Human Rights in the Gaza Strip violated by Hamas, not Israel: Edelstein
The Editor-in-Chief of the Oslo Times International News Network, Hatef Mokhtar in conversation with Israel’s Speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Yoel Edelstein, in Osloon Friday.
Yuli Yoel Edelstein is the Speaker of the Knesset, the unicameral legislature of Israel. He plays an important role in Israeli Politics and as the speaker will also be responsible for filling the role of the President if and when the President is incapacitated.
Mr. Edelstein in a brief interview with the Editor-in-Chief of The Oslo Times International News Network, Hatef Mokhtar, spoke about pertaining Human Right Issues across the Middle East. The Excerpts below are an edited version of the original interview.
Thank you very much for sparing some of your precious time to talk to The Oslo Times International News Network, And It is an honour to have you with us.Firstly, let me clarify that The Oslo Times is an independent news network and over 55 percent of our stories are based on Human Rights issues across the world, so the questions that I will ask you today will be based on Issues related to Human Right Infringement.
According to Human Right Groups across the world, who are keeping a keen eye on the situation in the Gaza Strip there have been serious violations of Human Rights in that region, what do you have to say to this?
I feel human rights in the Gaza strip were violated, they were violated by Hamas, because, as you know, when the government is not trying to protect its citizens but is rather using its citizens to protect their weapons and missiles, this is a serious violation of human rights. And, I think it’s a very sad situation.
For the first time this time, you could hear Palestinians openly saying it in front of the media that they are tired of their Hamas leaders, who are living a luxurious life in sophisticated hotels abroad, while they as citizens are left to face a military crisis. So, they are not willing to tolerate this anymore.
I think this is a big challenge for the world, right now because if the world continues to feel bad and keeps sending money to Gaza, then Hamas will grab all this money and start re-establishing itself. This will lead to a continuation of terrible violations of human rights. If for a change there is in an effort to to control the situation in Gaza by helping ordinary families ensure their basic right then we may be able to solve this crisis. Before we can talk about achievements we need to talk about the very basic rights of the people, like their basic to eat properly, to raise their children properly, to work. I think it’s big a challenge for the whole world today.
Don’t you think the methods Israel undertook were Barbaric too? There were a lot of civilian casualties during the strikes by Israel.
Fighting in an urban area against a terrorist organisation which has no limits, is a challenge for any military, and to tell you that there were no civil casualties would be wrong, because you are right there were civilian casualties, women and children because sometimes they were in the wrong place at the wrong time or they were being used as Human shields by the Hamas. However, let me tell you there have also been cases where the Israeli air force pilots have put off strikes because the Hamas military commanders they were targeting were surrounded by women, children, or other civilians.
This is always a big challenge, casualties happen, having said all that we need to remember that the casualties caused to a very big extent is caused by Hamas, because is Hamas had not caused violence no one would have attacked Gaza.
What do you think about IS the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria?
Well, I think they are a terrible danger to the stability in the region. When you see the IS, its really difficult to see anything positive about them with their ideology, beheadings, rape and murder but I am trying to see a positive side to it, because they have put a mirror in front of the faces of many in the middle east. And, all of a sudden even in Israel we hear voices from pretty militant Islamic organizations saying, ” wait, wait, wait, this is not Islam, we are not like that, we don’t want to be like that “. And, I hope and hope and pray that it will be a kind of an eye opener, A stop sign a red sign to many who without thinking were moving further and further with their rhetoric’s and behavior towards extremism.
There is a big coalition being formed against IS, under the leadership of the US, is Israel a part of this coalition?
No Israel is not a part of this coalition, there have been reports that we have been asked to help with the intelligence and stuff like that, but I wouldn’t comment on those reports. Israel is not fighting in any way. Also, I would like to warn that there is a general saying in world politics, that if you are my ‘Enemies, Enemy is my friend’, what I am trying to say is that not everyone who is an enemy of ISIS is our friend. Look particularly at Iran, the Iranian Regime which is violating the rights of its own citizens and is also trying to develop its own nuclear weapons. Iran is already developing missiles, which can easily target anywhere in Europe and not just Israel. If you look at the range of these missiles you realise they can easily target any location even further off than Israel.
I think this could be very dangerous, you have already mentioned this wide coalition between ISIS and we shouldn’t fight evil with evil. It is a very dangerous game.
So you consider them as Evil?
Isis is definitely evil, but I feel the coalition should not include forces which could develop and misuse the coalition and become not a part of the solution but rather a part of the problem. I am sure you know about this and it has happened in so many instances across the world that certain groups inside a coalition turn into a bigger problem.
My Last, question is about Iran, what do you think is the difference between the past government run by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the one run by Hassan Rouhani today? What are your views on Iran’s new government, do you see any change in their policy?
I would say if I see any difference its a very dangerous difference, because if it were for some change in terms of the regime in Iran, or human rights or their attitude towards their own people then I would probably say, you know what- there is hope. Because we know how these things happened in Eastern Europe or the former Soviet Union, I think in the mid-eighties when the former Soviet Union wanted to establish the changes they didn’t have in mind that this whole country will disappear, they thought of some liberalization. So, I could say if this Rouhani starts some reforms, okay this is probably something to give it a chance. But, unfortunately, we don’t see any reforms inside Iran, what we see is the ‘smile diplomacy’. He does not appear the way Ahmadinejad appeared by saying you have to kill all the Americans, you have to kill all the Jews…no he is smiling, he knows English, he speaks softly, but there is no real change. And,I am very much afraid that they will be countries that are deceived by this smile and one thing we have to keep in mind, there is always this speculation on whether they are one year away from nuclear weapons or they are five years away from nuclear weapons or they are just two months away from Nuclear weapons. However, there is something we cannot speculate or argue about, once they are too close to producing nuclear weapons, it will be too late. Then, the rest of the world will be like oh we made a terrible mistake. At that point we won’t be able to do anything because if they get their hands on nuclear weapons they will spit on the face of the rest of the world and they will behave the way they want and this will be a very difficult situation for all of us.
Do you have a message for our international readers?
Yes, I think that it is very important that people put a stress on the issues of human rights as it would help a lot in international dialogue and at the same time I would encourage people to think not only about what is happening but also why its happening and how its happening. When we treat the symptoms and not the disease it may be very dangerous. So we have to take a closer look at the reasons behind the disease. If violations of Human Rights diminishes than we can step forward towards a much better society.
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