does encourage MB youth, women, and men as well as others to support the Palestinians in Gaza as it urges them to struggle with their money and all other forms of support they can give via the official relief committees whether the Relief Committee under the Doctors Syndicate or Relief and Emergency Committee under the Arab Doctors Union.
How do you evaluate the role of the Palestinian Authority during the crisis? And could it be said that it has lost its legitimacy?
I believe all political analysts, strategists, and observers affirmed that resistance has become the true expression of the Palestinians” will.
The Role of Qatar
How do you evaluate the role of Qatar during the crisis?
We appreciate the Qatari Prince”s invitation of Arab leaders to the Emergency Gaza Summit in Doha. Also, we support the eight points that he called for in the summit and have issued a statement in which we affirmed that these points represent the minimum level of the Arab nation”s hopes and expectations.
News is circulating about legal efforts, in the upcoming days, to chase the Israeli Army Generals who had committed the war crimes during the offensive in Gaza. What about these efforts? And is the MB taking part in them?
Yes, definitely. The MB is working towards chasing the Israeli leaders who were behind this brutal offensive in Gaza via lawyers and prominent and public figures in Egypt. Indeed, we”ve already begun taking steps towards presenting them before the international criminal court as have all other popular, regional, and international organizations.
Some argued that the mass demonstrations held by the MB were for the purpose of displaying strength? What is your comment on this?
First of all, I have to ask: Was the MB supposed to be silent or stand with their hands to their sides as this heavy bloodshed and these heinous crimes against humanity were taking place?! What about the millions around the world, did all these go out to display their strength?! Of course not.
We had to express our rage against what was happening, and we had hoped that all the Egyptians go out to express their refusal of the criminal Israeli offensive and support the resistance. Also, the MB has always shown up in different crises facing our fellow Arabs, whether in Palestine, Iraq, Sudan, or even in Egypt and we communicate with the masses at all levels. So, it is not a display of our strength, but a commitment to the moral, humanitarian, patriotic, national, and Islamic duty towards our faith, nation, and country.
Some are talking about the strong bonds between the MB and Hamas, and at the same time refer to Hamas as being under the authority of Iran. How do you view this matter?
The Islamic resistance movement Hamas does not follow anybody, neither Iran nor Syria. If its media and political offices are based in some of the Arab countries, that is because of its keenness for the governments and people of these countries to interact with the Palestinian issue. My estimation is that this has no effect, whether directly or indirectly, on the independence of the movement”s will because it has its own and well-known clear vision, specified strategy, and framework within which it practically works and faces it challenges. Therefore, it makes its own decisions.
How do you view the Arab reconciliation that took place at the margins of the Economic Summit in Kuwait?
The MB is with reconciliation and sees that the first beneficiary of Arab division is the enemy. But reconciliation must be based on specific foundations and rules whether they are concerned with the big national issues, requisites of Arab-Islamic national security, or even comprehensive development.
But if reconciliation is based on tentative emotions and feelings it will not stand firmly for long when faced with challenges, and these challenges are a lot and big. Neither will it be able to build the destiny, present state, and future of the Arab nation.
A comprehensive reconciliation requires Arab countries to possess a free will of action that is independent from the American administration that will allow it to break the siege of division, weakness, and paralysis imposed on it.
Forming a National Committee
What is your opinion regarding the differences that arose between the Arab and European countries following the announcement of establishing a fund for rebuilding of Gaza? And in your opinion should the money go to Hamas or the Palestinian Authority?
If the money doesn”t go to the legitimate government that has been embraced by its people; the government that connected and fought side by side with its people; then a committee may be formed comprising national Arab figures provided that they take on this duty objectively.
After Obama officially became President of the White House, the bet on him continued that he will be more understanding and better in dealing with the Arab issues than former President Bush. How far do you agree with that?
In my estimation, a whole year is required before Obama can start dealing effectively with the Arab issues as he will be busy now with the internal issues, the global financial crisis, and the economic situation in his country. I imagine that the situation will most probably escalate which will in turn affect his way of dealing with the components of the Arab and regional scene in general.
There may be another approach, whether in appearance or content, with the Irani, Syrian, Sudanese, and Iraqi files but I believe that there will not be any noticeable change in the approach with the Palestinian case.
After the War on Gaza
What is the expected scenario after the war on Gaza?
Resistance: it has been deeply engraved in our memories and awareness not only at the Palestinian level but at the global level. A conviction has been born now that resistance is the only way to restore and liberate the Palestinian lands from the hands of Israeli occupation, a meaning that will impose a new dimension for the people and governments.
I don”t think it”s wise for the whole world to be talking about the victory, heroism, initiative, and firmness of resistance while we avoid supporting it.
The whole world is beginning to wake up to the new facts and milestones. There are meanings that have started to become clearer, and vision that has begun to take shape, especially the meaning of resistance which has become known in every home, site, and square. The Israeli entity has sown the seeds of hatred while sowing at the same time the seeds of resistance in the heart of every human being, not only in the Arab and Islamic regions, but around the whole world.
From your point of view, what are the lessons that we can derive from the Gaza crisis?
There are several lessons to be learned. A life of pride, freedom, and dignity requires sacrifices, struggle, and martyrdom.