After his home in Gaza was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in October, Palestinian human rights lawyer Raji Sourani joins us from Cairo. He says Israel is enacting a “new Nakba” in its war on Gaza, and the expulsion of all Palestinians from their homeland is the clear end goal of the Israeli state. “They want us out, out of Palestine, out of Gaza, out of the West Bank,” says Sourani. “This is genocide, this is ethnic cleansing, and these are first-class war crimes.”
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: As we continue our coverage of Gaza, we’re joined by Raji Sourani, the award-winning human rights lawyer and director of the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights. He’s a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. We last spoke with Raji Sourani after Israel bombed his home in Gaza City. He joins us today from Cairo, Egypt.
Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Raji Sourani. If you could begin by talking about how you managed to leave Gaza and how you got to Cairo?
RAJI SOURANI: Well, it was very hard and very heartbreaking for me, I mean, to leave Gaza, I mean, the place I lived all my life, one-way ticket in it. And that was very hard and very tough. But really, I mean, after I was targeted for the second time, after we talked, I was advised very strongly, I mean, not to be at that place and to leave the northern of Gaza. And I left with my family, who didn’t want to leave me alone. I mean, so we left together to the south for a few days, and thanks for the help of great friends, I mean, who managed to get me there, because in two previous attempts it was mission impossible, when tens of people died either on the beach road or at Salah al-Din Street in front of our eyes, when the Israelis shot and bombed, I mean, people who were advised to leave to the safe haven in the south. But that wasn’t, I mean, the case. So I managed to leave to the south, finally, on my third attempt. And from there, I managed to move to Egypt.
There was, I mean, quite a lot of friends who wanted, in a way, the voice, I mean, of Gaza, the voice of the voiceless, about the horrendous genocide taking place at [inaudible] to be reported to the outside world. And there is quite a lot of things to do with the ICC, which greatly disappointing us, and there’s quite a lot of work to do with the ICJ. And there is quite a lot of work to talk, speak to power in European countries about this new Nakba, which is in process, and Israel creating it, and to stop their complicity, their absolute political, legal, military support for belligerent criminal occupation, who’s doing suicide — genocide at the daylight, who’s doing ethnic cleansing, war crimes, broadcasted there live at the real time. But it seems deep in their mind and hearts, the colonial, racist Western governments don’t want to see, don’t want to know, and they are insisting, I mean, in supporting blindly the Israeli belligerent occupation in the crimes they are doing in Gaza and the Occupied Territories at large.
AMY GOODMAN: Raji, if you could look straight into the camera lens as we speak to you now in Cairo? Thank God you’re OK. When we were speaking to you the day after your house was bombed, you described your son moving you and your beloved wife from one room, saying, “Let’s going into the hallway,” and then the place was destroyed. If you could say in more detail what it was like to make your way north to south, what you saw along the way? We also had reports that those who wanted to return to their homes north — so much of the bombing, it may surprise people, is happening actually in the south, where people are directed to go, before this ceasefire. Is it true that people were shot trying to go home in the north? The Israeli military had said, “Don’t do this.”
RAJI SOURANI: Well, we have to understand the context, the context of what the Israelis really want. In simple words, Prime Minister Netanyahu, the criminal Netanyahu, said in simple words, “Gazans should leave Gaza.” He said, “Gaza should be deserted.” And the Minister of Defense Gallant, in a clear, simple way, he said, “For Gazans, there will be no food, no electricity, no fuel.”
And so, what does that mean? I mean, if you say Gazans should leave Gaza, to go where to? It’s obvious and clear. If you are starving and cutting electricity, food, medicine, you are bombing shelters, hospitals, ambulances, if you are killing hundreds of entire families, I mean, being erased, if you are bombing bakeries, if you are bombing water infrastructure and desalination plants, if you are, you know, bluffing, I mean, the entire streets in the Gaza, if you are not allowing people even to reach hospital, if you bomb the civil defense system and the people who are working on it, what do you want from that? If you make no safe haven in entire Gaza, what’s the purpose of that?
They want to push the north to the south. This is the first stage. And they pushed many as a million people, I mean, to the south — Gaza already one of the most densely populated areas on Earth. And they push them while Gaza suffers 17 years of blockade, suffocated the life socioeconomically, passed through five wars against them, and in the eye of the storm the civilian and civilian targets. And now you are doing all that. You are killing almost 30,000 people, because many, many, Amy, still, I mean, under the rubbles, many still under their destroyed houses, and civil defense unable to recover. You are talking about thousands of people. You are talking about thousands of people in the streets in some areas nobody can get to.
The rationale, the behavior of the Israeli guidelines, the outcome of this pushing people to the south, and then from the south toward Sinai, that’s a new Nakba. As simple as that. They want us out, out of Palestine, out of Gaza, out of the West Bank. This is, I mean, the ultimate goal, Amy, for the Israeli government. And this coalition of Netanyahu and the right wing, the basis of their governmental agreement, the coalition agreement to do that, this was said at day one of this war, of this genocide war. And I think yet the Israelis so determined, so willing, and they want to do that. They want to do that.
They finished, I mean, the first stage, and now they want to go to the second stage. And after they finish up with Gaza, it won’t be a new brand of apartheid in East Jerusalem and West Bank. They will do the same, I mean, there. So, what was lack of their plan in 1948 in the Nakba, they want to implement it completely now, so Eretz Yisrael would be clean, and they will have the purity of the Jewish state. And by that, they will accomplish, I mean, their mission. This is simple, clear for any who want to see beyond the details. This is really what Israel want to do.
And that’s why we call it, from the second day, this is genocide, this is ethnic cleansing, and these are first-class war crimes. It’s against A, B, C of international law, international humanitarian law. And it’s against Geneva Convention. It’s against Rome Statute. And we see, from the wall to wall, support by many European countries, doing that willingly and giving full legal, political and military support for the state of Israel, plus U.S.
AMY GOODMAN: Raji, as you talk about international law, can you make that comparison between what happened in Ukraine, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, immediately the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court opening an investigation, especially against children — I think there were something — against what happened to the children. Five hundred children have died in Ukraine over almost two years, up to a thousand dead or maimed. And you compare it to the few weeks of the bombardment of Gaza, 5,000 to 6000 children alone dead, over 15,000 people dead. What do you want Karim Khan to do? And finally — and we just have a few minutes — right now Blinken just met with Mahmoud Abbas. He just met with Herzog on his, like, fourth trip to the Middle East, the U.S. pushing hard to give more weapons aid to Israel. Your response to that? What do you want Biden to say to Netanyahu? And how much power does he have?
RAJI SOURANI: I don’t think yet there is decision by U.S. to stop what is going on. They can simply stop all these crimes. We are bombed with F-35, F-16s, the American tanks, the American artillery, the American ammunition. We are killed with that, with some small amount of European arms. Now, if U.S. want to stop that, they can do that. And they can do that simply. But they are supporting, Amy, really, what Israel is doing. And if we are talking about the next stage that — attends. Hello?
AMY GOODMAN: We can hear you fine. Just if you can just look up into the camera. We see you. Ah, we may have just lost Raji Sourani. Raji Sourani is the world-renowned, award-winning human rights attorney, won the RFK, Robert F. Kennedy Award, won the Right Livelihood Award, has lived in Gaza for decades, speaking to us from Cairo, Egypt. He just got out of Gaza. His home was bombed, with this wife and his son and him it.
Next up, we’re going to talk about Henry Kissinger. He has died at the age of 100. We’ll speak to the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Greg Grandin, author of Kissinger’s Shadow. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: “The Right to Live in Peace” by Víctor Jara, the great Chilean musician who died in the days after the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet came to power, U.S.-backed, Nixon-backed, Kissinger-backed Pinochet, leading to the death of thousands.