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– Making Gaza livable will take decades – Dagsavisen

– Making Gaza livable will take decades – Dagsavisen

for whom: Khatib line (40)

What: Chairman of the Palestine Committee

Why: Sunday, April 7, marks half a year since the Hamas attack against Israel that led to the outbreak of war in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian authorities say nearly 33,000 Palestinians have been killed since Israel declared war on Hamas after the October 7 attack. What impression does it leave you when you hear about all these fates from the Gaza Strip?

-It's very heavy. I have many friends whose family members were killed. I also have former colleagues who have been displaced and lost family members. This clearly shows that this is not a war against Hamas, but against the Palestinian people.

You told VG that you recently went to Cairo to help a friend get your family members out of the Gaza Strip, by paying large sums to an Egyptian travel agency. How was that experience?

– He was special in many ways. It turns out that the only way to save people's lives now is to pay huge sums of money to a corrupt Egyptian regime. It is unfair that some are saved in this way, while the majority do not go out and do not receive protection wherever they are. It is a very poor solution, but at the same time it is understandable that those who can do it, do it.

It seems that transporting Palestinians from the Gaza Strip has become almost a business?

– Yes, it is an Egyptian company that obtains permission from Israel to expel people from Gaza. This is happening while humanitarian actors requesting exit authorization for seriously injured people must wait. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for there to be war profiteers in wars. We also see this in Gaza.

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Professor and Middle East expert Hilde Henriksen Waag tells this to Dagsavisen The only actor that can make Israel stop the war is the United States. At the same time, you held a number of demonstrations against the war in the Palestine Committee. Do you feel helpless when you sit here in Norway and watch what is happening in the Gaza Strip?

– The United States contributes to Israel’s war by sending weapons and money. The Norwegian authorities also bear responsibility by investing in the oil fund and delivering weapons parts that end up in Israel. We in the Palestine Committee cannot influence Joe Biden, but we can influence the Norwegian authorities and their role in this war. For example, if the Norwegian Oil Fund withdraws its investments from Israeli companies that support the occupation, other investment funds will follow suit.

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It has now been half a year since Hamas attacked Israel. When do you think the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip will end?

– It is becoming more and more difficult for the United States to maintain its support for Israel. I think it is absolutely necessary for the war to end. At the same time, I unfortunately believe that this war will continue for much longer. In the long term, I believe that war will have serious consequences for Israel and for the support it has long enjoyed in the West. They could no longer maintain this support in the same way as before after that.

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What will happen to the residents of the Gaza Strip after a permanent ceasefire? What do they have to go back to?

-And this is the great tragedy here. When the attacks stop, the long war begins for the Palestinians. 60 percent of all buildings and homes were destroyed. Groundwater and soil are polluted. Making Gaza livable again is a task that will take many decades. That's the most frustrating thing about this. It's not like people can go back to their normal lives when the bombs stop.

What kind of impact do you think this conflict will have on relations between Palestinians and Israelis in the future, even after the ceasefire?

– Hamas attacks made many Israelis see the difficulty of living side by side with Palestinians. At the same time, Israel's destruction of Gaza has made it extremely difficult for Palestinians to imagine themselves being able to drive safely alongside Israelis. We have a long way to go towards reconciliation.

Palestine Committee activists have organized a number of demonstrations in Norway since the Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.  Here is the one who blocked Norges Bank in protest against the oil fund's investments.

What book means the most to you?

– The novel “Saeed Al-Babtimi” by the Palestinian writer Emile Habibi. It has already been translated into Norwegian. It is a beautiful book that tells the story of a Palestinian during the displacement of 1948, and clearly shows what it was like to live under Israeli control after the establishment of Israel. The book is about discernment and courage, but it does so with humor and sarcasm.

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What makes you happy?

– the spring. I love being in nature and watching things grow.

Who was your childhood hero?

– My grandmothers.

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What do you do when you poop?

-Then I dance.

What are you willing to march against or for?

– Of course, for the sake of a free Palestine.

– Are there other hobbies in your life?

– Yes, climate and social inequality.

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Who would you rather be stuck in an elevator with?

– Now, Joe Biden.

Well, let's say you get ten minutes alone with Joe Biden in the elevator. How will you convince him to stop supporting Israel?

– The blind support that the United States now provides to Israel is harmful to Israel. Allowing Israel to wage a war fueled by revenge and hatred will not create security or stability for either Israelis or Palestinians. If the United States truly sees itself as a friend of Israel, it should stop funding Israel's war.

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