quote:From Abu Shanab:
So you are calling for a protracted struggle. Do
you believe the Palestinian people can endure
that? Can they endure the distress and the
poverty and the dying for such a long time?
"It's a difficult situation. But on the other
hand, even if Palestinians stop the resistance
and the struggle, there will not be a solution,
the humiliation and the occupation will
continue, and thus they will rise up again. We
learned the lesson in the not-so-distant past:
We started the intifada in 1987, then came
Oslo, the negotiations, a cessation of all
resistance after 1996. And what happened? The
occupation continued, the building of
settlements continued, the Judaization of
Jerusalem, the building of bypass roads. All
kinds of acts of aggression on Israel's part,
which pushed people to launch the uprising."
What will happen if the struggle goes on not for
200 years but for 500? Can people think in
such time frames?
"I say the fighting will not go on day in and
day out, but there will waves of fighting.
Because the Palestinians will not forget and
will not forgive, and the Israelis, for their
part, will not stop the aggression. If at a
certain stage they succeed in stopping the
conflict anew, I believe it will erupt again
afterward. The final result will be the
restoration of the Palestinians' rights to
their land. Without that, I believe the
conflict will continue for even 500 years."
When you say restoration of rights, you mean the
removal of all the Jews?
"I am not talking about the Jews but about
Palestinians who are living a tragedy. Without
an end to that tragedy, no solution will hold
Isn't there an emotional contradiction between
your training as a physician, with the
intention of saving lives, and your position in
"In 1985, soldiers besieged my clinic in Khan
Yunis for 45 days and prevented my little
patients from getting to me. That decision was
made in order to prevent Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar
and me from establishing a nursing college. At
the same time, an Israeli girl, whose father
was a police officer in Khan Yunis, fell ill.
The treatment in Tel Aviv was unsuccessful.
They told him that only Rantisi knows how to
treat her. So he came to me. Really. I don't
remember what she had. At first I hesitated. I
thought about all the Palestinian children who
did not receive treatment. But in the end I
agreed. Allah [wanted her to get well] and
within 24 hours she was well."
Ismail Abu Shanab, Rantisi's colleague in the
Hamas leadership, who is considered more
"moderate" or "pragmatic" than Rantisi, was
willing to go into greater detail about the
internal discussion within Hamas between the
advocates of a cease-fire and the opponents of
such a move. The advocates, he said (and
according to Hamas sources he is among them)
"think it is preferable to show it is the
Palestinians who want peace, whereas Israel
under the leadership of Ariel Sharon and
[Defense Minister Shaul] Mofaz do not want
peace. A cease-fire will also make it possible
to tear the mask off the road map, to prove
that it is a security arrangement and not a
"The opponents say a cease-fire will be an
opportunity for Sharon to stop the intifada, to
say that the military approach is victorious,
that `I forced the Palestinians to stop.'
Stopping the intifada will help the Israeli
According to that line of thought, Hamas
believes that your struggle in the past three
years has been crowned with victories.
Abu Shanab: "The Palestinians' ability to
withstand all this military might is a victory
in itself. Sharon thought he would overcome the
intifada within two months. All that military
power failed to vanquish the Palestinians.
Israel is facing tremendous security, military
and economic problems. Israel, a military
power, cannot prevent the Palestinians from
manufacturing a strategic weapon, however
modest and small it is: It is not preventing
the firing of Qassam rockets."