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“Do You Hear the Bombing?”: Gazan Human Rights Lawyer Raji Sourani Describes Israeli Siege of Gaza City

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“Do you hear the bombing?” asks our guest Raji Sourani in Gaza City, as Israel reportedly bombed the Islamic University of Gaza nearby him and intensified its bombardment after it declared war against Hamas. The award-winning human rights lawyer and director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza describes the situation in Gaza, where Israel has now cut off food and electricity, and responds to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telling Gazans to leave, calling it “nonsense,” and asks, “Where to? We don’t have safe passage.”

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go from Orly Noy right now in Jerusalem — you can hear the wind blow on her mic as she talks to us about the Israeli reaction — to Raji Sourani, head of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza. I want to go to you quickly, Raji, because I understand you’re experiencing unprecedented bombing in your area. Can you describe what’s happening in Gaza? The media in the United States, there’s almost no one in Gaza to bring us voices of Gazans. Raji, can you hear us?

RAJI SOURANI: — the last 60 hours, I mean, Gaza subject to nonstop bombing. It’s ongoing all over the place. There is no single place you can call a safe haven in Gaza, airplane fighters, drones ruling all over the sky. And it’s your lottery number, whether it’s an apartment, whether it’s tower with hundreds of apartments, whether it’s a house, whether it’s a hospital, whether it’s a school, a shelter used by UNRWA. I mean, even the marketplace of Jabaliya, the biggest refugee camp in the Middle East for Palestinians — 300,000 Palestinians there — were bombed, and almost 80 have been killed, I mean, this morning, and tens injured in very, very critical situation. And all this is happening in the daylight, and no one is caring about that.

Netanyahu says Gazans should leave Gaza. Where to? Even we don’t have safe passage. And the minister of defense say, “We are going to cut electricity, water, food, oil” — everything, I mean, will be cut on Gaza. So, 2.4 million civilians in Gaza are subject to unprecedented situation, which it’s very genocidal.

It’s coming from the highest level in Israel. If they have a problem with Hamas, we have no problem. They can contact them. If they have with Jihad Islamic, with Fatah, with the fighters of the resistance, that’s fine. This is not our area of interest. But our area of interest, it’s the civilians, and the civilians who are really in the eye of the storm, and they are the subject for the Israeli ongoing crimes.

And still Mr. KK, the ICC prosecutor, keeps silent, doing nothing, moving nowhere in this conflict, and doesn’t hold Israel accountable for the ongoing crimes they committed over the course of years — suppression, oppression, killing, blockade, apartheid — name it. I mean, all the menu of the crimes are there, which listed at Rome Statute, and no one is moving. No one is moving to provide any level of protection toward Palestinian civilians.

Once and again, this is going on now. At the course of these 60 or 70 hours, I mean, we’re having hundreds of people have been killed. Just children, we have above 100 children have been killed. Women, almost the same number. And the worst yet to come. We are sure, and we know that.

AMY GOODMAN: The Israeli prime minister has told Gazans to leave. It’s unclear, of course, where you’d be able to go. Then they said that he was misunderstood, that he was saying you should leave the Hamas sites in Gaza. Can you respond to this, Raji Sourani?

RAJI SOURANI: This is nonsense. This is nonsense. He is leading Smotrich and Ben-Gvir. He is leading people who say Palestinians don’t exist, and who said, “Palestinians should leave. This is the land of Israel. This is the historical land of Israel, and we are taking over. There is no other state, and there is no other people. There is one people. There is one self-determination. It’s for the Israeli Jews.” So, he’s a big liar. It wasn’t a slip of tongue. He came after cabinet meeting and after a meeting with his top security and military people, and he was reading from a paper. So, it cannot be a mistake. He knows what he said, and he meant what he said. And I do believe what they are doing, deliberately, will lead to that, if this is continued and they don’t stop.

AMY GOODMAN: What level of support does Hamas have — Hamas is the government of Gaza — right now, since Saturday morning, the actions of the thousands or so Hamas fighters breaching the wall?

RAJI SOURANI: I don’t think it’s matter — I don’t think it’s matter of the people’s support or not. You have to know, when you are suppressed deeply by a criminal, belligerent occupation, when you are suffocated — do you hear? Do you hear the bombing?

AMY GOODMAN: We hear it.

RAJI SOURANI: And here right now the entire house shaking, while I’m talking to you. I’m living in the best area of Gaza — all right? — and should be away from every problem, but everything around us has been bombed. And you don’t know, never, your lottery number, when it can be. There is no safe haven in this place. I lived all my life in this part of the world. I lived the mathematics and the chemistry. But I never, ever witnessed anything as such. And I’m telling you, I mean, if the Israelis made it — and they did — the land incursion, situation will be much, much worse than this. Massacres will happen, I mean, to civilians.

AMY GOODMAN: You have heard, I assume, that Israeli tanks and military equipment are making their way to Gaza right now. So you’re being bombed by the air, but the question is: Will there be a total land invasion? Can you respond to what this means? Just to give people a sense, you’re talking about this strip of land, Gaza, that’s about the size of Detroit. There are about 600,000 people in Detroit. We’re talking about 2.4 million people. It’s one of the most densely populated areas on Earth. Raji, if you could take it from there?

RAJI SOURANI: Exactly, Amy. Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas on Earth, as you know. And if the army comes in, it will be like elephant in the garden. But I don’t think any would love to be a good victim. They want to strip us not from our own security. They don’t want to strip us from the food of our children. They were not satisfied of having this criminal, belligerent occupation. They are not satisfied with the blockade. They are not satisfied with the killing and the bombing and [inaudible] wars that’s been happening in the last 10 years. But they want to do more. I think it’s not human to be a good victim. We are the stones of the valley. We have been here since ever. We will continue here forever. And I think, I mean, if the Israelis did that, that means they are just melting the people of Palestine, of Gaza, just to be one body defending their very existence. This is our right and obligation. As the French say, resistance, it’s not only, I mean, right, it’s your dignity, Amy. And people shouldn’t be good victim for a criminal, belligerent occupation.

When Russia invaded Ukraine and occupied Ukraine, the whole world stopped, and they said, “We cannot support Russia, and we have to support the Ukrainians against the occupation of the Russians. And we will support them not only politically. We will support them with money. We will support them with arms. We will support them with all what we can.” And they asked all the free people of Europe and U.S. to go and join the forces and to join the resistance in Ukraine against the occupation.

I don’t know why Palestinians, if they die, are a criminal; if we think, we are a criminal and terrorist; if we do peaceful intifada, we are terrorists. And when the Israelis doing massacres, one after another, they’re just being supported, as had happened yesterday, by U.S. and by major European countries. It’s shame. It’s shame to leave Israel practicing the rule of jungle in this way against the Palestinian civilians.

AMY GOODMAN: I’m not sure if the —

RAJI SOURANI: All what we want — all what we want is simple and clear: end of occupation. We want dignity and freedom, period, like any other people on Earth.

AMY GOODMAN: Raji, I’m not sure if this is the blast we just heard, but Middle East Eye is reporting Israel just bombed the Islamic University of Gaza. Is that near you?

RAJI SOURANI: It’s exactly 800 meters from me. And that’s when I wasn’t able, Amy, to talk to you. I mean, the entire building was like collapsing on our head.

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