The following is a very important interview with a spokesperson of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Marxist-Leninist organization that is a leading part of the resistance in Gaza, by the Maan New Agency from Jan. 17th.
Gaza/Bethlehem – Ma’an Exclusive – The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and its armed wing, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, is currently embroiled in battles against Israeli ground troops in the Gaza Strip, while continuing to launch projectiles across the Green Line toward Israel.
Ma’an spoke with an official spokesperson of the leftist, secular movement in Gaza to shed some light on the current fight with Israel and the state of Palestinian politics vis-à-vis both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
The following interview was conducted via email:
Ma’an: What is the Popular Front’s position on why Israel launched its massive onslaught in Gaza?
PFLP: Israel launched its massacres and war crimes against our people in line with a historic objective – an attempt to eliminate the Palestinian resistance, particularly in Gaza. Much as it sought to do in Lebanon in 2006, it aimed to separate the resistance from the people and secure an elimination of the resistance and undermining our Palestinian cause and the rights of our people.
Israel’s schemes against our people and our rights can only be enacted – despite the complicity of the U.S., Arab regimes and part of the Palestinian “leadership” – by the elimination of the Palestinian resistance.
Israel is learning now, despite its brutality and its utter criminality, and its practices of genocide, that much akin to Lebanon in 2006, our people are the core, the cradle and the steadfastness of our resistance, and their assaults will never defeat our people nor our determination to uphold our rights, to return, to self-determination and to sovereignty.
Ma’an: Is Israel’s air, sea and land incursion really about Hamas and the rockets?
PFLP: The rockets are both a practical and a symbolic representation of our resistance to the occupier. They are a constant reminder that the occupier is in fact an occupier, and that no matter how they may engage in sieges, massacres, fence us in, deny us the basic human needs of life, we will continue to resist and we will continue to hold fast to our fundamental rights, and we will not allow them to be destroyed. So long as one rocket is launched at the occupier, our people, our resistance and our cause is alive.
This is why they targeted the rockets – the rockets do make the occupier insecure, because every one is a symbol and a physical act of our rejection to their occupation, to their massacres, to their crimes, and to their continuing assaults on our people. Each rocket says that we will not allow their so-called “solutions” that are based on the abrogation and denial of our rights.
Ma’an: What about Israel’s upcoming parliamentary elections; did that play a role in their decision to attack Gaza?
PFLP: In addition, this was certainly related to the Israeli elections – to bolster the reputation of Kadima and particularly of Livni and Barak, on the backs and with the blood of over 1,000 Palestinian dead. That this is a distinguishing and positive factor in these elections says a great deal about the nature of Israel and Zionism.
Ma’an: How many PFLP/Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades fighters have been killed or injured during the Israeli invasion and/or airstrikes?
PFLP: We do not release such statistics or information at this time as it is only helpful to the enemy military assault on our people. However, AAMB members have been heavily active in all forms of resistance against the invaders and occupiers.
Ma’an: Have Brigades members been active in resistance against the invading army?
PFLP: AAMB [Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades] has consistently launched multiple rockets on a daily basis, and has distinguished itself particularly in the use of roadside bombs, car bombs and other explosive devices that have seriously damaged and destroyed occupation tanks and other military vehicles, and AAMB fighters are participating in all battles at all levels.
AAMB is also working intimately and in coordination with all other resistance forces in a united struggle to confront the enemy and unify our resistance to its crimes and massacres, and is involved at all levels of coordination and resistance.
Ma’an: Under what circumstances would the PFLP back a ceasefire with Israel?
PFLP: We were opposed to the so-called “calm” or “ceasefire” [from June 19 to December 19 2008] because we saw it as dangerous to our people and we believe, in the end, our analysis was proven to be correct.
Israel forced an end to the “ceasefire” through its attacks and assassinations – and then used it as an excuse to attack the Palestinian people [for example, on 4 November airstrikes killed five militants and a civilian], a goal it had all along, and using a plan of attack developed before and during the so-called “Ceasefire.”
The resistance, in a unified manner, may always decide what tactics to use at any given time. We demand an end to the massacres, an end to the occupation forces on our land, and the full, immediate and unconditional opening of all crossings – particularly Rafah crossing – and an end to the siege against our people. But we will never concede our fundamental rights – our right to resist, our right to defend our people, our right to return, our right to self-determination and sovereignty – in the name of a so-called “ceasefire,” which is what Israel wants.
Ma’an: What is the relationship between Hamas and the PFLP like today?
PFLP: The relationship between Hamas and the PFLP is defined by resistance now.
Ma’an: But the PFLP is a secular movement; does that create difficulties working with Hamas, which believes in an Islamic society and government?
PFLP: Both Hamas and the PFLP are in the camp of resistance, the camp of defending our people, our cause and our fundamental rights.
Both the PFLP and Hamas reject so-called “negotiations”, reject cooperation with the occupier, and reject any so-called political solutions based on the denial and abrogation of the rights of our people, and both stand united in resistance to the massacres and genocide being committed against the Palestinian people. This is the unity, and the relationship, that matters now – unity, in struggle, for our people, our cause, and our rights.
Ma’an: Turning to politics, what is the PFLP’s position on the legitimacy of Mahmoud Abbas, whose term officially ended on 9 January?
PFLP: The only Palestinian legitimacy that matters now is the legitimacy of resistance. This is the definition of our national unity – confronting the occupier and its crimes against our people and upholding and defending our people and our rights. The legitimacy now is not that of the “Palestinian Authority” – legitimacy is formed by standing with the resistance, with our steadfast people, against the crimes of the occupier.
Ma’an: Does the PFLP believe that, given the circumstances, Palestinians should focus on the Gaza Strip and less on domestic politics? Or is the role of Palestinian politics more important than ever?
PFLP: This is a defining moment for the Palestinian national movement and the Palestinian cause, facing an enemy bent on its destruction, and the question is for all – to be with the resistance or to stand aside and thus allow the assault to continue. Every bit of Palestinian political legitimacy at the present time derives from the answer to that question.
Ma’an: What is the state of the PFLP and other resistance organizations in the West Bank?
PFLP: The West Bank is also under a state of siege of a different type – the siege of occupation, of 11,000 political prisoners, of constant land confiscation, the settlement building, the erection of the annexation wall, and the other ongoing crimes against our people. In fact, Israel is counting on the eyes of the world to be turned away from the West Bank due to its massacres in Gaza, in order to carry out yet more land confiscation and attacks in the West Bank.
We will not allow our people, in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as in Palestine ’48 [Palestinians inside Israel] and in exile, to be divided.
Ma’an: Does the PFLP expect Palestinians outside of the Strip will rise up against the occupation, especially in light of Israel’s recent atrocities in Gaza?
PFLP: We are one nation, one people and one cause, and all of the enemy’s plans to undermine that unity will fail, and that dedication to resist and uphold our national rights to return, to self-determination, to freedom and liberation, to sovereignty, will ensure our victory and our unity of our people, our land and our cause.