Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh gestures during a rally marking the 31st anniversary of Hamas' founding, in Gaza City December 16, 2018.
(photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
Army Radio was subject to a wave of criticism after it aired an interview on Monday with Rashid Haniyeh, an Israeli citizen and the nephew of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.
Army Radio’s Yael Dan interviewed the 28-year-old Haniyeh, a resident of Tel Sheva, a day after his uncle gave a speech marking the 31st anniversary of Hamas.
In the speech, Haniyeh lamented that Israel would not allow his three sisters – who live in Tel Sheva – entry to Gaza to attend the funeral of his brother.
“We keep asking again and again – for 15 years we’ve asked to enter – not me but his sisters,” said the younger Haniyeh to Dan on Monday. “Not just for funerals, but also to go in for holidays. All of our neighbors do [travel to Gaza], and they let the sisters who live in Gaza travel to Jerusalem, but we can’t.”
Haniyeh said his oldest aunt is 70 years old, and cannot possibly be a threat to security.
“They live in Israel and they haven’t done anything for 50 years... and they know that they can’t do anything,” he said. Haniyeh said the reason Israeli officials provide his mother and aunts for the refusal is “security.”
Many Israeli Twitter users were outraged that Army Radio interviewed Haniyeh.
“The radio of the soldiers is worried about the terrorist leader Haniyeh,” wrote Channel 20’s Shimon Riklin on Twitter Monday. “Can somebody stop this insanity?”
Avishai Ivri, who works for the KAN public broadcaster, wondered “How has [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah not been interviewed by Yael Dan yet?”
Dozens of angry listeners called to shut down Army Radio, while others expressed anger that Haniyeh’s nephew was given a platform, and said the interview had no journalistic value.
During their conversation, Dan attempted to press the younger Haniyeh on his uncle’s views and on their connection.
Rashid Haniyeh said there is no regular contact, but sometimes his uncle calls to check in on his sisters.
“He talks to them just at the holidays,” he said. “He calls sometimes to ask about their health. They don’t ask [about his activities]. It doesn’t interest us – those things.”
Dan pressed Haniyeh how he could reconcile living in Israel and having his existence threatened by his uncle.
“I live in Tel Sheva, I manage a bank here, I live in the State of Israel,” he said. “I can’t tell you anything about that.”
Dan pointed out that Haniyeh’s uncle “sends rockets, terrorists, murderers to the place you live.”
The younger Haniyeh would only say: “We live in Israel, and he lives in Gaza. I don’t care about politics. This is a humane issue.”
Dan responded by saying that Hamas is currently holding two Israelis – Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed – and the bodies of two Israeli citizens, which is also a humane issue.
“I can’t respond to you on this question,” Haniyeh replied.
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