Hamas leader in Lebanon: They make us look like militants, but we are peaceful people

Hamas leader in Lebanon: Hezbollah is our big brother, and together we will defeat Israel

Pravda.Ru special correspondent Daria Aslamova spoke with Hamas representative in Lebanon, Dr. Ahmad Abd al-Hadi. He spoke about Hamas activaties in Lebanon, how the movement is helping the Palestinians there, why the United States does not want to escalate the conflict in the Middle East, what prevents Hezbollah from opening a second front in support of Gaza and why it is only Benjamin Netanyahu who needs a war in the Gaza Strip.

How can we introduce you to our viewers?

I am a Hamas representative in Lebanon Ahmad Abd al-Hadi.

What goals and objectives does Hamas set for itself in Lebanon, and how can you help your Palestinian compatriots in this situation?

We are a very large, one of the largest Palestinian organizations in Lebanon. Our representatives, our members are in different Palestinian camps in Lebanon, represented everywhere throughout the country. This means that Palestinians in Lebanon live not only in camps, there are places where people live compactly in the territories of Lebanese cities outside the camps, and also in all large cities we have our own cells, our own offices, that is, we work with people and with members of our organization. And we try to work in different directions.

So, since we are here outside the borders of our homeland, our main problem, our task, is to return home. That is, what do we ultimately want to achieve?

We want refugees to return to their homes to implements their rights for it - to go back to their homeland. There are so many different plans. They are trying to either assimilate us, give us passports to so that we become Lebanese citizens, or drive us out somewhere, resettle us even further, so that we become refugees again. But this all seems to run counter to what we want, and we are still trying to instruct on the implementation of our rights, because this is a human right for a person to live in the place of his or her homeland. Everything we do, all our activities, ultimately have a goal to bring refugees back home. 

Another task of ours is to prevent them from assimilating, because we have our own dialect, we have some of our own cultural traditions, we have everything so that the Palestinians do not become the Lebanese, because we are a different nation , and for 75 years we are still trying to preserve this - this is also our task. Because if we are torn away from our roots, which is what many people are trying to do, very persistently, and, relatively speaking, offering perhaps better living conditions - in a nutshell, they want people to abandon their principles to get the carrot. If we lose this, we will cease to be a people. That is why this is very important for us. We will simply lose our identity.

How many Palestinians are there in total?

Previously there were about 600,000. But then there was a civil war, and now there is an economic crisis, and, as a result, people are trying to go somewhere, to migrate to other countries, so today there are, we think, about 200,000 left. And even all these people who go abroad, they live there, they work, they are still considered to be Palestinians in Lebanon. That is why, in fact, most likely, we have about 200,000 people, but they can return at any moment, and there will be 600 again.

I came, of course, to discuss what is happening now, the war that Hamas is waging against Israel. I wanted to know your opinion, what is the likelihood that a war will break out between Israel and Lebanon?

So, here on Lebanese territory the main fighting force is Hezbollah, they took upon themselves, as it were, the responsibility to fight the enemy. It's not full scale, it's most likely a harassing fire, but it helps the people in Gaza, it pulls back forces, it makes the security of all of Israel questionable, because not only the southern regions, but also now the northern ones have problems, they cause problems for them. And this means that now our fighters, together with Hezbollah, are taking part in battles in an alliance. Our people are involved with Hezbollah in an alliance, they take part in battles, and also in the resistance movement in southern Lebanon called Al-Qassam Brigades in Lebanon. And so they jointly began to eliminate our leaders, the leaders of Hezbollah, and the leaders of Hamas, which is what we have seen recently.

On January 2, Mr. al-Arouri was killed. That was a serious attack. 

Aruri used to live in Istanbul, that is, he was not here permanently, he was responsible for the resistance movement on the West Bank of the Jordan. There was an attempt on his life, but besides him, our comrades, who were from Lebanon, also died, that is, one from Istanbul, the rest were local. That was, a very big and painful blow.

But what about you now? Israel carried out an attack on January 2 in Beirut, right in the very heart of Lebanon. This shows that virtually all Hamas members are being targeted. Have you been attacked personally?

Of course, we understand that we are all being hunted. Even sometimes we are informed that something may happen, through some other sources in the security agencies. We are, of course, taking some precautions, but we can’t hide and sit at home, because we have to work, and now is the time when our homeland really needs us.

What is your relationship with Hezbollah? Are you allies, military allies, political allies? How can you formulate it?

Of course, all the details about what type of cooperation we have exactly are known to those who are involved in it directly.  But Hezbollah is like an older brother in Lebanon, because they are Lebanese, and we are not only in Lebanon, we also cooperate with them in other countries, but they are big, we are smaller.

Is there a problem that you are Sunni and they are Shiite?

Despite the fact that we represent different branches of Islam, we try to avoid such problems, because we don’t even have some kind of theological relationship, we are engaged in the fact that we are trying to liberate our homeland, that is, this is patriotism, and it does not have a religious connotation. We are not only in Lebanon, we are really in other countries, we cooperate very fruitfully, and such problems did not arise between us, because we want to liberate our homeland, and Hezbollah helps us with it. 

Everyone is wondering why Hezbollah did not open a second front to help Hamas and Palestine? Why is this so? And will a second front be opened?

Hezbollah is forced to act with caution, because if a full-scale war breaks out, they will bomb the same way they did in Lebanon in 2006. That is, there will be very much, like in Gaza, the same inadequate response, and it will be very bad for Lebanon, you need to think about the Lebanese too, so as not to really turn Lebanon into Gaza. But already from the 8th, Hezbollah got involved, opened fire, and we can say that the intensity is growing, all this tension is growing, growing along the entire border, they are already opening fire on the entire border, they are fighting. They do not yet have an opportunity to act as they would like to, because behind them there are people here, also about 5-6 million. It is also impossible to disrupt the lives of these people, because perhaps this is what Israel is trying to achieve.

There is an opinion that Israel, when it adopted such a tough response to Gaza, and in general an attempt to deal with the Palestinians, there is a long-term goal, ultimately, to drag the collective West into a war with Iran. Do you think that this is a regional war, and there is a bigger war being planned with Iran, and this is just the beginning.

I think that the Americans don’t want a big war here, for it to grow to unprecedented limits, because, firstly, then, even if Iran doesn’t get involved now, the resistance forces including in Yemen will open fire on Israel, but if Iran steps in, it will be very bad for it, it could be destroyed. Besides, the Americans have their own interests here in the region. If a big war breaks out, naturally, these interests will suffer. That is, I don’t think that they really want some kind of Third World War with the participation of Iran in our region. This means that I think that the Americans themselves do not want, firstly, to participate here, because they will get bogged down just like in Afghanistan, in Iraq, but maybe they want from here, from the region, Russia and China somehow push it back, maybe do something unstable so that the interests of these countries here will suffer. On the contrary, I think that the Americans are trying to prevent a big war here, because there is only one person who needs a big war - this is Netanyahu. When everything calms down, he will go to trial, and they will be judged not only for what is happening now, but also for their actions of the past. He has had a lot of prosecutions, everything will be remembered for him. That is, on the contrary, I think that it is not beneficial for the Americans for everything to grow here. The Americans themselves come to us almost every day and send, persuade their comrades to come to Lebanon and persuade Hezbollah not to start a large-scale war with Israel, that is, every day we have here either some French, or Qataris, or ( not clear), Oman, that is, everyone comes to us to persuade Hezbollah, and the Americans are behind them all. That is, this is precisely an indicator that they really cannot cope with Netanyahu, who is inciting a war, and are trying to extinguish it from the other side. And also they are not only in Lebanon, of course, they send all sorts of negotiators, they try to talk with Iran through all sorts of third parties, so that Iran calms down its Houthis, so that a war does not grow bigger and remains local, restricted to the south of Lebanon and Palestine.

When I said that the ultimate goal is a war with Iran, I did not mean the collective West itself. I believe that it is Israel that wants to drag in the collective West and start a big war with Iran.

It is also impossible to say that all of Israel wants war, because there is still quite a strong opposition there that does not want this, and the army does not want to fight. But there is Netanyahu himself and several of his friends in the cabinet, it is him who is inflating everything. In Lebanon, we have had a terrible economic crisis going on for many years now. It hits the Lebanese very hard and, naturally, it hit the Palestinians very hard, because they are even less protected. And we are also trying to organize some kind of help for people, that is, we are also working in this direction, because people have nothing to eat. Our work is basically not even a war, that is, we are not a military organization, we are a political party, and we are also trying to organize some kind of charitable activities with our people, say, organizing gifts for religious holidays, and help those who needs money most. That is, we are peaceful people. We work in all directions. We are all portrayed as such armed, evil militants, but in fact we work in educational, charitable, and cultural fields. This is what we do most of the time.

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Author`s name Daria Aslamova
Editor Dmitry Sudakov