Following is a WorldNetDaily exclusive interview with Abu Abir, spokesman of the Popular Resistance Committees, a network of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorists. The Committees has taken responsibility for many of the mortars and Qassam rockets fired at Israeli towns the past few years and for more than a dozen suicide bombings. It was also blamed for the bombing of a U.S. convoy in Gaza in October 2003, killing three Americans. The interview was translated from Arabic by Ali Waked.
WND: On Sunday the Israeli Defense Forces found a Qassam rocket just outside Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Sycamore ranch, located a few kilometers from Sderot, the town at which over 20 rockets were fired immediately following Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza last month. Do you take responsibility for the rocket?
ABIR: The period mentioned by the Israelis regarding that rocket is that it was fired three weeks ago. At that time we and Hamas launched many rockets, and I cannot confirm which of the two organizations is responsible for that specific attack, but it is obvious that the Palestinian resistance has improved its capacities in shooting these rockets . Even the Israeli officers agreed that the improvement is at all levels. To begin with, the distance that these rockets can reach, the capacity of explosives and their accuracy. In the last five years there is no doubt that our abilities have improved.
WND: Are you targeting Sharon with rockets?
ABIR: We have a very accurate map of Sderot of each and every street in and near the city including Sharon’s ranch. During the intifada we launched many rockets at the ranch, and thanks to God, every new rocket firing gets closer to its goal [of hitting Sharon.]. The rocket attacks against Sderot cause larger and larger damages to the Israelis and we saw in the last week the state of panic of [Israeli Defense Minister Shaul] Mofaz when we shot at Sderot.
We shall use these rockets against Sderot, against Sharon’s ranch and against every city in Israel any time there is need to do so. The Israelis shall wait for surprises from the Palestinian resistance.
WND: What do you mean ‘against every city’? Are you saying you will fire rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv?
ABIR: Yes. Israel bombards all the Palestinian regions and the Israelis must know that any of their regions and areas will not enjoy security if the Palestinians will not enjoy it too. They know that our rockets are improving. If there is need, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and everywhere in Israel can become our target. Israelis must also know that we have already transferred the knowledge and the technology of producing rockets to the West Bank. That means that in case of any big attack of Israel against the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, we will not hesitate to use these rockets.
It is true that before using them we will take into consideration the consequences upon the Palestinian people and we will act in a way that takes into consideration the collective interest of the Palestinians, but the rule is that we will respond using rockets every time Israel launches a big attack against the Palestinian people. The suicide attacks are becoming too hard to be carried out, therefore rockets are the best alternative and our abilities in the West Bank are ready for using them.
WND: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is due to meet President Bush in Washington tomorrow. Aren’t you afraid this interview will embarrass Abbas?
ABIR: I don’t see why the PA should be embarrassed. The leadership of the PA knows that the great majority of the Palestinian people support the Palestinian resistance. This same majority knows that the Gaza withdrawal was due to the resistance. Furthermore, most of the Palestinian people are members in the resistance organizations. What is needed is that the PA must behave according to the Palestinian public opinion, to their belief that Gaza was liberated by these rockets.
I must say that we never took the initiative to launch these rockets and they were launched only as a response to the Israeli attacks. The PA should know our operations are in order to defend the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority. It is time the PA understands that the Israelis do not differentiate between the Palestinian resistance organizations, the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority.
WND: Your Committee claimed responsibility for the bombing of a U.S. convoy in the Gaza Strip in October 2003, killing three American guards. Later you denied responsibility. Four of your men were arrested by the PA and later let go. I have interviewed the families of the killed American men. They are furious and they want justice. Tell me the truth about the bombing, did your group do it?
ABIR: It is the media that pushed us into that story because of one anonymous phone call that was made to a press agency and claimed responsibility on behalf of the Committees for that attack. We officially denied any relation, but unfortunately the PA decided to push us consciously into this affair and declared that we were responsible and arrested four of our men. After a long investigation, it was discovered that those men had no relation to the incident and a judge in the Palestinian court decided to free them, but [the late Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser] Arafat decided not to respect the decision and kept them in jail. Therefore we were obliged to free them by force and to apply by arm the judge’s decision. We informed all the local and international sides that we don’t have any relation to the bombing affair and although many Palestinians were killed by American tanks and weapons used by the Israeli army, we do not target the Americans.
WND: Meanwhile, the Americans are still asking the PA to arrest your members for the bombing. The file is still open. How would your group react of the PA re-arrests your people?
ABIR: We will not allow any arrests of our men. We declared that we had no relation to the incident and we shall not accept any try of anybody to make political profits that could turn us into victims. The PA is convinced that we do not have any relation to the convoy explosion.
WND: The Israeli, the U.S. and the international community is demanding that your group and others disarm before you can be allowed to participate in Palestinian legislative elections this January. Any plans to disarm your group?
ABIR: This is a pathetic demand. Bush thinks he is God Almighty. We are Muslims and we are ready and capable of defending ourselves and our right to participate in these elections. This is an interior Palestinian affair and we shall not allow the Americans to interfere in it. We will participate like all the other Palestinian organizations. Every Palestinian organization that had shot a single bullet against the occupation has the right to participate in the elections, and I’m wondering, did Sharon shoot us with roses?
WND: Israel has now withdrawn from the Gaza Strip. Was this a victory for your so-called resistance operations?
ABIR: The withdrawal from Gaza had nothing to do with the political and diplomatic negotiations which for 10 years brought nothing to the Palestinian people. It has nothing to do neither with the so-called Israel’s unilateral decision. Actually it was more a ‘running away’ step of the Israeli army than a withdrawal. Sharon himself said in Gush Katif, ‘I prefere that we cry with tears than with blood.’ We exhausted the Israeli army which during the last month received tens of killed soldiers, hundreds of rockets, suicide attacks … and the Israelis concluded that if they will not run away they will lose more victims.
WND: So is your plan now to take that victory and continue on to ‘liberate’ the West Bank?
ABIR: We have one important guideline. According to this guideline we will not leave Sharon to escalate his aggressions against the Palestinian people in the West Bank. We were not born to liberate Gaza. The struggle will continue until the liberation of Jerusalem and what remains of the West Bank. We are one unified Palestinian people and one blood. We will not let the Israelis separate this blood and these people. Our policy is to respond to any Israeli attack in the West Bank from the West Bank, but in case of a major Israeli attack or a big massacre, we in Gaza shall not stay handicapped.
WND: Let’s say the Jews grant your wishes and give you the West Bank and the eastern sections of Jerusalem. Will that be the end of it? Peace between your nations? Or do you want Jews out of all lands?
ABIR: Gaza was the first step. The next one shall be the West Bank. Following the West Bank we will chase the Israelis until they leave Jerusalem. The struggle will end only when the Jews will leave all of our land. For many of us Gaza isn’t our home. We are refugees in Gaza. Our homes are in Jaffa, Lod and Ramla. We advise every Jew who came to be a settler in our land, to go back to the place where he came from. We will not keep a place for their bones or even for their graves. The struggle is for the whole Palestine. All this land is Palestine, and if the Jews want to rescue themselves they should run away.