This weekend Hamas leader Ibrahim Makadmeh came out of hiding and returned to his Gaza home. Israel believes the Makadmeh is linked to a series of terrorist attacks.

IMRA interviewed Gaza Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi, in English, on 16 November, 1997. The entire interview follows:

IMRA: I wanted to ask you about the return of Ibrahim Makadmeh to his Gaza home. Did he make any promises to the PA to remain silent, not to be active politically or anything like that?

Rantisi: No. But I myself promised that Dr. Makadmeh would be a politician and not a military leader, as they thought. I told the PA that Makadmeh was a political figure and he will continue just as a political leader.

IMRA: Was he only a political leader before?

Rantisi: Yes. He was a political leader. I promised that he would continue as that.

IMRA: So whatever he did in the past he will continue doing the same in the future?

Rantisi: I told then that if he would continue underground then there is the possibility that he would act as a military leader. We want him to be a political leader and they agreed and so we closed that file.

IMRA: As a political leader he can say things in favor of military actions but he can’t plan them?

Rantisi: For example, you heard Sheik Yassin. He can freely say the things he believes. Just the things which are forbidden is a violation of the law.

IMRA: So he can call for attacks against Israel but he just can’t plan them?

Rantisi: We said, as political leaders – either me or Sheik Yassin, for example, that if the occupation will continue then Hamas will continue the struggle. We did not speak about operations as operations, since the political wing is completely separate from the military one. But we talk about ideology of Hamas. And the ideology of Hamas is that the continuation of the occupation is the continuation of the struggle. And Makadmeh can say that easily.

IMRA: And the continuation of the struggle is a struggle which includes actions by the military wing.

Rantisi: All kinds of struggles. Because our Israeli enemy uses all kinds of aggression: killing and destroying homes and arresting people, Judaization of Jerusalem, building settlements. They use all kinds of aggression against human beings. Against Palestinians. And they continue still going on in their occupation of our land. We want to liberate our land. If they will give us our rights peacefully we will be happy. But if they refuse the only way there is is to continue our struggle using all means.

IMRA: So the political wing of Hamas doesn’t call for any limitations or restrictions on the scope of the activities of the military wing.

Rantisi: We have a political wing and a military wing and both are wings of one organization So we have the ideology, the same thinking, the same strategy and the same goals.

IMRA: But does the political wing turn to the military wing and say “do this but don’t do that – throw rocks at settlers but don’t blow up bombs in Tel Aviv.” Does it say anything to the military wing?

Rantisi: No. Not at all.

IMRA: Did it ever?

Rantisi: No. From the beginning it was difficult for both wings to act together or for the military wing to get its instructions from the political wing because of the security conflict here. So we prefer that the military wing be free with its leaders. Just its leaders can direct the action and we choose complete separation between both wings.

IMRA: Are the military wing leader located inside the PA or overseas?

Rantisi: I believe that Israelis and the PA talk about two underground leaders. I believe that the military leaders are who are inside but underground.

IMRA: You were quoted as saying last week that in terms of actions that Hamas would take actions but not ones which would hurt the PA. Is that the position of the political side or, the military side of both?

Rantisi: I think this is the position of the military side. Because the political side really knows nothing about operations carried out before they take place.

IMRA: You are saying that Dr. Makadmeh could have become active on the military side – so its possible for someone active on the political side to switch over to the military side?

Rantisi: I said that if you continue in putting pressure on one person to keep him underground then he will think to act as a military one rather than as a political one.

IMRA: So its possible for someone from the political wing to switch to the military wing.

Rantisi: No. He will act by himself. No need to join the military wing.

IMRA: What do you mean himself? He will go out by himself with a gun or a bomb?

Rantisi: Yes. I am talking about things which have occurred in this area. If you are going to put someone in a corner then you will push him to be aggressive.

IMRA: How old is Dr. Makadmeh.

Rantisi: 45.

IMRA: So you are saying that he himself sneak into Israel and do something.

Rantisi: If I will be underground for the time and hiding from the PA I can’t keep myself inside a room without thinking about doing something.

IMRA: Last Thursday night two members of the Tzurif cell, Ismail Ranimat and Gamal Jibril Alhour, were captured by Israeli forces when they were in one of Jibril Rajoub’s cars. Do you think it was a set-up between the PA and Israel?

Rantisi: This is one possibility. The second possibility is that collaborators working inside PA’s secret forces tipped the Israelis off.

Dr. Aaron Lerner,
Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
P.O.BOX 982 Kfar Sava
Tel: (+972-9) 760-4719
Fax: (+972-9) 741-1645