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End the Siege of Gaza: An Interview with Baha Abu Hussein, Palestinian Progressive Youth Union

by Kosta Harlan |
February 14, 2008
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The following interview with Baha Abu Hussein, the Director of International Relations in the Palestinian Progressive Youth Union, was conducted by Kosta Harlan.

Baha Abu Hussein, who lives in Gaza, was one of the delegates to the March 2007 conference in solidarity with the Iraqi, Palestinian and Lebanese resistance movements: "With the Resistance, for a Just Peace in the Middle East" (

This January, protests around the world demanded that Israel end its siege and collective punishment of Gaza, which had resulted in numerous deaths and unimaginable suffering due to massive shortages of food, fuel, medicine, and other basic necessities of life.

Kosta Harlan: What is the current situation in Gaza?

Abu Hussein: The current situation in Gaza Strip is getting worse all the time due to the Israeli siege. As you know, the Gaza Strip has one of the highest concentrations of inhabitants per area in the world. It lacks basic facilities and services as well as economical, humanitarian and health shortages.

The siege physically closes the borders between Gaza and the outside world. In addition, there is a commercial siege: imports and exports are restricted and the limited amounts of products that enter Gaza are under huge regulations. The cut off of water supplies, electricity and the basic essential elements that farmers, hospitals and manufacturers need is causing many deaths and injuries. It has led to many deaths among the Palestinians. So far the death toll has reached more than 92 children, women and elderly people. On top of all that, the Israeli missile attacks carry on uninterrupted and continue to cause massive destruction and death. Not only do the Israelis kill our people, but they also destroy the agricultural fields and houses and commit many other war crimes without anyone to stop them. All in all, the situation is getting worse all the time.

Kosta Harlan: Can you describe the work of the Progressive Youth Union in these conditions?

Abu Hussein: Due to the hard conditions of poverty, unemployment and lack of resources in Gaza Strip, Palestinian youth find it hard to work properly. Yet, young people try hard to work under these difficult conditions in order to make the world hear our message and achieve our goals.

Since the beginning of 2008, the Progressive Youth Union organized a number of workshops and lectures with the Palestinian University in Gaza Strip. We also organized a youth conference against the Annapolis conference in which George Bush, the criminal, asserted that the recognition of Israel was a pre-condition to any improvement in the Palestinians’ conditions. This is a very serious issue because it will give Israel the right to transfer the 1948 Arab Palestinians, bar the refugees in other countries from returning to their homeland, and lead to the diminution of our history in Palestine.

The Palestinian youth movement also worked against Bush’s visit to the region through many of lectures and leaflets. Internationally, we keep connected with our supportive sisters and brothers in order to increase the support for our cause. We are currently preparing for a huge demonstration against the unjust siege that our people face every day. It will take place near the Egyptian border and include the participation of international and peace supporters such as members of the Italian parliament and a number of friendly Italian institutions and organizations.

Moreover, we are leading another campaign against the Book Exhibition in Turin, Italy where they will receive Israel as a guest of honor in celebration of its 60th anniversary of existence - which also means 60 years of suffering for the Palestinians.

Kosta Harlan: How does the war in Iraq affect the situation in Palestine? What is your perspective on the occupation of Iraq?

Abu Hussein: The war against Iraq and the destruction, killing, and robbery that followed it is only more proof of the American policy that supports ‘legal’ terrorism. Bush’s aim is to control the rich resources of Iraq.

It is obvious that the media do not show the huge number of crimes committed by the American army in Iraq - killing children, raping women, as well as encouraging the internal civil war between the Iraqi people themselves as an aim to divide Iraq. It is also obvious that Iraqi oil is the main reason for occupying Iraq. If you think for a moment, you will see that America’s foreign policy in the Arab countries, especially threatening Iran and Syria and supporting the chaos in Lebanon and Palestine, aims at protecting Israel and building a new Middle East where Israel will be in control of the region.

As for my point of view about this war, I believe that the American administration is in a disastrous situation. The occupation of Iraq and their instigation of chaos in the Arab countries failed because of the strong resistance from the people. I am confident that their occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Palestine will not last long, because the people are strongly determined to win, and this determination is stronger than that of the occupiers. In the end it is the forces of good that will win.

Kosta Harlan: What is your message to students in the United States? What can we do to help support the work that you do?

Abu Hussein: My message to students in American universities is to reject all of the crimes that the American administration is committing against the people of Iraq and Palestine. They should work together to explain the actual situation to the American people, because until then the American people will remain blind and deceived by Bush, who sent their children to be killed to protect Israel. I ask them all to start a huge movement in order to stop all kinds of the American interference in the internal affairs of the Arab countries and to leave us to decide our future.

From Gaza, I tell them: You have a big role in refusing all kinds of occupation and you should stand side by side with our people in our demand for a peaceful life and for our legitimate rights.