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  March 15, 2013

Gaza Says Goodbye to Hugo Chavez

Fatah and Hamas Organize Memorial for Venezuela's Hugo Chavez
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Yousef Al-Helou is a Palestinian journalist and correspondent for The Real News Network based in Gaza-Palestine & London. His work has been featured in a variety of media outlets including BBC, GRN, CBC Radio Canada, TV New Zealand, UN Observer, Reuters Institute, Middle East Monitor, Press TV, Al-Etejah TV, Maan News Network, Electronic Intifada, Palestine Chronicle, PNN among many others. Yousef is a Reuters journalist fellow and a UN fellow as well and took part in many speaking tours in the UK/Ireland about his work experience, reporting in a war zone. Yousef covered the infighting between Fatah and Hamas as well as the two Israeli wars on Gaza in late 2008/early 2009 and late 2012, arrival of siege-breaking boats and many other major events since 2006. Yousef runs Gaza TV News page on Facebook that has more than 49,000 followers. Currently he is working on his research about the rise of citizen journalists in Gaza and their impact of public perception of Palestine in the West.

Palestinians mourned the death of Hugo Chavez in Gaza. Political parties said that Chavez will continue to represent a legacy of commitment towards revolution and freedom. President Mahmoud Abbas stated that "The Palestinian people will remain loyal to Chavez and his memory will remain engraved in recognition of his courage and conscience in supporting the right to establish our independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.


YOUSEF ALHELOU, TRNN CORRESPONDENT, GAZA: Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank were united in grief on last week over the death of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

Dozens of people in Gaza gathered at the Unknown Soldier Square to pay tribute. Huge pictures of the Chavez could be seen in the streets alongside the yellow, blue, and red of the Venezuelan flag, which could be seen fluttering outside souvenir shops.

Palestinians say that they will not forget how he signaled his revulsion for Israel's treatment of them by closing the Israeli embassy in Caracas during the Gaza War. He constantly called for Israel to withdraw from all the occupied territories.

All Palestinian political parties praised Chrvez for his courageous support for Palestinians' right to an independent Palestinian state.

TALAL ABU ZAREEFA, POPULAR FRONT FOR THE LIBERATION OF PALESTINE (VOICEOVER TRANSL.): The death of Chavez is a big loss for all oppressed people who seek freedom, a loss for those who fight for their liberty. Chavez was fighting for social justice. He was the hero of the poor and the suppressed. We have lost a brave friend. Since he came to power in 1998, he was supportive to the Palestinian cause. During the 2009 Gaza War he expelled the Israeli ambassador and considered Israeli attacks war crimes. He supported Palestinian attempts to seek full UN membership. Therefore we say that we lost a great historic leader.

KAYED AL-GHOUL, DEMOCRATIC FRONT FOR THE LIBERATION OF PALESTINE (VOICEOVER TRANSL.): No doubt that the death of Chavez is a big loss for us as Palestinians. He represented all nations that oppose the American hegemony. Chavez defied the American administration because he adhered to his people's right for independence. Before he came to power, over 80 percent of Venezuelan people were under the poverty line, despite the fact his country has oil. He was against corruption. He was a revolutionary man. His experience of development was adapted by many around the world.

WALID AL-AWAD, PALESTINIAN PEOPLE'S PARTY (VOICEOVER TRANSL.): Chavez was anti-imperialist. He stood in the face of arrogant powers. We are very sad to lose a great man. We offer our condolences to the Venezuelan people. We believe that the upcoming elections that will be held on 14 April in Venezuela will prove that his people will follow his footsteps. The great leader was always in our side. He offered political support for our Palestinian cause and did not bow to American pressure.

YAHYA RABAH, FATAH OFFICIAL (VOICEOVER TRANSL.): Chavez was an extraordinary man. He played a major role in the development of his country and Latin America. He planted the seeds of revolution in the hearts of millions of people around the world. We are certain that the Venezuelan people will be loyal to Chavez. He was a big supporter to the Palestinian cause and our right for freedom. He considered the Palestinian issue an example of a just cause.

ALHELOU: Hamas-ruled Gaza also offered similar praise for the Venezuelan strongman.

TAHER NONU, SPOKESPERSON OF THE HAMAS-LED GOVERNMENT IN GAZA (VOICEOVER TRANSL.): We renew our condolences to the Venezuelan people. Leader Chavez was known for his vocal support for to the Palestian cause. He did many brave steps and opposed the Zionist occupation of Palestine, especially when he expelled the Zionist ambassador to his country during the 2008-2009 Israeli war on Gaza, and supported our people's resistance. We hope the next president of Venezuelan will be, like Chavez, supportive to our just cause.

ALHELOU: For his part, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinian cause has lost one of its most loyal supporters, particularly at a time when many Arab states have given in to US dictates on the issue, and as he took a clear position against the Israeli occupation, much more so than many of the Arab countries.

Yousef Alhelou for The Real News, Gaza.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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