Ikhwanweb’s Interview With Al-Qassam Brigades Spokesman
|Monday, January 8,2007 00:00|
Despite its short life in the Palestinian arena, Izzedine Al-Qassam Brigades- the military wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas- has become one of the icons of the Palestinian struggle. Qassam members have been also involved in the current armed confrontation with Fatah in the Palestinian territories. Ikhwanweb interviewed Abu Obaida, the spokesman of Izzedine Al-Qassam Brigades to shed more light on the this armed group and its activities.
Interview with Abu Obaida, the spokesman of Izzedine Al-Qassam Brigades Brigades.
Ikhwanweb: Would you please tell us the history of the Brigades, the date of foundation, and its ideological basis?
Abu Obaida: “Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades” is the armed branch of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas). Ezzedeen Al-Qassam is the name of a pioneer mujahid who was martyred in 1935 near Jenin. Al-Qassam was born in Syria and expelled to Palestine for resisting the French occupation of Syria and Lebanon. In Palestine, he continued his struggle against the British occupation that had promised to make the country a homeland for Jews at the expense of the inhabitants. In 1984 Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Maqadema, Sheikh Salah Shehada and others began to prepare for the establishment of an armed organization to resist the occupation. Their efforts concentrated on acquiring weapons for future resistance activity. However, members of the group were arrested and the weapons were confiscated. At the time, the group didn’t operate under the name of Hamas or Al-Qassam Brigades. In 1986 Sheikh Salah Shehada formed a network of resistance cells called “Al-Mujahidoon Al-Filistinion” (the Palestinian fighters). The network targeted the Zionist occupation troops and traitors. The network continued to work till 1989; and their most famous operations were the kidnappings of two occupation soldiers: Ilan Sadoon and Avi Sasbortas.
IKhwanweb: What is the hierarchical structure and the extents of the EQB’s relation with the political bureau, and who has the final word in making decisions and operations of the Brigades?
Ikhwanweb: What is the mechanism of making decisions to carry out operations against the occupation forces?
Abu Obaida: On the strategic level, Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades policy is to pursue and conduct active resistance against Zionist occupation forces till the liberation of Palestine and full restoration of Palestinian rights. However, on the tactical level, the Brigades conduct their operations and campaigns based on the situation on the ground within the limits of available capabilities. Thus, the Brigades decides on implementing operations over extended periods of time as was the case during Al-Aqsa Intifada, or decides to observe a limited, mutual ceasefire. This depends on the situation on the ground and the assessment of this situation by the leadership.
Abu Obaida: The security situation was in bad condition before the current government. Previous governments empowered criminals and gangs by negotiating with them, paying their ransoms, and fulfilling their demands. The current government deployed the Executive Force due to the impotence of existing security forces. All objections to the Executive Force are merely political. Some elements in Fatah have not accepted the fact that they are the opposition; and they do not want the new government to impose law and order. To this end, they are willing to use arms, and kill people to achieve their goals. In any case, Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades is a resistance organization with its only enemy being the Zionist occupation and its collaborators.
Abu Obaida: Hamas movement is very keen to establish calm and order on the Palestinian street. It is in our interest to ensure that the Palestinian people feel safe at home and on the streets. However, others think that causing chaos and instigating armed conflicts will help in overthrowing the current government. They feel that they benefit from chaos, even if people are killed. These are the people that violate the truce.
Ikhwanweb: How would you respond to those who wonder about the Brigades operations since Hamas assumed power?
Abu Obaida: As I stated earlier, the Brigades conduct its operations based on needs on the tactical level. So, we cannot expect the Brigades, or any resistance movement, to keep conducting operations indefinitely. Nonetheless, the Brigades and two other resistance factions conducted a very successful operation in the Gaza Strip that lead to the imprisonment of an occupation soldier, and death and injury of 8 others. This is the first operation in Palestinian history where Palestinian resistance factions have imprisoned an occupation soldier in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. In addition, the Brigades led the resistance against the occupation army aggression on Gaza Strip after this operation. The Brigades lost more than 100 of its members in resistance operations, fired hundreds of rockets at occupation targets, and hindered occupation military operations in the Gaza Strip.
Ikhwanweb: What is your evaluation of the performance of Brigades during the last period; is it expected to hear, in the near future, a declaration of improving the range of Al-Qassam Missiles?
Abu Obaida: The Brigades performance has been acceptable taking into consideration how powerful the occupation army is.
Ikhwanweb: Mr. Khalid Mashaal spoke about a 10-year truce with the occupation forces; what is your attitude towards this truce and- if sealed- will you be committed to it?
Abu Obaida: We respect the decisions taken by our political leadership.
Ikhwanweb: What is the latest news about the health of the captured soldier, Gilad Shalit, and what is the latest news about the prisoner swap deal?
Abu Obaida: We can say that there are some developments in this file. However, occupation leadership continues to drag its feet with the hope of paying a smaller price for the release of its soldier. Our position is that Palestinian prisoners of all categories and factions are not less valuable than the occupation soldier.
Ikhwanweb: Whom do you blame for the responsibility of the current security mess in the Palestinian arena? do you have a suggestion as to how to resolve this crisis?
Abu Obaida: The current security mess is the result of a number of factors. One factor is the spread of arms among families and clans, making it easier for any dispute to flagellate into an armed confrontation. In addition, there are gangs of organized crimes. Further, there are intentional acts of chaos by elements that want the current government to fail in establishing law and order. There is a collective responsibility of all Palestinian factions, the government, the presidency, and community leaders to work together to put an end to the meaningless loss of innocent lives for the whims of a few elements that do not have the interests of Palestinians at heart.
IKhwanweb: Is there any coordination with other resistance factions?, if yes, what are the extents of such coordination?, is the coordination taking place between cells or between the Brigades leaders and other factions?
Abu Obaida: There is coordination between the Brigades and other resistance factions. This is exemplified by some very successful joint operations, including the operation that led to the imprisonment of the occupation soldier. In addition, the Brigades continues to coordinate resistance actions to confront occupation army military operations in the Gaza Strip. However, there is ground for more improvement in the future.
Ikhwanweb: Some Western media accuse Hamas and its military wing of targeting civilians, would you comment on these accusations?
Abu Obaida: Our call, since it was issued by Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, is that we want to keep innocent civilians out of the confrontation with the occupation army. However, we cannot accept any situation where Palestinian civilians are targeted indiscriminately by the occupation army without any effective international action to curb these crimes.
IKhwanweb: What is the message that you want to send to the international community?
Abu Obaida: Our message is that the Palestinian people are under Zionist occupation, and not vice versa. Help us end the occupation and restore our rights, and the resistance will end. But till our rights are restored, we will not give up the right to defend ourselves and our rights. The international community must be objective in its positions. It is inconceivable that the occupation leadership, the aggressor, is viewed by some as the victim, while Palestinians, who are the victim, are labeled as terrorists.