An Interview with Dahoud Shebab, Spokesperson of the Islamic Jihad in Gaza
Through the help of friends from the international media, the Liberation staff was able to send a set of questions to the Palestinian resistance movement based in Gaza. The questions focused on the reasons why the October 7 military action against Israeli forces was launched, the unity of various groups and forces in Palestine, the vision of a free Palestine, and the lessons the world could learn from the Palestinians as they wage their war of liberation and self-determination.
The Islamic Jihad is among the various groups within the Palestinian Forces Alliance, which includes Hamas, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Popular Struggle Front, Palestinian Liberation Front, Vanguard for the Popular Liberation War-Lighting Forces, and the Fatah Al-Intifada Movement.
Below is the transcript and translation of the video interview with Dahoud Shebab. Minor copy editing was done for this online version.
Liberation: What was the immediate trigger of the October 7 attack against the Israeli government? Is there a strategic goal behind this?
Dahoud Shebab (DS): October 7 was an expression of the angry Palestinian rejection of all forms of repression and terrorism by Israel over many years against the Palestinian people. October 7 is not isolated from the rest of the Palestinian resistance before October 7.
We must say that the Palestinian resistance is about defending its land and defending its people. The resistance is not a group of killers and killing in itself is not the goal. It is not to cause a state of destruction and ruins.
Rather, it seeks to pressure the occupation and use legitimate means to raise its voice to the world and deliver its message, especially in the light of Israel’s complete denial of the rights of the Palestinian people and the continued Israeli attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem, the West Bank; Israel’s continuous violations of prisoners’ rights; and, the continuing siege of the Gaza Strip. All these were done by Israel without anyone in the world doing anything to stop them.
We have been warning and sending messages to mediators, all parties, and the United Nations that Israeli policies will lead to a major escalation and an explosion of the situation.
Before, we witnessed great aggression by Israel. There was killing of Palestinians at checkpoints in the West Bank in cold blood. Every day there were victims. Did anyone look at those victims? No. No one looked.
And then came October 7. The aim was to tell Israel and send a message to the whole world that the Palestinian resistance can cause instability if Israel continues its terrorism and aggression; and that it is not only the Palestinian people who will pay the price for Israel’s crimes. Settlers, the whole region and the whole world may pay the price. All stability will be undermined if Israel continues its attacks.
L: Did you anticipate Israel’s counter-attack to be in this magnitude?
DS: We are aware that Israel is brutal, bloody and criminal state, especially this extremist government. We know what they can do. But we did not know that the Israeli government does not care about its prisoners and soldiers in the Gaza Strip. That it can even resort to killing them if only to ensure that this leadership or the Israeli fascist government achieves political and electoral gains in its internal competitions.
Israel has even ignored the humanitarian calls made by the Palestinian resistance since day one of this battle for the release of civilian prisoners or civilian detainees for humanitarian reasons.
We have said this and called for it [humanitarian calls]. Hamas has also called for it. However, Israel has not paid attention and has continued to carry out criminal and bloody bombing and destruction that has made victims even of Israeli civilians and foreign nationalities. Israel did not care at all for its civilian prisoners, not even the military personnel in the hands of the Palestinian resistance.
Indiscriminate and destructive shelling occurred whether there were Israeli prisoners, foreign nationals, or others. Entire neighborhoods were exterminated with its residents, civilians, or prisoners held by the Palestinian resistance.
Israel showed no respect even for minimum humanitarian and moral values in the Gaza Strip, especially in the areas of Gaza governorate and in northern Gaza.
L: What is the vision of a free Palestine? What do you intend to do with Israeli residents who were already born and residing in Israel for so long?
To be clear, all this land is for Palestinians and like any country in the world, when we take full rights and sovereignty over our land, then the government chosen by the Palestinian people can decide how to deal with foreign expatriates, whether Jews or non-Jews.
We have no problem with Jews; we have no problem with anyone. Our problem is with Israeli Zionists who occupied our land. We have positive and good relations with many Jews in the world. They never believe in occupation. They reject the occupation. We have no problem with them.
The problem is with Israeli Zionists who came and occupied our land and established a state on our land. Now when we take the right to our land and be liberated, we can choose our own government.. This government, like any government in the world, can decide on these nationals: grant them nationalities or not grant them.
The problem is that Israel is the occupier. We, therefore, treat the Israeli people as occupying our land. They are all occupiers, but upon our liberation, we will decide on it. Like any country in the world, you decide on it.
Just like the United States of America. It can or cannot grant citizenship to a person. Also it can or cannot grant any person the right to reside in its territory.
Moreover, there are laws and legislations provided for in the constitutions and laws of the United States on matters of asylum, residency, and nationality.
This matter applies to different countries of the world as well. Also, why is it permissible for a group of countries, such as NATO member states, to establish an alliance with each other and have joint defense agreement but other countries could not? This is a natural right that Palestine exercises when it, too, has entered into an alliance with other countries such as Iran, Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, and other countries or other powers, to support the cause of the Palestinian people.
L: An alliance of different resistance movements is now formed, are there other political forces working at a different direction? How was this unity achieved?
DS: We welcome any party that wants to support us as Palestinians and we will not stand against it. But it is important that there is no interference in our policies and in our method of work. That is, no one should intervene.
The Palestinian resistance has independent positions and are not linked to any foreign agendas as claimed by the Israeli occupation and other countries that support it. We are going to achieve a more comprehensive Palestinian unity.
Today, we are more confident than ever before in our ability to achieve internal Palestinian reconciliation. The great plight of the Palestinian people today as a result of the Israeli aggression requires building true unity, especially as some countries are trying to interfere in our affairs and imposing the form and method of managing ourselves.
We know how to manage ourselves and know how to decide our destiny. We never accept interference from any external party.
Our Arab brothers have many things in common. We all are in consensus on what things may be like in the coming days, and we will not allow Israel to impose on us the form, administration, and method of governance in the next phase.
L: What could possibly threaten this unity?
Israel is the constant threat to Palestinian unity.
Israel, which kills the sons of Fatah, the sons of Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) and the DFLP (Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine-Marxist Leninist organization), and kills all the Palestinian people in the West Bank. Israel is the most serious threat to internal Palestinian unity. It has always been a major obstacle to achieving Palestinian unity.
Today, everyone is fully aware that there is no future for a settlement with Israel and that Israel is a bloody, criminal, and terrorist entity. In the long term, we believe that this conviction will promote greater efforts to overcome internal political differences and lead to building a true Palestinian unity created by the Palestinians.
This is a right exercised by all occupied nations and subjected to aggression, but won their independence at the end.
There is no occupation that lasts forever, not in all human history. We seek our freedom.
Therefore, our vision is despite all Israeli threats our resistance will be further strengthened. Israel will not be able to end the resistance, because as long as there is an occupation, the resistance will remain. This is a natural thing, and we are confident that we are closer to victory.
L: The struggle of the Palestinians is now at the center stage of the world, gathering millions of supporters. Would you consider this a political victory?
DS: The whole world today is looking at the Palestinian people, the injustice done to them and the need for the Palestinian people to exercise their rights. We are committed to use all our rights throughout our land. This is what we hope to achieve.
There are free people in the world. There are countries, peoples of the world, that have become more biased towards justice and truth regardless of their religion or belief—whether they are Jews, Christians, Muslims or any other religion.
Today, there is a great deal of empathy and support for the Palestinian people, including Arabs, foreigners and people of all races and ethnicities. There is great sympathy for the Palestinian cause. There is great support for the right of the Palestinian people to resist, regardless of the positions of the colonial countries.
We do not expect anything from Britain, for example, or the British government. Britain is known to be a colonial country. France is a colonial country. The United States of America is the main sponsor of all the chaos that prevails in the world. It created chaos in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan and in other countries. The American experiments—even when America wanted to create governments in its own mold—failed miserably and put these countries into misery, and their future became sorry and uncertain.
L: Having demonstrated the higher unity and capacity for waging this war of liberation, what are the prospects now?
DS: People always create their freedom with their own hands. Today, the Palestinian people have decided to create their freedom and write the future of their children by their own hands.
We defend the future of future generations. We defend the future of our children in future generations. They should live a decent, safe and stable life like other peoples of the world. But to remain under siege and suffer the injustice practiced against us by Israel, and to remain hostage to the policies of starvation, killing, and ignorance practiced by Israel against us, this can never happen. Yes, today we are making great sacrifices.
But these sacrifices will be a light of hope for a real bright future for the next generations.
The world now faces a test. All countries in the world are facing a real test. This world has raised great principles.
All peoples of the world have had bitter experiences with injustice, with tyranny, with oppression, with colonialism. People have experienced great and harsh experiences and have come up with a number of charters and laws that have begun to govern relations between countries and have begun to determine the fate of peoples and the right of peoples to independence and to live in dignity.
Today, the world faces the test of whether to be loyal and honest with itself, and to take sides with these values and principles, which were the result of a great deal of wars and bloody, deadly and destructive conflicts.
The world came up with these pacts: Today!
Either we are loyal to these charters and are honest with ourselves, or we will return to the square of bloody and deadly conflicts and return to experiences practiced or experienced by humanity decades ago.
L: What is your take on the role of Israel’s allies and supporters?
DS: We must always remember that the American colonial mind can never tell people how they can live. America has killed hundreds of thousands of Japanese and non-Japanese people in its grinding wars and destructive wars.
This is the United States of America that threatens the whole world today and dominates the whole world with its terrorist force, its nuclear weapons and its deadly weapons supplied today to Israel to subjugate the Palestinian people.
We must see the United States for what it really is. It is not a civilization, it has not created civilization, has not created stability, but has created ways for itself to dominate the whole world. Today is the time for the world to be free from American domination, from slavery to the US dollar, and for the world to take sides with justice.
There can be no justice in the light of the continued occupation of the land of Palestine, the occupation of the Palestinian people, and the continued suffering of the Palestinian people among the other peoples of the world who are also suffering as a result of American and Western colonial policies.
The whole world is a victim of the policies of Europe and America’s colonial policies. Colonial countries plundered the world’s wealth. It destroyed the world, destroyed the world economy, and dominated the world.
Today, there is a true awakening in many countries and peoples in the world, and It must be strengthened and must continue. ###