Big Interviews

‘Hamas’s fundamental belief is that we must all die’




The Ambassador of Israel to Nigeria, Michael Freeman, says the end of Hamas will bring peace closer and this will be better not only for Israelis alone but for the Palestinians, in this interview with Channel TV ‘Politics Today’ monitored by Linus Aleke



How would you respond to the heavy allegations by a Hamas official against your country?

I must say that I am a little surprised and disappointed that you had somebody from Hamas on your TV programme. Hamas is a terrorist organisation that carried out the highest massacre of the Jewish people on October 7, 2023, since the holocaust. I would not expect you to have a representative of Boko Haram here. I would not also expect you to have the representative of the Islamic State -West Africa Province (ISWAP), here. I was really surprised that you could have a leader of a terror organisation here in your studio justifying and he did justify the massacre and the murder, the butchering, the rape, the torture, the burning of children, and the murdering of babies in their bed, on October 7. No fewer than 1,300 Israelis were butchered, raped, murdered, tortured, children tortured in front of their parents, and parents tortured in front of their children. People were burnt alive and 260 hostages taken into Gaza and here is a man saying that such atrocity was fine.



Hamas said that Israel is painting them black to occupy their land and subjugate their people, is that true?

The man unfortunately is a lair, a man who is willing to murder babies, a man who is willing to kidnap a one-year-old child and an 86-year-old man and take them into Gaza. A man who is willing to condone the torture and rape of citizens is also a man who is willing to lie. I wish you could look at some facts here, it is not me who defines Hamas as a terrorist organization only, Israel, America, the European Union, and all the states around the world do. I think that we can all agree that when you come into Israel, when you break across the fence, the border fence and you take children out of their bed in the middle of the night and you murder them. When you go to a music festival and there are young people between the ages of 19 and 21, partying to the music festival and you murder them in cold blood, 350 of them, that is terrorism. If that is not terrorism, then, nothing is terrorism. It is quite clear that this is what Hamas is doing, Hamas has stated that their aim is the destruction of the state of Israel and the death of every single Jew around the world that is in their constitution. Again that is not my words, but their words, this is who we are dealing with and who Hamas is. Israel like any other country in the world, after they carried out this brutal and vicious terror attack on October 7, we made it clear that we would respond. We would go into Gaza to make sure that Hamas will never carry out this terror attack on us again, and that we can bring back our hostages, they are still holding 134 hostages, with a one-year-old baby who has spent nearly half his life in captivity in Hamas. This is outrageous, it is unjustifiable and we will do whatever we need to do to return our hostages and to make sure that Hamas could never carry out its evil terror attacks again.



Are there Palestinian held hostage in Israel?

Inside Israeli prisons, there are terrorists, and there are other criminals in there as well. When people carry out terror attacks, for instance, when Hamas sends suicide bombers into Israel or sends someone to carry out terror attacks and they get arrested and get tried and convicted for their crime, they will of course be jailed for the crimes they committed. Those we have in our prisons are those who have carried out terror attacks on us.



Is Israel willing to grant freedom to Palestine?

Maybe we should look at some facts first, yesterday the Hamas terror representative said that Israel has been occupying their territory for 76 years. Israel was founded 75 and a half years ago, which tells you everything you need to know about what the Hamas organisation believes. They believe that Israel has no right to exist and should never be there. But let us look at some facts, in the year 2000, Israel offered a peace treaty to the Palestinians, withdrawing from the West Bank, and Gaza Strip, division of Jerusalem and independent Palestinian state. Bill Clinton, then American President said, it was an amazing offer, but Palestine rejected it. In 2008, our then Prime Minister made an even more generous offer with even more of the 97/98 percent of the Palestine territories, again the Palestinians rejected it. In 2005, Israel left the Gaza Strip, on the 6th of October, there was not a single Israeli soldier and not a single Israeli inside the Gaza Strip. We left in 2005, we offered them the opportunity to build an amazing place. Hamas leadership said: “We had the opportunity to build Singapore, we chose not to build Singapore because we want to destroy Israel and we want to attack Israel”. Look at all the billions of dollars that are been provided by the international aid agencies, where has it gone? It has gone into building tunnels, it has gone into making the Hamas leadership rich. Look at the Hamas leaders currently sitting in Qatar, they are worth $3bn, $4bn, and $5bn. They have stolen the money, they have stolen the future of Palestinians and they have put that future in their pockets. There are seven hundred kilometres of underground tunnels inside Gaza that Hamas has built. That is twice the length of the land and underground. The tunnel system is not used to protect the people, it is not used to bring trains and other transport. It is used for the terrorists to hide, it is used for them to store their rockets, to store their ammunition, and to fire rockets and terror attacks onto Israel. That is what Hamas has done. Hamas has sold the future of the Palestinian people and the end of Hamas will bring peace closer and will be better not only for Israelis alone but will also be better for the Palestinians. If you look on the Instagram groups and other social media groups, you will see that more and more Gazans are speaking about the disaster that Hamas has caused them. That Hamas has brought untold misery and disaster on them. Because Hamas has built a military system that hides behind civilians. They are not interested in hospitals, they are not interested in schools. They use the hospitals to hold our hostages, they use the hospitals to hide ammunition and rockets. They used the schools as store rooms, the headquarters of UNRWA, and underneath was the major data centre for Hamas. They have turned the entire place into a Hamas headquarters.



Is Israel worried about the casualties, most of whom are children and civilians, following your attack in Gaza?

I would not tell you that we are worried as a nation but I am worried as a person. First, I would say that we need to be careful about accepting the figures that are coming out from Hamas. The figures are provided by Hamas and we have already established that Hamas are willing to lie. Yesterday your guest said that they never targeted children and they never targeted women, which is a complete lie. 50 per cent of the people that were killed by Hamas were women and children, everybody was innocent on the 7th of October. I will make sure that we don’t listen to all of their figures. But no doubt, innocent are dying, and many more innocent are suffering inside Gaza and it is a tragedy. How could any human being not be moved by the death of an innocent, but we need to ask who is to be blamed for that. The people that are to be blamed are Hamas. This war could end tomorrow if Hamas released all our hostages and surrendered unconditionally and said that their leadership surrender, and we would leave.



Hamas said that if Israel agrees to prisoner swap then they are willing to end the hostility.

Well, that is also not true, what Hamas is saying is that they will release the one-year-old baby, they kidnapped from their bed. If I release a terrorist that killed 50 people, that to me is senseless and I don’t want to release one terrorist in exchange for a one-year-old baby. They probably want 10 or 50 or even a thousand terrorists, so that they can bring them back into Gaza, rebuild their terror network, and kill Israelis yet again because Hamas’s fundamental belief is that we must all die. They have no interest in any solution, apart from the death of every single Israeli. Again, understand what Hamas wants, Hamas wants us all dead, so, we would do what we need to do to make sure that Hamas can never do it again.



Are you saying that Israel is not going to release Hamas prisoners in Israeli prisons?

I am saying to you that when we talk about releasing prisoners and getting back hostages. When you say hostage, it means that they were innocently taken. If I tell you that you can have back, many years ago when the Chibok girls were kidnaped, you can have them back if you release all of the Boko Haram terrorists that are currently in your prisons. People will say that is not the trend, you cannot compare the girls you kidnapped from a school to terrorists who are sitting in a prison and that is what we are been asked to do there. So, I am not saying that we would not release but everybody needs to understand what we are been asked to do here. Releasing hostages doesn’t end a war, releasing hostages is one of the two conditions. The other condition is that Hamas can never carry out another October 7 terror attack and they can never terrorize Israel and the Palestinian people.



How are you going to do that?

At the moment we are doing it militarily because Hamas are not willing to surrender. I will say to anybody who says to us what you are doing is not good. I will say what is the alternative? Allow Hamas to rebuild and do it again. On your programme yesterday, the Hamas terror rep that you had, stated clearly, that he is not ashamed of the October 7, he thinks it was great and he said that if he was given a chance, he would do it again and he is not willing for Israel to exist. He said that himself when asked what Hamas is saying, what are we meant to do. Kill us again, we are willing to die, no country will allow them to rebuild.



So an Israeli anywhere in the world is under threat as long as the Hamas group exists?

Not only Israelis, but also the Jews. We have seen that there are plots against Jewish communities and their plots against other people around the world. Every Jew, every Israeli in the state of Israel is under severe threats as long as Hamas exists.



Do you think that there is a threat against Jewish people globally?

We saw that in Denmark, it was published that they arrested a group of Hamas terrorists who were planning to carry out a terror attack. We saw similar things published in several countries, Hamas terrorists were arrested for planning terror attacks. So, we know that this has happened, we have seen that Iran who is Hamas’s major backer, we have seen what they had done with Hezbollah in Lebanon. We have seen what they have done with Houthi in Yemen, we see what they are doing in Iraq. Iran is backing them in carrying out terror attacks. We have seen that they carried out a terror attack in Argentina years ago, where they blew up the Israeli embassy. They blow up the Jewish communities centre, they have no qualms, these are people who want to destroy Israelis and Jews wherever they are and want to kill us.



Is that the thinking of the Israeli nation that Iran is the major backer?

It is not any thinking, it is been evidence and it has been proven that Iran is a major backer of Hamas, financially and in training, they have been involved. We know that they are openly backing Hezbollah, they are backing the Houthi in Yemen, and they are backing terror groups in Syria. They have openly admitted to that so, there is no denial about that.



What would you say are the implications of this escalation of violence, especially as your prime minister announced a plan to move into Rafah?

We are going to operate in Rafah to get rid of the four battalions of Hamas terrorists that are still there. We also believe that our hostages are held there and we equally believe that the Hamas leadership are there. We need to ensure that innocent civilians there are not harmed. We would do everything we possibly can to make sure that innocent civilians are safe. In terms of the implications, we see that Iran is working to destabilize the entire Middle East. That is what they are about and that is what they do.



For what purpose?

Because they believe in a radical extremist ideology. They believe in spreading their hate and spreading their worst form of ideology across the region and therefore, that is what they are working for. That is what they are doing, we have seen them exporting terror across the region, and the world and they are a danger, not only to Israel but to the rest of the world. As we know these threats often start with Israel but they will very rarely end with Israel.



How distant do you see the end of this war, judging by your conditions that you must see the end of Hamas?

We hope that is going to be soon, Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said recently that he believes that the military is making significant progress in the battle and soon, I cannot tell you an exact time frame, it depends on the military, but we have a military that is doing everything that they can to avoid civilian casualties. They are doing everything they possibly can to uproot Hamas and I hope that soon, we will be able to take care of the remainder of those battalion. We would be able to take out the leadership of Hamas and we would be able to embark on a better pathway for both Israelis and Palestinians. My worry is not with Palestinians. I am a father of two young children and I know that the future is built on the fact that my young children, should have a better future. That means that the Palestinians also need a better future. The only way that is going to happen is if we work together and Hamas is not in the picture.



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