Israel vs. Palestine: Total breakdown in communication

© Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
One the one hand, Palestinians say they are sick and tired of oppression, humiliation, and poverty by Israelis. On the other hand, Israelis claim their actions are necessary to protect citizens from terrorists.

‘Israel protects children with missiles, Gaza protects missiles with children’ – Likud MP

Sharren Haskel, a member of the Knesset for the Likud party, said that Hamas is building rocket launchers around schools and hospitals defending their missiles with the innocent population, while Israel is protecting its citizens by trying to destroy terrorists’ missiles.

Clashes occurred between the IDF and Palestinian youths on Sunday in Jerusalem and the West Bank. A 3-year old Palestinian was killed in Ramallah.

RT: There is a video of the father of a 3-year-old Palestinian girl killed yesterday morning in Gaza by an Israeli airstrike. His pregnant wife died too. When you see scenes like this, can you justify these sorts of airstrikes? 

Sharren Haskel: ...You need to understand something: Israel is protecting its children with missiles, and the difference between Hamas [and the Israeli government] is that Hamas is protecting its missile with children; Israel is only defending itself. Unfortunately, there are causalities, but it is not Israel’s fault, it is Hamas’ fault.

RT: Can you not see how this type of airstrike can inflame the situation, or do you really believe it will act as a deterrent?

SH: As I said before, Hamas is building rocket launchers, and other groups as well within the Gaza Strip, are building missiles and rocket launchers around schools, around hospitals, and unfortunately they are defending their missiles with the population, with innocent people, with children. Now, in order for us to protect our citizens, we need to destroy these launchers, and we do everything we can in order to evacuate the area first of people. You can hear different stories from the Palestinians of Hamas threatening them not to leave these areas…

RT: You’ve mentioned that Israel has been doing everything it can to prevent innocent people from dying. Could you tell us what did it do to prevent those people from dying yesterday morning?

SH: For example, before any airstrike Israel called all the residents in the area to evacuate. It lets them know that Israeli is going to attack a certain specific area. It doesn’t bombard the whole neighborhood; it targets the specific area where there was the missile launcher. After it’s been letting everybody know [that they should] evacuate from the area either by phone calls, sometimes by throwing fliers, as well, from the air, so that people are aware of it, it sends a small bomb on the roof of the house that sends a shock to the people who are around. Only after people that are looking – there are different cameras that can see how many citizens are in the area - after [they] see that there are no more people, that everybody has evacuated the building, then it sends the bomb to destroy the missile launcher.

READ MORE: Israel strikes Hamas sites in Gaza: Pregnant Palestinian woman, child killed as house collapses

RT: But still people were killed yesterday. 

SH: Unfortunately, in war there are innocent people who are harmed by it. And Israel doesn’t want war. And this is the message that Israel is sending to the Gazan citizens as well, Israel doesn’t want war…

RT: Given all the violence we've seen in recent days, do you fear the situation is spiraling out of control?

SH:  Israel is under attack at the moment; Israel has been experiencing a terrible wave of terror; Israeli citizens have been murdered, have been killed in the last few days by a single attack. And Israel needs to defend itself, and it’s doing everything it can to defend itself, but not to use severe measures...

RT: So what is the diplomatic, non-violent solution here then?

SH: The Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu told Mahmoud Abbas, Abu Mazen, to come down without precondition and to sit down and negotiate a deal. And I say: if you want a diplomatic solution, put aside all your preconditions and go and speak to Prime Minister Netanyahu – this is the diplomatic solution to this situation.

Israeli soldiers. © Mohamad Torokman

‘Palestinian spring’ against occupation

Is not a fight between Hamas and Israel, this is a struggle of young Palestinian people against oppression and occupation,  Mustafa Barghouti, of the Palestinian National Initiative told RT.

RT: We have seen continuous stabbing attacks, clashes and shootings over the last 10 days with no sign of the situation calming. Why has this crisis unfolded to such an extent?

Mustafa Barghouti: First of all, this is not a fight between Hamas and Israel, as some people report. This is a struggle of young Palestinian people against oppression and occupation. These are mostly independent young people who are sick and tired of oppression, of humiliation, of poverty and unemployment. This maybe can be called the youth ‘Palestinian spring’ against occupation.

It is almost a new Intifada, and it is happening again for the same reasons why we had the first Intifada and the second and all the forms of other popular uprisings. It is happening because Palestinians have been under Israeli military occupation for 48 years, depriving them of dignity, from a normal life, taking away their young people and putting them in prison. Up till now the Israeli army has killed 22 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and injured more than 2,000 in less than 10 days. This shows you how violent the Israeli army is against this popular uprising.

RT: We also spoke to a Likud party member of the Knesset, Sharren Haskel, about the justification of the overnight airstrike which killed a three-year-old girl. She claims that Israel is simply defending itself and one should blame Hamas, not Israel. What’s your reaction to that?

MB: I think this young Israeli woman is a victim of a racist upbringing. For her, Palestinian life is not as important as an Israeli life. I would say for both lives are equally important. I don’t want an Israeli to be killed, but no Palestinian also should be killed. She should understand that the Palestinian life, the children’s life in Palestine is equally precious as Israeli lives are.

The problem with the Israeli politicians, including this young lady, is that they are following a racist approach, and they have transformed the system of occupation and oppression of other people into a system of apartheid and racism much worse than what prevailed in South Africa. The only way we can have peace is that the Israelis accept us as equal human beings, as that they accept us – that we should be free; they accept our right to freedom, to independence, to dignity, to prosperity and economic development. So far they have been occupying us, oppressing us, suppressing us. And what you see on the ground now is a fascinating young generation that is not afraid of anything, because they have nothing to lose. Their life is in misery, and they demand freedom.

READ MORE: ‘Palestinian youth have lost all hope for a two-state solution’ – Gaza NGO director

RT: Benjamin Netanyahu has called for more police reinforcements to tackle the problem.  Is he going down the right path? What do you think can be done to deescalate the situation at the moment

MB: Well, Mr. Netanyahu, as all Israeli government cabinet ministers, understands unfortunately only the language of force. For him the failure of Israeli force is by using more force. In my opinion, his government is shaking now and it can fall down at any moment. The only way out of this is for the international community, and specially countries like the US, who have been supporting Israel, providing it with protection in the [UN] Security Council with veto power, and providing it with military equipment and financially - they have to pressure Israel to stop this madness and this occupation. The international community cannot and should not allow Israel to continue to be above international law, and imputative to international law...

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.