In addition to this essay, as to commentary and clarifying comments in brackets [ ] only: © Mark Rosenblit
CONCERN FOR THE PLIGHT OF THE “PALESTINIANS”
The Arab and larger Muslim worlds stridently claim that their trade sanctions, their diplomatic onslaught, and their support for “resistance” activities against the State of Israel stem, not from their hatred of the Jewish people, but rather from their “concern” for the “plight” of the “Palestinian” Arabs as an “occupied” and “oppressed” people denied their “right” of self-determination in the districts of Judea, Samaria, the eastern portion of Jerusalem, and Gaza.
Yet, this is not strictly accurate. For, despite the long-standing occupation by Spain and France of Euskal Herria (the Basque homeland), and despite the long-term occupation by France of territory on the northern coast of South America (known as “French Guiana”), and despite the longtime occupation by China of Tibet, and despite the lengthy occupation by Russia of four Japanese islands at the southern tip of the Kuril archipelago (known as the Northern Territories to Japan) and its more recent occupations of the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine and, through ethnic Russian proxies, of the eastern portion of Ukraine (known as the “Donetsk People’s Republic” and the “Luhansk People’s Republic”) , the Abkhazia and South Ossetia provinces of Georgia and the Transnistria (also known as Trans-Dniester or Transdniestria) province of Moldava, and despite the interminable occupation by Great Britain of the northern portion of Ireland (known as “Northern Ireland”) and of the southern tip of Spain (known as “Gibraltar”) and of the Falkland Islands (which are closest to Argentina and known as the Malvinas Islands to that nation) and of two areas of Cyprus (both used as British military bases, one known as Akrotiri located near Limassol in the southern portion of the island and the other known as Dhekelia located between Larnaca and Famagusta in the southeastern portion of the island), and despite the massive United States military occupation of the southeastern tip of Cuba (known as “Guantanamo Bay”), and despite the occupation by Turkey of the northeastern portion of Cyprus (denominated as “The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” by Turkey), and despite the occupation by Spain of territory of Portugal on the Guadiana River (called Olivenza by Spain and Olivenca by Portugal), and despite the occupation by China and Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) of the Wa (also known as the Lawa, Va, Hkawa, Kawa, or Kala) homeland, the Arab and larger Muslim worlds have not severed diplomatic relations with, or otherwise assumed a hostile posture against, these oppressors. And, although such nations as Australia, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Great Britain, India, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Yemen are also in occupation of other islands which lie beyond their territorial waters, the Arab and larger Muslim worlds have not severed diplomatic relations with, or otherwise assumed a hostile posture against, these oppressors.
Then, perhaps the Arab and (non-Arab) Muslim nations reserve their support only for those victims who are fellow Muslims. Yet, neither is this strictly accurate. For, despite the fact that Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey occupy (Muslim) Kurdistan, and despite the fact that Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan occupy (Muslim) Baluchistan (also known as Balochistan), and despite the fact that Iran occupies the southern portion of (Muslim) Azerbaijan, and despite the fact that Algeria occupies (Muslim) Kabylia (being the remnant Berber homeland), the Arab and larger Muslim worlds have not severed diplomatic relations with, or otherwise assumed a hostile posture against, these oppressors.
Then, perhaps the Arab and (non-Arab) Muslim nations reserve their support for Muslim victims only when they are being occupied and/or oppressed by non-Muslims. Yet, neither is this strictly accurate. For, despite the fact that (Hindu) India occupies the larger part of (Muslim) Kashmir and has gone to war three times against (Muslim) Pakistan, and despite the fact that (Christian) Russia formerly occupied (Muslim) Afghanistan and has devastated most of the rebellious (Muslim) republic of Chechnya (by virtue of having destroyed most of its infrastructure and having killed approximately 350,000 Chechens, constituting 35% of its pre-hostilities population), and despite the fact that (Buddhist) China occupies the (Muslim) Uygur homeland in the province of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (known as East Turkestan to the Uygur people), and despite the fact that (Christian) Armenia occupies the southwestern portion of (Muslim) Azerbaijan (namely, the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave and surrounding territory, denominated as the “Republic of Artsakh” by Armenia), and despite the fact that (Christian) Ethiopia formerly occupied (Muslim) Somalia, the Arab and larger Muslim worlds have not severed diplomatic relations with, or otherwise assumed a hostile posture against, these oppressors.
Then, perhaps the Arab and (non-Arab) Muslim nations reserve their support for Muslim victims only when they are Arabs. Yet, neither is this strictly accurate. For, despite the fact that, in 1982, Syria massacred more than 20,000 unarmed Syrian Arabs in Hama, and despite the fact that Turkey occupies the Iskenderun region (denominated as the Province of Hatay by Turkey) claimed by (Arab) Syria (known as the Alexandretta region to the Arab world), and despite the fact that Syria itself formerly occupied (Arab) Lebanon, and despite the fact that Iran occupies the oil-rich region of Khuzestan (known as the region of al-Ahwaz to the Arab world) which has been populated almost exclusively by Arabs for the past 600 years and the islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Moussa located within the territorial waters of (Arab) United Arab Emirates, and despite the fact that France occupies the island of Mayotte (known as Mahore to the Arab world) within the territorial waters of (Arab) Comoros, and despite the fact that Spain occupies the cities of Cueta (known as Sebta to the Arab World) and Melilla (known as Maliliyya to the Arab World) and the rock fortress of Peñón de Velez de la Gomera (known as Badis to the Arab World) on the northeastern coast of (Arab) Morocco as well as several islands within the territorial waters of that Arab country, and despite the fact that Morocco itself occupies (Arab) Western Sahara, the Arab and larger Muslim worlds have not severed diplomatic relations with, or otherwise assumed a hostile posture against, these oppressors.
Then, perhaps the Arab and (non-Arab) Muslim nations, as well as the remainder of the World, reserve their support only for the “Palestinian” Arabs. After all, the World has favored this “stateless” Arab population as it has no other. For example, the “Palestinian” Arabs have been permitted to establish a world-wide “diplomatic” structure both through their numerous (official and unofficial) “embassies” and through being accorded Permanent Observer Status at the United Nations.
Furthermore, the United Nations itself has established a well-funded official infrastructure for their exclusive benefit via the creation of the following 21 pro-“Palestinian” and anti-Israel constituent entities, positions, events and publications:
1. Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories (which consists of three U.N. member States appointed by the President of the U.N. General Assembly, reporting directly to the U.N. Secretary General concerning, inter alia, Israel’s “violation of human rights in Arab territories occupied by Israel” and Israel’s “disregard of fundamental freedoms and human rights in occupied territories”, per preambular subparagraphs (a) and (b) of U.N. General Assembly Resolution no. 2443 (XXIII) of December 19, 1968, entitled “Respect for and implementation of human rights in occupied territories”);
2. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (which, inter alia, issues periodic recommendations to the U.N. General Assembly on achieving the “inalienable rights” of the “Palestinian people”, and which constitutes the only Committee in the U.N. system dedicated exclusively to the agenda of a single group);
3. Division for Palestinian Rights (which is a special consultative unit established within the Department of Political Affairs of the U.N. Secretariat, and which constitutes the only Secretariat unit in the U.N. system dedicated exclusively to the agenda of a single group);
4. International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (which is observed annually on November 29, in lamentation over the issuance of the U.N.'s Palestine Partition Plan on that very date in 1947, and in sympathetic commemoration of the rejection by the recognized leadership of the “Palestinian” Arabs of the Plan's recommendation for the creation of a Jewish State alongside an Arab State therein);
5. United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (whose acronym is “UNRWA”, which agency was created for the sole purpose of administering international assistance to the “Palestinian” Arab “refugee” population exclusively, while international assistance to all other refugee populations in the World -- without exception -- are administered by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (whose acronym is “UNHCR”), meaning that UNRWA's 28,000 employees assist more than 5 million “Palestinian refugees”, comprised of approximately 30,000 living departees and their foreign-born descendants, including adopted children (whether or not such adoptees are themselves “Palestinian”), in 5 places (i.e., 3 countries, namely, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, and 2 territories, namely, the “West Bank” and Gaza), while UNHCR must suffice with only 6,300 employees who must assist approximately 55 million non-”Palestinian” refugees in approximately 110 countries; moreover, UNRWA allocates to each “Palestinian refugee” four times the amount of financial aid that UNHCR allocates to each non-“Palestinian” refugee; yet, the latter has resettled more than 50,000,000 refugees, while the former has resettled none);
6. The Assistance to the Palestinian People Unit (which, as a unit of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, has been assigned a “specific mandate to monitor and investigate the social and economic impact of policies of the Israeli occupation authorities in the Palestinian territory” per the website of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development);
7. United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory (which, as a unit of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, periodically publicizes Israel’s “violations” of the “rights” of the “Palestinian” Arabs);
8. United Nations Human Rights Council’s “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories occupied by Israel since 1967” (who produces an annual report detailing Israel’s “atrocities” against the “Palestinian” Arabs, thereby rendering the “Palestinians” the only group in favor of which, and Israel the only country against which, the UNHRC has appointed a permanent investigator);
9. United Nations Human Rights Council’s Agenda Item 7, entitled “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories” (which constitutes an anti-Israel fest at each and every session of the UNHRC, thereby rendering Israel the only country in the World against which the UNHRC has dedicated a permanent agenda item);
10. United Nations Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for the Coordination of the International Assistance to Palestinians (which solicits worldwide funding for the Palestinian Authority, which is an instrumentality of the Palestine Liberation Organization);
11. Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (which, as a field office established under the auspices of the Department of Political Affairs of the U.N. Secretariat, serves as the Personal Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General to the “State of Palestine” and, through its “Coordinator for Humanitarian and Development Activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”, leads the U.N. country team for “Palestine”, consisting of 21 U.N. agencies providing assistance to the “Palestinian” Arabs);
12. Office of the Quartet, comprising the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia, which (per the heading appearing on every page of its website) is tasked with: “Supporting the Palestinian people to build the institutions and economy of a viable, peaceful state in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem”;
13. United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (which is a U.N. archive containing U.N. and non-U.N. pronouncements on the “Question of Palestine”, established by the U.N.’s Division for Palestinian Rights, that seeks to delegitimize the Jewish people’s sovereign right to the Land of Israel in order to pressure the State of Israel into permitting the creation of a hostile P.L.O.-controlled State therein, to be known as “Palestine”);
14. United Nations Register of Damage caused by the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (which register was created to catalogue the “damage claims” accumulated by the “Palestinians” against Israel on account of the latter’s construction of a security barrier (90% of which is a sensor fence) to prevent “Palestinian” suicide bombers and other terrorists from perpetuating atrocities against Jewish population centers located within Israel proper);
15. United Nations Human Rights Council’s database of companies profiting from the Occupation published by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (commonly known as the “UNHRC Blacklist”), listing those companies that have allegedly facilitated the creation and maintenance of Jewish communities in the Golan Heights, Judea, Samaria and the eastern portion of Jerusalem (which database seeks to stigmatize and thereby financially ruin the companies identified therein);
16. United Nations Human Rights Council’s permanent commission of inquiry against Israel, to wit: “… ongoing independent international commission of inquiry, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to investigate in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law …” (per operative paragraph 1 of UNHRC resolution no. A/HRC/S-30/L.1 of May 27, 2021), which will render Israel the only State to ever be made subject to a UNHRC open-ended permanent commission of inquiry;
17. Ad hoc Conciliation Commission of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is tasked with evaluating allegations of “racial discrimination” submitted by the “State of Palestine” against Israel (per Articles 11 & 12 of Part II of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, adopted by U.N. General Assembly resolution no. 2106 (XX) of December 21, 1965, despite the exemption in Article 2 of Part I thereof, which states, in full, as follows: “This Convention shall not apply to distinctions, exclusions, restrictions or preferences made by a State Party to this Convention between citizens and non-citizens.”);
18. United Nations Security Council’s monthly meeting on the situation in the Middle East (which primarily focuses on the Jewish State’s alleged violations of international law);
19. United Nations Security Council’s quarterly open debate (in which any U.N. member State, U.N.-accredited observer delegation and U.N-accredited NGO may participate) under the agenda item labeled as “the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” (which also primarily focuses on the Jewish State’s alleged violations of international law), thereby, together with its monthly meeting on the Middle East, giving the UNSC one opportunity every month and two opportunities every three months to publicly bash the Jewish State;
20. United Nations General Assembly’s ritualistic annual issuance, during each Fall session of the UNGA, in proximity to the annual celebration of the “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people” on November 29, of approximately 20 anti-Israel resolutions, which mostly regurgitate the contents of the prior Fall session’s package of anti-Israel resolutions; and
21. United Nations General Assembly Resolution no. 67/19 of November 29, 2012 (being the 65th anniversary of the “Palestine Partition Plan”), entitled “Status of Palestine in the United Nations”, which resolution essentially recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization as being the “State of Palestine” for all purposes of the U.N. system except for formal U.N. membership -- despite that fact that the P.L.O. meets none of the requirements of international law (as set forth in Articles 1 & 3 of the “Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States” of December 26, 1933) for achieving that legal status.
Moreover, on a per capita basis (adjusted to present currency values), the “Palestinian” Arabs have, to date, received more than twice the amount of financial aid provided to a devastated Europe under the post-World War II Marshall Plan; and despite the catastrophic conditions now obtaining elsewhere in the World (e.g., inter-ethnic genocide, pestilence, flooding, drought and famine in sub-Saharan Africa and much of Asia, affecting hundreds of millions of people), the relatively affluent “Palestinian” Arabs continue to receive more per capita financial aid than anyone else on the planet. No other “oppressed” people have ever been accorded this level of international recognition and financial assistance. Clearly, the World accords special and unique support to the “Palestinian” Arabs.
Yet, even this is not strictly accurate. For, despite the fact that, in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait unceremoniously expelled, respectively, 750,000 and 300,000 resident “Palestinian” Arabs -- many of whom had resided in those lands for generations -- the nations of the World, including its Arab and (non-Arab) Muslim components, have not severed diplomatic relations with, or otherwise assumed a hostile posture against, these oppressors. Furthermore, despite the fact that, in 1982, 800 Muslim “Palestinian” Arabs were murdered at Sabra and Shatilla by the Christian Lebanese Forces led by commander Elie Hobeika -- who had acted upon instructions from Syria and who later became a respected pro-Syria member of the Lebanese parliament -- the nations of the World, including its Arab and (non-Arab) Muslim components, have neither instituted sanctions against Syria for procuring the massacre nor against Lebanon for protecting its perpetrators. Moreover, despite the fact that, from 1948 to 1967, Jordan and Egypt illegally occupied portions of former Mandatory Palestine (i.e., Jordan occupied the “West Bank”, while Egypt occupied Gaza), and despite the fact that, in 1970, Jordan killed 2,000 and expelled 10,000 resident “Palestinian” Arabs -- among them then Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat -- in a brutal campaign that became known among “Palestinian” Arabs as “Black September”, the nations of the World, including its Arab and (non-Arab) Muslim components, have not severed diplomatic relations with, or otherwise assumed a hostile posture against, these oppressors.
It seems, then, that Sherlock Holmes' famous dictum, namely: “When you have eliminated the Impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the Truth” (from the novel “The Sign Of The Four” by Arthur Conan Doyle, published in 1890), has once again proven to be correct. What, then, is this hard-to-accept Truth? -- simply that the World, especially the Arab and larger Muslim components thereof, “cares” about the “Palestinians” only when Israel is “oppressing” them (i.e., when Israel is defending itself against terror attacks perpetrated by them). For, this gives the World a fine excuse to artfully conceal its ancient hatred of the Jewish people behind the nouveau facade of a feigned concern for the “plight” of the “Palestinians”.
© Mark Rosenblit
[Note: In 2005, following the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri by Syria (acting via its Lebanese surrogates), mass protests by hundreds of thousands of Lebanese eventually forced Syria to withdraw its military troops from Lebanon. However, the Syrian Occupation was not terminated; it was merely obscured from view. This is because Syria’s intelligence agents remain in place throughout Lebanon to facilitate the assassination of anti-Syria politicians and journalists as well as the implementation of strikes and riots against the Lebanese government, 1,000,000 Syrian settlers continue to occupy Lebanese land in the East, and the Hizbollah terrorist organization -- which constitutes the most powerful component in Lebanon’s sectarian-based government -- continues to act as Syria’s (and Iran’s) surrogate army on Lebanese soil. Moreover, in the aftermath of al-Hariri’s assassination, the Arab and larger Muslim worlds have neither assumed a hostile posture against Syria on account of its Occupation nor taken any other action to assist Lebanon in truly freeing itself from the Syrian Occupation. In fact, the League of Arab States (commonly known as the Arab League) has wholeheartedly supported Syria’s occupation of Lebanon from its inception in 1976. -- Mark Rosenblit]
[Note: The below “Palestinian” Arab journalist, a reporter-analyst for, inter alia, the Jerusalem Post, laments the hypocrisy that permeates those Western journalists and “human rights” activists who claim to be so concerned about the welfare of the “Palestinians”. Apparently, their disdain for the Jewish State is so intense (and, in consequence thereof, their desire to overlook the thuggery and venality that constitute the core of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas is so overwhelming) that such disdain regularly trumps any authentic concern for the “Palestinians”. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Pro-Palestinian or Anti-Israel?
by Khaled Abu Toameh
April 26, 2012 at 5:00 am
It would also help immensely of these activists came to the West Bank and Gaza Strip to offer advice on, and help in building, proper government institutions, and in combatting administrative and financial corruption. But as far as many of the pro-Palestinian activists in the West Bank and Gaze are concerned, the interests of the Palestinians are not as important as hating Israel.
Pro-Palestinian groups and individuals in the US and Europe are doing Palestinians injustice by devoting all their energies only against Israel.
There is a feeling in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that most of these groups and individuals are more interested in campaigning against Israel than helping the Palestinians.
Being pro-Palestinian does not necessarily mean that one also has to be anti-Israel.
The pro-Palestinian camp in the West should raise its voice against violations of human rights and media freedoms under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
In the past few weeks, six Palestinian journalists, bloggers and cartoonists were arrested by security forces belonging to the Palestinian government in the West Bank.
The pro-Palestinian activists around the world chose to turn a blind eye to the ongoing crackdown on freedom of expression in the West Bank.
They also failed --- even refused -- to condemn the Palestinian Authority government's decision to block web sites that are critical of Palestinian leaders in the West Bank.
The pro-Palestinian activists in the West also refuse to examine what is happening under Hamas in the Gaza Strip. They apparently do not care, or do not want to see, that there are executions, arbitrary arrests, and assaults against women and torture in Hamas prisons.
The pro-Palestinian activists and organizations also do not seem to care if the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are brainwashing Palestinian children and filling their minds and hearts with hatred.
Those who care about the Palestinians should come to the Gaza Strip and work toward promoting human rights under Hamas -- of children, women, and journalists.
It would help immensely if hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists came to the West Bank and Gaza Strip to teach Palestinian children English and expose them to the benefits of democracy and Western values, such as equal justice under law, free speech and a free press, and financial transparency and accountability
It would also help immensely if these activists came to the West Bank and Gaza Strip to offer advice on, and help in building, proper government institutions, and in combatting administrative and financial corruption.
But as far as many of the pro-Palestinian activists in the West are concerned, the interests of the Palestinians are not as important as hating Israel.
Anti-Israel messages and campaigns serve only the radicals in this region who do not want either peace or coexistence.
The time has come for the emergence of a genuine pro-Palestinian camp in the West that would focus less on Israel and more on helping the Palestinians.
Copyright © 2012 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved.
How Journalists Allowed the Palestinian Authority to Fool Them
by Khaled Abu Toameh
May 9, 2012 at 5:00 am
In most cases it is the Palestinian Authority's security forces that are responsible for the chaos and corruption. A Western journalist who wanted to do an investigative report into the case was warned that she would be putting her life at risk. Gangsters and armed clans were among the main reasons the Palestinian Authority collapsed in 2007, speeding the rise of Hamas to power.
The Palestinian Authority has been boasting over the past four years of its success in restoring law and order to the West Bank city of Jenin.
Journalists from all around the world were invited to Jenin, once notorious for dispatching suicide bombers to Israel, to report on the Palestinian government's successful efforts.
Palestinian leaders and government officials told the journalists how their security forces have managed to end the state of chaos and lawlessness that used to prevail in Jenin.
They talked about how Fatah gangsters and thugs who used to roam the streets, imposing an atmosphere of intimidation and terror on the population, have vanished.
Most of the gangsters, the Palestinian government officials noted, had been recruited to various branches of the Western-funded Palestinian security forces and were indirectly receiving salaries from American and European taxpayers' money.
Many Western correspondents rushed to Jenin to cover the story about the success of the Palestinian Authority in restoring law and order.
One of the most popular stories was the fact that Zakaria Zubeidi, the former commander of Fatah's armed militia, Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which was behind dozens of terror attacks against Israel, was now running a local theater and promoting coexistence and peace.
But while the international, and Israeli, media were breaking the "good news" about Jenin, the journalists failed to understand what was really going on in Jenin and its surrounding villages. Some journalists, in fact, chose to turn a blind eye to the grim reality on the ground.
The murder of Israeli Arab actor and film producer Julian Mar-Khamis in Jenin last year should have sounded an alarm bell among the media representatives. His killers have never been caught, sparking a wave of unconfirmed reports about the involvement of influential Fatah gangsters and Palestinian security officers in the case.
A Western journalist who wanted to do an investigative report into the case was warned by senior Palestinian security officers that she would be putting her life at risk if she insisted on carrying out this mission.
Last week, the truth about the situation in Jenin finally exploded in the faces of everyone: the local governor died of a fatal heart attack following an unsuccessful assassination attempt.
For the Palestinian Authority leadership, the assassination attempt was what lifted the veil: Palestinian leaders in Ramallah realized that they could no longer continue to hide the truth about what was really happening in Jenin.
Palestinian security forces have since arrested dozens of Fatah "outlaws" and police officers for various crimes -- including murder, extortion, abductions, sexual harassment and armed robberies.
Radi Asideh, the security commander of the Jenin area, admitted that it was the Palestinian security establishment that was responsible for the anarchy and lawlessness. "There is a defect inside the security establishment and officers were responsible for this," he revealed.
The biggest mistake, Asideh added, was that the Palestinian leadership had turned its back to the defect, allowing the situation to deteriorate at the expense of the people's security.
Palestinians say that anarchy and lawlessness are to be found also in other areas in the West Bank where the Palestinian Authority claims to have imposed law and order. And, they add, in most cases it is the Palestinian Authority's security forces that are responsible for the chaos and corruption.
If the Western journalists and donors continue to ignore the reality on the ground, the West Bank could soon fall into the hands of gangsters and armed clans, as has been the case in Jenin -- among the main reasons the Palestinian Authority collapsed in the Gaza Strip in 2007, speeding the rise of Hamas to power.
Copyright © 2012 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved.
[Note: In 2006 - 2007, the “Palestinian” Arabs were in the midst of a civil war, with Fatah (representing Arab nationalists) and Hamas (representing Arab Islamists) killing each other as well as multitudes of “Palestinian” civilians. Unremarkably, despite their obsessive “concern” for the “plight” of the “Palestinians”, neither the United Nations, nor the European Union, nor the League of Arab States, nor the Organization of the Islamic Conference, nor the Non-Aligned Movement, nor the United States has publicly and consistently demanded any halt to this internecine bloodshed. Nor has any of the plethora of non-governmental “human rights” organizations, such as Amnesty International, Christian Aid and Human Rights Watch, publicly raised its voice out of their own supposed “concern” for the “plight” of the “Palestinians.” Again, if only it were Israel killing these “Palestinians”, then the World would, no doubt, re-discover its moral compass, and demand a cessation of these hostilities. The below opinion article also makes the point that the “plight” of the “Palestinians” -- including young “Palestinian” children killed by assault weapons -- do not merit the “concern” of the World, unless Israel can be blamed for the carnage. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Another Tack: The slaying of Yihyeh Abu-Bakra
Sarah Honig, THE JERUSALEM POST
Feb. 1, 2007
Let's indulge briefly in a hypothetical case history. Two-year-old Yihyeh Abu-Bakra is shot dead in Gaza. He's an incidental victim, classic collateral damage. A stray bullet ends his short sojourn on this earth, exceedingly prematurely. The Arab media -- not unexpectedly and with suspect instantaneous certitude -- proclaim that the fatal projectile was fired by Israelis. This assertion, albeit a tad too immediate, is accepted as gospel around the globe.
Photos of the martyred infant are dramatically splashed over every front page everywhere. What fodder these prove for post-colonial discourse! The free world's decent and upstanding citizens all know who deserves sympathy. They likewise know who aimed at the wee underdog. The circumstances of the atrocity are incidental.
Unanimous revulsion is underscored by video footage, which foreign TV crews solicit from local Gazans. It's safer than entering the Palestinian fiefdom itself. A small outlay of cash buys fetching ratings-grabbers.
The fact that said tapes are in all likelihood also Arab propaganda productions bothers no one. In fact, the amplification of tendentious cant and deliberate disinformation potentially purchases some terrorist protection. The objective international media know which side needs to be feared and sweetened, and it's certainly not the liberal, tolerant and angst-ridden Israeli one.
Inevitably, tiny Yihyeh becomes another icon of Gaza's ongoing resistance against Israeli occupation (never mind that the last Israeli exited in 2005; the pretext for carnage and Kassam barrages is too enticing to forgo). In no time Yihyeh's fame rivals that of Muhammad al-Dura, who was said to have been cold-bloodedly assassinated by Israeli troops on September 30, 2000.
The visuals of him crouching near the Netzarim junction alongside his father as the lethal slug found its 12-year-old mark became best-sellers. Indeed, ever since, official Palestinian Authority TV hasn't ceased indoctrinating its littlest viewers, barely older than Yihyeh, with stirring reruns of Muhammad's last minutes, accompanied by emotive chants, rousing songs and poignant poetry exhorting other youngsters to go forth, espouse martyrdom, become suicide bombers and blow up Israeli kids to redeem Muhammad's blood.
Curiously, videos of the incident show no blood, not even a spatter, which was merely the first telltale hint of much amiss, leading more than one expert to deduce that this scene was ingeniously stage-managed. There were plenty more indications supporting suspicions of fraud.
It wouldn't be the first instance of brazen Palestinian fabrication, for instance the trumped-up yarns about a Jenin-massacre-that-never-was during Operation Defensive Shield.
One thing is beyond debate -- even if Muhammad was killed, it couldn't possibly have been by an Israeli bullet. The trajectory was all wrong, considering where the Israelis were. But it was perfect from the position of Palestinian snipers.
NONE OF this prevented the summary and blanket blaming of Israel then, nor repetition of the scenario in Yihyeh's sequel. And so, once more Israel is tainted with the blood of innocents. Yihyeh's distraught mother stars, screaming hysterically and tearing her hair, on all TV channels, while the toddler's dad vows vengeance.
Israel is again -- hardly unexpectedly -- pilloried by the court of righteous opinion. The international community is aghast. More underage blood taints the hands of Jewish descendants of deicide-perpetrators and serial slaughterers of Christian tots for the purposes of ritual pastry preparation.
[United States Secretary of State] Condoleezza [Rice] vigorously wags that schoolmarmy finger with particularly displeased dourness. [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair solemnly reminds all and sundry -- including his ethnic Pakistani electorate -- that until Israel is coerced to risk yet additional existentially hazardous concessions, the World will know no peace.
[French President] Jacques Chirac pompously pontificates to all Frenchwomen and Frenchmen that those domineering and arrogant Jews (to borrow a phrase from Charles de Gaulle) continuously commit the unpardonable cardinal sin of extreme hubris by not bowing to directives from morally irreproachable and singularly omniscient Paris.
Even the hero of Chechnya, one [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, reprovingly lectures the Jewish state about its ruthless brutality. Needless to note, the UN Security Council convenes for the obligatory Israel-bashing session.
Israel is laden with shame. IDF top brass and otherwise hyperactive government mouthpieces hem and haw, yammer and stammer, own up to an unmeasured degree of culpability, pending a thorough, slow, lugubrious investigation.
Our in-house guardians of other folks' conscience -- representing a plethora of platitude-spouting bleeding hearts from all left-of-political-center niches -- mercilessly beat their fellow Israelis' breasts and boastfully broadcast embarrassment for their affiliation with this accursed collective. They thereby bask in the glowing limelight of the unstinted outpouring of enlightened universalist approval for post-Zionists raking their benighted compatriots over the coals.
So much for the hypothetical.
IT'S NOT really all strictly imaginary. Much rings familiar because we've been there, seen that. We've suffered the outrageous slings and arrows of sanctimonious indignation time and again. But most of all, this isn't entirely make-believe because toddler Yihyeh was truly shot dead in Gaza.
It happened just last weekend. Others died too. An 11-year-old was gunned down and, in all, the bloodbath claimed dozens of lives.
Only the outcry was missing. Yihyeh's untimely demise made no headlines. His mother's grief tugged no heartstrings. PATV [Palestinian Authority Television] didn't sanctify his sacrifice, and the World continues as it had smugly before. Not a ripple. Nothing out of place. No pandemonium. No commotion.
Why? Because there was no opportunity to claim that Israelis pulled the deadly trigger. Yihyeh fell victim to terrorist infighting.
We always realized the world retains incredible composure when Arabs deliberately target Jewish babies. We now learn that it's also unmoved when Arabs murder Arabs -- even when the casualties include juvenile Gazans.
Bottom line: it's not who's slain but by whom. If Jews cannot be implicated, it doesn't matter.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: The below articles are just some of the many documenting the intra-“Palestinian” carnage -- including massacres of women and children, blowing up homes, attacking mosques, ambulances and hospitals, forcing people to abandon their houses, and throwing people off the tops of high rise buildings -- that the World is so content to ignore simply because Jews are not the perpetrators thereof. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
25 Gazans dead in Fatah-Hamas clashes
By Khaled Abu Toameh
(Jerusalem Post, January 28, 2007) The number of Palestinians killed in fierce fighting between Fatah and Hamas gunmen in the Gaza Strip over the weekend rose to 25 on Saturday night, with dozens more wounded in the clashes. At least six of the victims died on Saturday.
Among the casualties was two-year-old Yehya Abu Bakreh, who was killed when Fatah gunmen fired at his father's car. Fatah gunmen and Palestinian Authority policemen also attacked a mosque in Gaza City, killing a number of worshipers.
The fighting, the heaviest between the two parties since Hamas came to power a year ago, left the streets of Gaza City completely deserted except for hundreds of militiamen and police officers. The PA Ministry of Education announced that studies in universities and schools would be suspended until further notice due to the growing violence.
A public opinion poll published Saturday showed that more than half of Palestinians believe that a civil war has begun. Sixty-six percent expressed pessimism regarding the general situation in the PA-controlled territories, while more than 88% said they no longer felt secure.
The poll, conducted by An-Najah University in Nablus, surveyed 1,360 people from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem and has a 3% margin of error.
Fatah officials accused Hamas of declaring a "public war" on the party and vowed to avenge the deaths of their colleagues. They said Hamas snipers were using mosque rooftops to fire at Fatah members.
Hamas said the fighting was triggered by Fatah leaders with the aim of toppling the Hamas-led government.
Two Fatah-run radio stations in Gaza City went off the air after their workers received death threats from Hamas. Yehyah Mussa, a Hamas legislator in Gaza City, had earlier called on Hamas supporters to attack the two stations, saying they were inciting against Hamas.
The latest clashes prompted Hamas to suspend talks with Fatah over the formation of a PA unity government. Hamas said a decision had been taken to protest against "crimes committed by Fatah gangs."
Ayman Taha, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza City, said the latest violence was part of a scheme designed to bring down the Hamas-led government and ignite civil war. "Hamas will not allow Fatah conspirators to drag the Palestinians toward civil war," he said. "They are trying to serve the interests of the Americans and Zionists."
Taha and other Hamas representatives called on PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to cut short his current European tour and return immediately to the Gaza Strip to try and calm the situation.
Tawfik Abu Khoussa, a senior Fatah official in the Gaza Strip, came out with a scathing attack on Hamas, accusing its members of "practicing all forms of sadistic crimes and thuggery."
Abu Khoussa said a "bloody gang" within Hamas was responsible for driving the Palestinians toward civil war.
"They are perpetrating daily massacres against our people," he added. "They blew up the offices of a TV station and killed dozens of security officers and civilians."
PA Attorney-General Ahmed al-Mughni held PA Interior Minister Said Siam of Hamas responsible for the latest killings, kidnappings and anarchy in the Gaza Strip. He announced the formation of a commission of inquiry to investigate the "crimes" perpetrated in there over the weekend.
As interior minister, Siam is formally in charge of the PA security forces. But since most of his powers have been taken by Abbas, Siam is responsible only for the paramilitary "Executive Force" that he established last year.
Mughni condemned the Executive Force as illegal and accused it of targeting commanders and members of the PA security forces. "Siam is providing cover for murderers who are responsible for the anarchy," Mughni charged. "He has even given some of the murderers the opportunity to go on vacation abroad."
Mughni also said the PA security forces had failed to execute thousands of arrest warrants issued against suspected murderers and other criminals.
The clashes began late Thursday night when one member of the Executive Force was killed and seven were wounded by a roadside bomb near the Jabalya refugee camp.
In response, Hamas gunmen killed Nabil Jarjir, a senior member of Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. Jarjir was wounded when his home came under fire. Hamas gunmen subsequently stopped the ambulance that was carrying him to a hospital and shot him in the head, killing him instantly.
On Friday, dozens of Hamas gunmen attacked the home of Mansour Shalayel, a top Fatah operative in the northern Strip. The attack lasted for several hours, only ending when hundreds of Fatah gunmen and PA policemen repelled the assailants.
Although the house was completely destroyed by missiles and explosive devices, Shalayel was only lightly wounded. Eight Hamas members and two Fatah men were killed in the confrontation outside the house.
Also Friday, hand grenades were thrown at the homes of PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar of Hamas and Gen. Rashid Abu Shabak, a Fatah leader and top PA security commander in the Gaza Strip. Neither was hurt in the separate attacks.
"The renewed fighting between Fatah and Hamas is a real national tragedy for the Palestinians," said independent legislator Rawya Shawwa. "They have crossed all red lines by storming homes and killing and terrorizing women and children. Palestinians here are living in a state of panic and despair."
(©) The Jerusalem Post
Analysis: Hamas's Gaza and Fatah's West Bank
By Khaled Abu Toameh
(Jerusalem Post, June 13, 2007) Jamal Abu Jadian, a top Fatah commander, fled his home in the northern Gaza Strip Tuesday evening dressed as a woman to avoid dozens of Hamas militiamen who had attacked it. He and several members of his family and bodyguards were lightly wounded.
But when Abu Jadian arrived at a hospital a few hundred meters away from his house, he was discovered by a group of Hamas gunmen, who took turns shooting him in the head with automatic rifles.
"They literally blew his head off with more than 40 bullets," said a doctor at Kamal Udwan Hospital.
Abu Jadian, a close ally of Fatah warlord Muhammad Dahlan and a sworn enemy of Hamas, was the third top Fatah commander to be killed by Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip in the past few weeks. The other two were Muhammad Ghraib, a senior commander of the Fatah-dominated Preventative Security Service, and Baha Abu Jarad, a leading member of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah's military wing.
All three were killed after dozens of Hamas militiamen surrounded their homes for hours, firing rocket-propelled grenades and detonating explosive charges.
Hamas targeted them because it believed they were heads of a Fatah group that has been targeting Hamas officials and activists over the past year. This group, Hamas officials claim, is headed by Dahlan and other senior Fatah leaders who, with the help of the US and Israel, are part of a "plot" to remove Hamas from power.
Three other senior Fatah leaders from the northern Gaza Strip who are allegedly involved in the "plot" have also been targeted by Hamas. But the three -- Sameeh Madhoun, Maher Miqdad and Mansour Shalayel -- have managed to escape unharmed with their families.
In yet another blow to Fatah, about 200 Hamas gunmen on Tuesday stormed the home of Nabil Sha'ath, a senior Fatah official who was closely associated with Yasser Arafat.
Sha'ath was not at home, but one of his bodyguards was shot and wounded before the Hamas attackers went on a rampage inside the villa.
In addition to attacking Fatah officials, Hamas has also driven many members of the Palestinian Authority security forces out of the northern Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of the year, Hamas militiamen there have taken over the headquarters of the PA's General Intelligence, Force 17, Preventative Security, National Security and Military Police.
Earlier this week, Hamas also "liberated" a large mosque in the northern town of Beit Lahiya that was a known Fatah stronghold. Hamas has also taken control of a hospital and several medical centers in the area.
On Tuesday it became clear that Hamas was now trying to extend its "victories" to the rest of the Gaza Strip, particularly Gaza City and the southern towns of Khan Yunis and Rafah.
"Hamas is effectively in control of the northern part of the Gaza Strip," said a senior Fatah official. "Now they are trying to take control of the entire Gaza Strip, and I'm afraid they are close to achieving their goal."
Many Fatah officials in those areas have fled their homes over the past few weeks for fear of being targeted by Hamas. One of them, Rashid Abu Shabak, is Fatah's highest ranking security official in the Gaza Strip. He and his family left the Gaza Strip after Hamas militiamen raided their villa in Gaza City and killed six of his bodyguards.
Dahlan left the Gaza Strip two months ago and has been living in Cairo. At least seven other top Fatah officials have sought refuge in the West Bank after receiving permission from Israel to leave the Gaza Strip.
Reports from the Gaza Strip Tuesday evening indicated that Hamas was close to taking control of Khan Yunis, a traditional Fatah stronghold, which is also Dahlan's hometown. Hamas militiamen occupied the most important symbols in the area -- the headquarters of the Fatah-affiliated governor and buildings belonging to different branches of the PA security forces.
A sign of Fatah's predicament in the Gaza Strip was illustrated late Monday night when its leaders announced a unilateral cease-fire, only to be snubbed by Hamas. Fatah leaders also made urgent appeals to a number of Arab governments to interfere to stop the fighting, but their calls have fallen on deaf ears. The Egyptians, Saudis and Jordanians -- who have, until now, been making huge efforts to end the anarchy in the Palestinian areas -- are all fed up with the Palestinians.
Unless the fighting stops in the next day or two, the entire Gaza Strip is likely to fall into the hands of Hamas. All Fatah can do now is vent its anger at the remaining handful of Hamas representatives in the West Bank. The majority of the Hamas leaders in the West Bank are in Israeli jails and the Islamic movement does not have a strong military presence there.
Tuesday night, PA Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas convened his top aides in the West Bank to assess the situation in the wake of what he has called the "military coup" staged by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
One of the options facing Abbas is to break up the coalition partnership with Hamas and to officially declare war on the Islamic movement.
Whatever decision Abbas and his Fatah lieutenants take, it will be hard to change the new reality that has been created on the ground, especially in the Gaza Strip. As of today, the Palestinians can boast that they have two entities -- one in the Gaza Strip run by Muslim fundamentalists and another one in the West Bank under the control of secular Fatah leaders.
"The two-state solution has finally worked," a Palestinian journalist in the Gaza Strip commented sarcastically. "Today, all our enemies have good reason to celebrate."
(©) The Jerusalem Post
16 killed in Hamas-Fatah clashes
By Khaled Abu Toameh
(Jerusalem Post, June 12, 2007) The number of victims in the Hamas-Fatah infighting rose to 16 early Tuesday morning when Hamas gunmen attacked the home of Hassan Abu-Rabiah, a senior Fatah official.
Medical personnel said that three women and Abu-Rabiah's 14 year-old son were killed in the attack. The gunmen kidnapped Abu-Rabiah.
The Fatah in turn torched a Hamas gunman's home.
Fatah gunmen killed a commander of Hamas's armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, Monday night. Palestinian sources reported that Fatah had kidnapped Muhammed El-Dahdouh, killed him, and thrown his body near the Palestinian TV station in Gaza.
In an earlier incident, Hamas killed Jamal Abu Il-Jidan, a senior Fatah official, at his home in Beit Lahi.
Hamas and Fatah also took their fight to two Gaza Strip hospitals earlier Monday, killing 10 people and wounding more than 25.
Separately, a Palestinian was thrown from a tall building in Gaza City in the second incident of its kind in 24 hours.
Hamas claimed that the latest cycle of violence had been initiated by a number of top Fatah officials with the aim of bringing down the Hamas-led coalition governing the Palestinian Authority. Hamas leaders said the Fatah officials, led by PA National Security Adviser Muhammad Dahlan, were receiving support from the US and Israel.
According to a senior Hamas official, Dahlan recently established a new militia called the Fatah Executive Force to fight Hamas. The official said Dahlan's force consisted of several hundred heavily armed Fatah men.
Eyewitnesses said four Palestinians were killed in fierce fighting inside the Bet Hanun Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip. Among the victims were Eid al-Masri, and his sons, Faraj and Ibrahim.
Doctors said they were forced to close the hospital because of the fighting, which caused a power outage.
A similar gun battle erupted between Hamas and Fatah militiamen at Gaza City's Shifa Hospital, the largest medical center in the Strip, where two people were killed. One of the victims was identified as Mazen Ajour, a commander of Izaddin Kassam.
Hamas said Ajour was killed execution-style after being kidnapped by Fatah gunmen and PA security officers.
Local reporters told The Jerusalem Post that dozens of families living close to the hospital fled their homes out of fear for their lives.
The Palestinian Doctors' Union called on all militiamen to immediately withdraw from the hospitals, saying the fighting was threatening the lives of hundreds of patients. The union also appealed to the PA leadership to intervene to stop the fighting between Fatah and Hamas.
Another top Hamas operative, Muhammad Muhjez, was killed outside the home of senior Fatah official Jamal Abu Jadian in Bet Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip. Abu Jadian, who is one of the commanders of Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, was later assassinated by Hamas militiamen.
Hamas men shot and killed Yasser Baker, an officer in the PA's General Intelligence Force.
Earlier, Hamas accused Fatah militiamen of opening fire at the offices of the PA government in Gaza City. No one was hurt in the attack. In response, PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas called off the weekly cabinet meeting.
In a statement, the PA cabinet strongly condemned the shooting attack, saying it was yet another sign of the growing anarchy in the PA-controlled territories.
Hamas also accused Fatah of trying to assassinate PA Minister of Sports and Youth Bassem Naim of Hamas. A group of masked men fired several shots at his office at the ministry, but no one was hurt. The minister fled the area together with his aides and bodyguards.
Husam Abu Kainas, 26, was killed early Monday after being thrown from the 12th floor of a building in Gaza City. Hamas said he had been
kidnapped a day earlier by Fatah militiamen who suspected him and his family of belonging to Hamas.
On Sunday, Muhammad Sawariki, a member of the PA's Force 17 "Presidential Guard" and a Fatah supporter, died after he was thrown from the 18th floor of another tower in Gaza City.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
Hamas threats keep crossing closed
Yaakov Katz, THE JERUSALEM POST
Jul. 5, 2007
Hamas's threat to open fire at throngs of Palestinians stranded in Egypt has thwarted Israeli plans to open the Kerem Shalom crossing to southern Gaza on Wednesday to let the travelers return to their homes, defense officials told The Jerusalem Post.
According to the officials, 6,000 Palestinians have been marooned on the Egyptian side of Rafah since Hamas's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip three weeks ago and the closure of the Rafah crossing into Egypt. Palestinians shelled the crossing last week, forcing its closure after it had been used as an alternative to the Karni cargo crossing to send food and other supplies into Gaza.
During his meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the Sharm e-Sheikh summit last week, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he would work to relieve the humanitarian crisis on the Egyptian side of Rafah.
In an effort to allow the stranded Palestinians to return home, the IDF recently offered to Egypt to open the Kerem Shalom crossing -- which connects Israel, Gaza and Egypt -- to pedestrian travel.
Egypt contacted Hamas and, according to Israeli officials, was told that if Kerem Shalom was opened they would attack the crossing with mortars and gunfire, even at the price of killing thousands of Palestinians.
Israel immediately canceled the plans, and is waiting to see if Egypt succeeds in convincing Hamas to allow Kerem Shalom to be used to help the stranded Palestinians.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
Fatah protest against Hamas ends in violence
[Journalists are also beaten and harassed by Hamas]
Associated Press, THE JERUSALEM POST Aug. 31, 2007
A protest by Fatah supporters against Hamas rule turned violent Friday when Hamas men began forcefully dispersing the crowd, firing in the air and beating demonstrators and reporters.
Some 20 people were wounded in the clashes, including two French journalists and two children, according to doctors and witnesses.
AP staff covering the protest witnessed the beating of one journalist by Hamas supporters. He was not seriously hurt.
The violence began at the end of a Fatah prayer meeting held to protest against Hamas, which seized control of the coastal territory in June.
A similar protest last Friday also ended in clashes and harassment of journalists.
After the Fatah supporters finished prayers, Hamas men began firing into the air to disperse the crowd. The Hamas security forces then began arresting protesters and taking them away in jeeps, and also beat several demonstrators. AP Television News footage showed several uniformed Hamas men beating an unarmed protester with long sticks.
Hamas men in civilian clothes also joined the uniformed forces in dispersing the protest.
A small explosion from an unknown source injured two French journalists, one in his leg and the other on her hand. Neither injury was considered serious.
At one point, a Hamas security building was pelted with small explosive devices, according to an AP photographer on the scene. Hamas security agents responded by firing in the air.
After the clashes, heavily armed Hamas security agents entered AP's offices in Gaza City and instructed staff not to film or photograph a nearby security building from the balcony without prior permission.
Saber Khalifa, a Hamas security spokesman, said his force was rounding up "subverters." He didn't have a number of those arrested.
A Fatah official in Gaza said 25 men were rounded up.
Copyright 1995-2007 The Jerusalem Post
[Note: “Palestinian” high school students have been violently prevented from taking their matriculation examinations by the storm troopers of al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades. The Brigades is the “military” arm of Fatah. Fatah, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, presently maintains exclusive control over the Palestinian Authority (in the wake of Abbas’ ouster of Hamas from the P.A. in June 2007). However, due to the fact that it is not Jewish “storm troopers” denying these “oppressed” Arab students the opportunity to educationally advance, the World seems unperturbed. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Fatah gunmen ruin matriculation exams
By Khaled Abu Toameh
(July 8, 2007) Despite Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's decision to ban militiamen from patrolling the streets of the West Bank, scores of Fatah gunmen on Saturday forced teachers in Nablus to call off high school matriculation exams (tawjihi).
The gunmen, who claim they are wanted by Israel, were protesting Abbas's refusal to allow them to sit for the exams in secret halls for "security reasons." And in yet another challenge to Abbas's authority, Fatah gunmen in the West Bank strongly condemned PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad for his criticism of the various militias and his call for disarming them.
Fayad said over the weekend that his government was determined to confiscate the weapons of all militias and gangs in the West Bank, adding that the Palestinians won't be able to establish a state under the current state of anarchy.
Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, rejected Fayad's statements, saying its members would not hand over their weapons. "Our weapons are legitimate because they are being used against the Israeli occupiers," said Muhammad Shehadeh, a spokesman for the group. "We reject Fayad's attempt to depict us as a militia because we are a legitimate force. We call on President Abbas to stop him and others from attacking us." Tensions between Abbas and the Fatah gunmen have been mounting ever since the PA chairman decided two weeks ago to ban all militias from operating in public in the West Bank.
Abbas also decided to incorporate the Aksa Martyrs Brigades into the PA security forces, a move that would turn the gunmen into official security officers entitled to full salaries.
Fatah officials revealed that hundreds of Fatah gunmen in the West Bank were refusing to hand over their weapons to the PA unless they received high salaries and ranks, as well as assurances that Israel would stop targeting them.
"The problem is that all of them want to be colonels and generals although many never finished high school," said one official. "I don't see how we can solve this problem other than through dialogue. We are not interested in a confrontation with these men."
In another blow to Abbas, a newly-appointed Fatah spokesman in the Gaza Strip resigned over the weekend after receiving threats from the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. Hazem Abu Shanab, a top Fatah operative in Gaza, was appointed less than two weeks ago as the faction's official spokesman there. His decision to quit came after the Aksa Martyrs Brigades accused him of being closely associated with former Fatah security commander Muhammad Dahlan.
Abbas decided last week that all students must report to public exam halls throughout the West Bank, drawing sharp criticism from hundreds of gunmen belonging to the Aksa Martyrs Brigades.
Until now, all Fatah gunmen were granted special treatment by the PA Ministry of Education when sitting for the tawjihi. In addition to allocating secret halls for them, the ministry also permitted the gunmen to enter the halls with their weapons -- a move that was seen as a direct threat to the lives of the teachers.
In the context of his efforts to end lawlessness and anarchy in the West Bank, Abbas last week instructed PA Education Minister Lamis Alami to cancel the practice of allocating special halls to the fugitives.
Enraged by the decision, some 100 Fatah gunmen went on a rampage in a number of schools in Nablus, forcing the ministry to call off the exams. Firing warning shots into the air, the gunmen ordered hundreds of students to leave four halls where the exams were being held.
One of the gunmen read a statement through a megaphone in which he announced that his group had decided to close the halls until further notice because of Abbas's decision.
"This decision was taken by the Aksa Martyrs Brigades and all armed factions in Nablus," the masked gunman said. "We will not allow the exams to be held until President Abbas accepts our demand to have our own halls. We can't go to public halls together with hundreds of students because we are wanted by the Israelis."
Sahar Akoubeh, a senior official in the PA Ministry of Education, confirmed that the gunmen had closed down the exam halls. She pointed out that some 250 students from the Nablus area were registered as gunmen who are wanted by Israel and that they were demanding special treatment under the pretext that their lives were at stake.
One of the students who was forced to leave in the middle of the exam told The Jerusalem Post that PA policemen at the scene refused to interfere to stop the gunmen from closing the halls. "The policemen told us that they have orders not to anger the Fatah gunmen," he said. "What kind of a government is this? If they can't impose order, they must go."
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: Fatah tortures Hamas prisoners in Nablus, and Hamas tortures Fatah prisoners in Gaza; but the World remains unmoved because Israel is not the torturer. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Abbas calls for early PA elections [excerpts republished]
By Khaled Abu Toameh
(Jerusalem Post, July 20, 2007) Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced Wednesday that he was working toward holding early parliamentary and presidential elections and said there would be no dialogue with Hamas until the Islamist movement ended its violent "coup" in the Gaza Strip.
. . .
Abbas's announcement came amid growing tensions between Fatah and Hamas in the West Bank. On Wednesday, PA policemen used force to disperse demonstrators in Nablus who were protesting against the arrest of Hamas supporters and activists in the city by Abbas's security forces.
. . .
Two journalists who covered the Nablus demonstration complained that PA
policemen beat them and broke their cameras. Five demonstrators were arrested.
The protest was organized by a group of women outside the PA prison in the city, where dozens of Hamas supporters are being held.
Hamas legislator Ahmed al-Haj delivered a speech in which he launched a scathing attack on the PA leadership and security forces. In response, Fatah gunmen tried to attack him, forcing the legislator to hide in a nearby post office.
Col. Ahmed Sharqawi, commander of the Nablus police, said about 50 women participated in the "unlicensed" demonstration outside the prison and tried to block some roads. He also accused the women of hurling insults at the PA policemen.
The demonstrators complained that some of the detainees had been brutally tortured by Abbas's security forces in Nablus. They also accused the PA policemen of stealing the personal belongings of their sons.
In the Gaza Strip, a top Fatah leader, Zakariya al-Agha, accused Hamas of torturing dozens of Fatah activists over the past few weeks. "I've seen many forms of torture that were carried out by Israel, but what Hamas is doing is more brutal and ruthless," he said, noting that some detainees had died in Hamas-controlled prisons.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: On August 2, 2008, Hamas attacked a stronghold of Fatah loyalists in Gaza, killing and wounding almost 100 of them, and causing almost 200 of them to flee Hamas-controlled Gaza in fear for their lives. Yet, the Palestinian Authority, which is controlled by Fatah and which governs all the major Arab-populated cities of Judea and Samaria (in accordance with the 1993 Oslo Accords), has refused asylum to these refugees. It seems that the “Palestinian” leadership does not concern itself with the “plight” of the “Palestinians” -- even their own Fatah “Palestinians”? Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Analysis: Why Abbas doesn't want Fatah 'refugees' in West Bank
Aug. 3, 2008
Khaled Abu Toameh, THE JERUSALEM POST
The Palestinian Authority's refusal to receive members of the Hilles clan who fled the Gaza Strip Saturday did not come as a surprise to many Palestinians.
Although the Hilles clan has long been known for its loyalty to Fatah, the PA leadership in Ramallah asked Israel Sunday to send almost all those who fled the Gaza Strip back home.
For many of the Hilles clan members, returning to the Gaza Strip is tantamount to a death sentence. However, this did not stop the PA from asking the men to return home.
PA officials explained that the reason behind their refusal to absorb the new "refugees" was their desire not to encourage other residents of the Gaza Strip to leave.
"Everyone knows that if we allow people to leave the Gaza Strip, almost all the residents living there would try to cross the border into Israel," said a senior PA official. "We don't want to leave the Gaza Strip to Hamas."
Yet there are also other reasons why PA President Mahmoud Abbas doesn't want the new refugees in the West Bank.
One is related to Abbas's fear that the presence of the Hilles "refugees" in Ramallah and other West Bank cities would damage his efforts to impose law and order there.
The powerful Hilles clan had established their own "mini-state" in the Gaza Strip, where they had their own extraterritorial "security zone" and militia.
The clan, which has long been affiliated with Fatah, had a military training base and a number of small factories for manufacturing various types of weapons.
Several members of the clan were also involved in various types of criminal activities, including murder, rape, kidnappings and extortion, according to sources in the Gaza Strip.
Bringing dozens of these clan members into the West Bank would have caused a big headache for Abbas, who is still facing difficulties in reining in numerous Fatah gangs that are continuing to roam the streets of West Bank cities and villages.
The last thing Abbas needs is another 180 bitter Fatah thugs from the Gaza Strip patrolling the streets of Ramallah, Bethlehem and Nablus and imposing a reign of terror on the local population.
Past experience has shown that the Palestinians in the West Bank have never been enthusiastic about the presence of their brethren from the Gaza Strip among them.
Shortly after the establishment of the PA in 1994, former PA Chairman Yasser Arafat deployed dozens of policemen from the Gaza Strip in a number of West Bank cities. This resulted in an "intifada" by the residents of these cities, many of whom openly rejected the presence of the Gazans in their communities. In many cases, West Bank families refused to rent out apartments to the "undesirables" from the Gaza Strip.
The experience was repeated in June 2007 when hundreds of Fatah members fled the Gaza Strip following Hamas's violent takeover of the area. Most of those who arrived in Ramallah are still finding it impossible to rent apartments in the city.
Many others continue to be shunned by local residents who treat them with great suspicion and often mock them for escaping from Hamas. A former Fatah security commander who was among the June 2007 "refugees" said recently that he had stopped going to public places in Ramallah because he felt that he was "unwanted" and because of the "ridiculing" looks he got from people.
Even the 150 Fatah men who fled to Egypt following the Hamas takeover have not been welcome there or in any other Arab country. In a recent letter to Abbas, the Fatah men, all former residents of the Gaza Strip, complained that they were being held in "military bases" belonging to the Egyptian army and were being treated as criminals rather than political refugees.
Copyright 1995 - 2008 The Jerusalem Post
[Note: Protests, many violent, have erupted all over the World against Israel’s belated retaliation for almost 8 years of Gazan rocket and mortar attacks upon Jewish towns. The protestors loudly assert that Israel is “massacring” Gazans, but they neglect to protest the undeniable fact that Gazans are actually torturing and massacring Gazans. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Hamas moves on Fatah 'collaborators'
By Khaled Abu Toameh
(Jerusalem Post, January 4, 2009) The Hamas government has placed dozens of Fatah members under house arrest out of fear that they might exploit the current IDF operation to regain control of the Gaza Strip.
The move came amid reports that the Fatah leadership in the West Bank has instructed its followers to be ready to assume power over the Gaza Strip when and if Israel's military operation results in the removal of Hamas rule.
Fatah officials in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that Hamas militiamen had been assaulting many Fatah activists since the beginning of the operation last Saturday. They said at least 75 activists were shot in the legs while others had their hands broken.
Wisam Abu Jalhoum, a Fatah activist from the Jabalya refugee camp, was shot in the legs by Hamas militiamen for allegedly expressing joy over the IDF air strikes on Hamas targets.
"Hamas is very nervous, because they feel that their end is nearing," a senior Fatah official said. "They have been waging a brutal campaign against Fatah members in the Gaza Strip."
Meanwhile, sources close to Hamas revealed over the weekend that the movement had "executed" more than 35 Palestinians who were suspected of collaborating with Israel and were being held in various Hamas security installations.
The sources quoted Hamas officials as saying that the decision to kill the suspected collaborators was taken out of fear that Israel might try to rescue them during a ground offensive. The officials claimed that at least half of the victims were killed by relatives of Palestinian militiamen who were killed as a result of information passed on to Israel by the "collaborators."
Justifying the latest crackdown on Fatah, a Hamas official in Gaza City said that his government had received information according to which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had instructed his loyalists in the Strip to start moving toward undermining Hamas.
"We will kill them all if they try to help Israel bring down our government," the official said. "We will hang Mahmoud Abbas and [former Fatah security chief] Muhammad Dahlan in the public square if they try to enter the Gaza Strip aboard Israeli tanks."
The Hamas official said that his security forces had launched a massive "preemptive" campaign aimed at thwarting Fatah's attempts to "spread anarchy and chaos." He confirmed that many Fatah operatives had been shot in the legs over the past few days by Hamas "to make sure that they don't help Israel."
Fahmi Za'arir, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, accused Hamas of "executing" a number of Fatah detainees. He said the Fatah leadership knew of at least two Fatah men who were shot dead by Hamas after being released from prison. He named them as Nasser Muhana and Saher al-Silawi.
Za'arir said that several Fatah members who attended funerals of victims of the IAF strikes were severely beaten by Hamas militiamen who accused them of collaboration with Israel.
It was "shameful" that Hamas was directing its weapons and energies against its own people instead of fighting against Israel, the spokesman said.
The decision to place Fatah operatives under house arrest was issued by the much-feared "Internal Security Apparatus," which reports to the Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry in Gaza.
The order, which was delivered to the Fatah activists on Thursday, reads: "You are forbidden from leaving your home for 48 hours unless you want to attend Friday prayers. Anyone who violates the order will be punished."
(©) The Jerusalem Post
'Hamas torturing Fatah members in Gaza'
By Khaled Abu Toameh
(Jerusalem Post, January 20, 2009) Hamas militiamen have rounded up hundreds of Fatah activists on suspicion of "collaboration" with Israel during Operation Cast Lead, Fatah members in the Gaza Strip told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
They said the Hamas crackdown on Fatah intensified after the cease-fire went into effect early Sunday morning.
The Fatah members and eyewitnesses said the detainees were being held in school buildings and hospitals that Hamas had turned into make-shift interrogation centers.
Hamas has also renewed house arrest orders that were issued against thousands of Fatah officials and activists in the Gaza Strip shortly after the military operation started.
A Fatah official in Ramallah told the Post that at least 100 of his men had been killed or wounded as a result of the massive Hamas crackdown. Some had been brutally tortured, he added.
The official said that the perpetrators belonged to Hamas's armed wing, Izaddin Kassam, and to the movement's Internal Security Force.
According to the official, at least three of the detainees had their eyes put out by their interrogators, who accused them of providing Israel with wartime information about the location of Hamas militiamen and officials.
A number of Hamas leaders and spokesmen have claimed in the past few days that Fatah members in the Gaza Strip had been spying on their movement and passing the information to Israel.
Two Hamas officials, Salah Bardaweel and Fawzi Barhoum, accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his "spies" in the Gaza Strip of tipping off the Israelis about the movements of slain Hamas interior minister Said Siam, who was killed in an IAF strike on his brother's home in Gaza City last week.
The Fatah official in Ramallah said that, apart from being baseless, the allegations were aimed at paving the way for a ruthless Hamas attack on Fatah activists in the Gaza Strip.
"They were afraid to confront the Israeli army and many Hamas militiamen even ran away during the fighting," he said. "Hamas is now venting its anger and frustration against our Fatah members there."
Eyewitnesses said that Hamas militiamen had turned a number of hospitals and schools into temporary detention centers where dozens of Fatah members and supporters were being held on suspicion of helping Israel during the war.
The eyewitnesses said that a children's hospital and a mental health center in Gaza City, as well as a number of school buildings in Khan Yunis and Rafah, were among the places that Hamas had turned into "torture centers."
A Fatah activist in Gaza City claimed that as many as 80 members of his faction were either shot in the legs or had their hands broken for allegedly defying Hamas's house-arrest orders.
"What's happening in the Gaza Strip is a new massacre that is being carried out by Hamas against Fatah," he said. "Where were these [Hamas] cowards when the Israeli army was here?"
The activist said that Hamas's security forces had also confiscated cellular phones and computers belonging to thousands of local Fatah members and supporters.
Relatives of Abed al-Gharabli, a former Fatah security officer who spent 12 years in Israeli prisons, said he was kidnapped by a group of Hamas militiamen who shot him in both legs after severely torturing him.
Ziad Abu Hayeh, one of the commanders of Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, is reported to have lost his sight after Hamas gunmen put out his eyes. According to Fatah activists, Abu Hayeh was kidnapped from his home in Khan Yunis by Hamas militiamen.
The Fatah men said that in a number of incidents, Hamas militiamen had kidnapped Fatah activists while they were attending the funerals of people killed during the war. In other cases, activists were detained and shot in the legs after they were spotted smiling in public -- an act interpreted by Hamas as an expression of joy over Israel's military offensive.
On Saturday night, three brothers from the Subuh family were abducted by Hamas militiamen and taken to the Abdel Aziz Rantisi Mosque in Khan Yunis, where they were shot in the legs, a local journalist told the Post.
In a more recent incident, Hamas gunmen shot and killed 80-year-old Hisham Tawfik Najjar after storming his home and beating his four sons -- all Fatah activists.
Fahmi Za'areer, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, revealed that at least 16 Fatah activists had been executed by Hamas in the past few days. He strongly condemned the Hamas clampdown on Fatah and warned against a bloodbath in the Gaza Strip.
A leaflet distributed by the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in various parts of the Gaza Strip called on Hamas to "respect the blood of the Palestinian martyrs" and stop pursuing Fatah members. The leaflet said that Hamas had placed hundreds of Fatah men under house arrest in the past 48 hours and was warning that anyone who failed to comply with these orders would be shot.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: Both Hamas and Fatah are stealing shipments of food, medicine, fuel and other supplies meant for Gaza. But the World is not screaming about it, because the Jews are not the ones being accused of this particular crime against humanity. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Hamas, Fatah bicker following Gaza op
By Khaled Abu Toameh
(Jerusalem Post, January 21, 2009) Hamas and Fatah have been accusing each other of stealing humanitarian aid that was on its way to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
They are also competing as to which one of them would be in charge of rebuilding the destroyed infrastructure and houses.
The mutual allegations came amid growing tensions between the two parties in the wake of Operation Cast Lead.
Hamas spokesmen continue to maintain that Fatah leaders in the West Bank were in collusion with Israel during the war. The Hamas spokesmen have also accused Fatah "spies" in the Gaza Strip of helping Israel kill senior Hamas official Said Siam.
Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip claimed that dozens of trucks loaded with food and medicine were being held on the Egyptian side of the border at the request of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The officials said that the humanitarian aid came from several Arab and Islamic countries about two weeks ago. They said that the Egyptian authorities initially tried to deliver the aid to the Palestinians, but were stopped by Abbas.
"Abbas and Fatah are afraid that the aid would be used to strengthen the Hamas government," said a Hamas official. "That's why they are doing their best to prevent much of the aid from entering the Gaza Strip."
Another Hamas official claimed that the aid had been diverted to the West Bank, where Fatah representatives have confiscated the medicine and food. He did not rule out the possibility that some Fatah leaders were planning to sell the food and medicine in the black market.
The Hamas government said Tuesday that it has established a special fund to help the victims of the IDF operation and urged the international community not to give Abbas's authority any money.
Hamas also said that it would not allow the PA to play any role in the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. It said that the money should be channeled directly to the victims and not to Abbas's aides in Ramallah.
Fatah strongly denied the allegations and claimed that Hamas militiamen have been stealing the aid since the beginning of Israel's military operation.
Fatah also warned donors against dealing with Hamas directly.
A Fatah official said that on Monday night alone, Hamas gunmen intercepted 12 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid that had been donated by the Jordanian government to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
He said that the trucks were on their way to the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) when the gunmen belonging to the movement's armed wing, Izaddin al-Kassam, stopped them and confiscated their contents.
The Jordanian authorities confirmed on Tuesday that Hamas gunmen had seized the trucks shortly after they entered the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom border crossing.
Last week Fatah activists and eyewitnesses in the Gaza Strip claimed that Hamas had confiscated fuel and food that was en route to hospitals and schools housing thousands of Palestinian families.
Meanwhile, the PA is studying a proposal to import thousands of caravans that would serve as temporary homes for Palestinian families whose houses were destroyed or damaged during the war.
The proposal, which was submitted to the PA leadership by the Union of Palestinian Contractors in the Gaza Strip, is said to be worth between $8 million to $10m.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
UNRWA suspends Gaza aid after Hamas steals supplies
Feb. 6, 2009
Yaakov Katz, THE JERUSALEM POST
UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] informed the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] on Friday that it is suspending its humanitarian aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip after Hamas stole supplies the United Nations organization had transferred to the Palestinian territory.
The seizure of the 200 tons of supplies took place Thursday night and in response, UNRWA officials informed the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration that it was suspending its deliveries to the Gaza Strip until further notice. The supplies confiscated included flour and other basic commodities.
The transfer of 40 truckloads of humanitarian supplies -- some 800 tons -- planned for Sunday has already been canceled.
Officials in Jerusalem said the announcement by UNRWA constituted a UN approval and confirmation of Israel's position, that Hamas is using the Palestinian population in gaza "cruelly and cynically" and is solely responsible for hardship there.
Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog, who was appointed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the end of Operation Cast Lead to coordinate Israel's humanitarian effort in Gaza, told Israel Radio that theft of humanitarian aid exposes the true face of Hamas and of its supporters in Iran.
It was the second time this week that Hamas stole UN supplies transferred to the Gaza Strip for impoverished Palestinians.
The first incident took place Tuesday evening when armed Hamas police broke into a Gaza warehouse packed with UN humanitarian supplies and seized thousands of blankets and food packages.
The seizure took place after UNRWA staff earlier refused to hand over the aid supplies to the Hamas-run Ministry of Social Affairs.
"We received a phone call this morning from UNRWA officials that they have decided to suspend their deliveries after Hamas stole supplies from one of the organization's warehouses in the Gaza Strip," explained a senior official.
The official said that the IDF noticed the trend already during Operation Cast Lead last month, when despite the fighting, Israel transferred close to 80 trucks a day to the Strip.
Nuaf Atar, a Fatah operative captured during the operation, told the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) that Hamas government officials "took over" humanitarian aid Israel allowed in to the Gaza Strip and sold it when it was supposed to be distributed for free.
UNRWA Spokesman Sami Mshasha confirmed that the organization had suspended its deliveries to Gaza after Hamas stole its supplies.
"This is the second incident this week and this is a point of great concern for us and sets a bad precedent and if we are to provide services to people in Gaza after such an ordeal we need assurances that our work will be unimpeded," Mshasha said. "We cannot subjugate our work to the Ministry of Social Affairs in Gaza."
Copyright 1995 - 2009 The Jerusalem Post
[The World seems not to care that Hamas has been committing a double war crime, i.e., not only when it serially attacks Israel’s civilian population centers, but also when it stores its rockets and mortars in, and launches its attacks against Israel from, and therefter hides the perpetrators thereof within, its own civilian population centers, thereby exposing the latter to valid responsive measures. That is because the World evinces no “concern” for the “Palestinians” except when Israel is responding to such attacks. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Gaza victims describe being used as human shields by Hamas
By Jpost Staff
(Jerusalem Post, January 30, 2009) Members of a Gaza family whose farm was turned into a "fortress" by Hamas fighters have reported that they were helpless to stop Hamas from using them as human shields.
They told the official Palestinian Authority daily newspaper that for years Hamas had used their property and homes as military installations from which the group would launch rockets into Israel, dig tunnels and store arms. According to the victims, those who tried to object were shot in the legs by Hamas operatives.
Palestinian Media Watch quoted the official Palestinian Authority daily, Al-Hayat al-Jadida, as reporting on January 27, "The Abd Rabbo family kept quiet while Hamas fighters turned their farm in the Gaza Strip into a fortress. Right now they are waiting for the aid promised by the [Hamas] movement after Israel bombed the farm and turned it into ruins."
According to the report, the hill on which the Abd Rabbo family lives overlooks Sderot [, Israel], making it an ideal military position for Hamas fighters.
The Abd Rabbo family members emphasized to the paper that they were not Hamas activists and that they were still loyal to the Fatah movement, but that they had been unable to prevent the armed squads from entering their neighborhood at night.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
Gazans tell Israeli investigators of Hamas abuses
By Yaakov Katz
(Jerusalem Post, February 2, 2009) Nuaf Atar spoke about the use of Gazan schools to shoot rockets at Israel. Zabhi Atar revealed that Hamas used food coupons to entice Palestinians to join its ranks and Hamad Zalah said Hamas took control of UNRWA food supplies transferred to Gaza and refused to distribute them to people affiliated with Fatah.
These are three examples of testimony from Hamas and Islamic Jihad men who were captured by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead. Details of their interrogations have been released for publication by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
More than 100 Palestinians were captured during the three-week operation but most were released and only a few dozen -- members of Hamas and other terrorist factions -- are still being held by Israel, officials said. Some of them may be used as bargaining chips in negotiations for abducted soldier Gilad Schalit.
Nuaf Atar, 25, lives in Atatra, in the northwest Gaza Strip, and was captured by paratroopers on January 11. In his interrogation by the Shin Bet, Atar said Hamas government officials "took over" humanitarian aid Israel allowed in to the Strip and sold it, when it is supposed to be distributed for free.
Hamas set up rocket launchers and fired rockets into Israel from within school compounds since the operatives knew that the Israel Air Force would not bomb the schools, he said.
Palestinians who opposed Hamas's use of their land and homes as launch pads were shot in the legs, Atar added.
"Atar's testimony is evidence of Hamas's cynical use of public institutions, such as schools, to attack Israel," the Shin Bet said.
Another fascinating account was provided by Raji Abed Rabo, a 22-year-old member of Islamic Jihad and resident of the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza. Abed Rabo told interrogators he was recruited into the organization at the age of 17 and began by distributing anti-Israel propaganda.
In 2006, he joined the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and underwent military training. In 2007 he returned to Islamic Jihad and was recruited to the Jabalya cell. His job was to conduct reconnaissance and gather intelligence on IDF movements along the Gaza border.
He stored weaponry in his house, including roadside bombs, and was knew of a number of tunnels that were to be used to kidnap and surprise IDF soldiers. He also told the Shin Bet about a large bunker that was built under Shifa Hospital in Gaza City and was used as a hideout for a number of senior Hamas operatives during the recent Israeli offensive.
Hamad Zalah, 29, is also a resident of Jabalya and was captured by the IDF on January 12. During his interrogation, he revealed that together with his brother, he was tortured by Hamas at a headquarters in Jabalya for his affiliation with Fatah and his intention to light a memorial candle for Yasser Arafat.
He said that he was whipped and beaten with electrical cords. In 2007, Hamas operatives shot and killed his brother, who was a security guard at the home of a Palestinian Authority official in Gaza.
Since June 2007, when Hamas took over Gaza, the terror group, Zalah said, also took control of all humanitarian aid sent into the Strip and refused to distribute it to Palestinians affiliated with Fatah.
Amad Hamed, 35, resides in Beit Hanun, and was arrested by the IDF on January 5. In his interrogation he told the Shin Bet that in 2006 he started conducting surveillance for Hamas and training to perpetrate a suicide attack against Israel.
Two of Hamed's brothers were killed by the IDF in Gaza in 2006 and 2007. Hamed told his interrogators about a Hamas training camp in a sports club next to a mosque in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, and another camp opposite the Beit Hanun municipal building.
Three months ago, Hamed gave his approval to place barrels of explosives, rockets and launchers in land that belongs to his family in Beit Hanun.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Since ill Gazans are not dying by Israel’s hand, the international media and the international “human rights” NGOs are not even re-distributing this news article, let alone shouting their outrage. What happened to their self-professed “concern” for the “plight” of the “Palestinians”? Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
'Fatah-Hamas rift threatens Gaza sick'
By Yaakov Katz and Tovah Lazaroff
(Jerusalem Post, March 31, 2009) Hamas's takeover of the Palestinian Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip last week may lead to the deaths of Palestinians who require immediate medical care in Israel and Egypt, the United Nations warned on Monday.
On March 22, Hamas took control of the PA Health Ministry's Referral Abroad Department, which oversees the process by which Palestinians in Gaza receive approval from the PA to travel to Israel and Egypt for medical treatment.
The World Health Organization and the UN humanitarian coordinator said Monday that the PA Health Ministry in Ramallah was refusing to approve and fund applications. As a result, the patients are not allowed to travel to Israeli or Egyptian hospitals.
Defense officials said they were aware of the situation and that it was not surprising.
"This is another example of the effect Hamas's takeover has on the Palestinian people without any connection to Israel," one official said. "This is a political dispute between the PA in Ramallah and Hamas in Gaza, and unfortunately the Palestinian people in Gaza are caught in the middle."
Tony Laurance, acting head of WHO in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, warned that patients would die if not allowed out of Gaza.
"Around 900 patients a month were being referred outside of Gaza for treatment at hospitals in Israel, east Jerusalem, Egypt and Jordan in the first half of 2008," he said. "Some of the cases are urgent and require immediate treatment. We have already seen referrals affected, and patients will die if they do not receive the treatment they require."
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: It took more than five years of repressive Hamas rule in Gaza for Human Rights Watch to finally issue a report on Hamas’ persecution of its fellow “Palestinians”. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Hamas dismiss HWR's charges of torture, detention
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Islamist movement label "politically biased" Human Rights Watch report as "purely political;" deny torture of detainees.
(Jerusalem Post, October 3, 2012) Hamas on Wednesday dismissed as “politically biased” a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) that accused the Islamist movement of torturing detainees.
The Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry described the report as “purely political” and claimed it had been written “under the influence of various external parties.”
Hamas also expressed disappointment that the report did not refer to human rights violations under the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
Hamas also denied that its security forces have been torturing Palestinian detainees.
The HRW report, which was published Wednesday, said that Palestinians face serious abuses in the Hamas criminal justice system, including arbitrary arrest, incommunicado detention, torture and unfair trials.
Since it took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, Hamas has executed at least three men convicted on the basis of “confessions” apparently obtained by torture, the 43-page report said.
The report documents extensive violations by Hamas security services, including warrantless arrests, failure to inform families promptly of detainees’ whereabouts, and subjecting detainees to torture.
It also documents violations of detainees’ rights by prosecutors and courts.
Military courts frequently try civilians in violation of international law.
Prosecutors often deny detainees access to a lawyer and courts have failed to uphold detainees’ due process rights in cases of warrantless arrest and abusive interrogations, HRW found.
“After five years of Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip, its criminal justice reeks of injustice, routinely violates detainees’ rights, and grants impunity to abusive security services,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at HRW. “Hamas should stop the kinds of abuses that Egyptians, Syrians and others in the region have risked their lives to bring to an end.”
The report pointed out that Hamas authorities have failed to investigate and prosecute abusive security officials, and have in practice granted impunity from prosecution to officials in the Internal Security service in particular.
Witnesses told HRW that the Hamas Internal Security agency, the drugs unit of the civil police and other detectives all torture detainees.
The Independent Commission for Human Rights, a non-partisan Palestinian rights group, reported receiving 147 complaints of torture by various Hamas security agencies in 2011 alone.
The report found that some of the abuse cases were against Palestinians detained on suspicion of collaborating with Israel or the Palestinian Authority.
“There is ample evidence that Hamas security services are torturing people in custody with impunity and denying prisoners their rights,” Stork said. “The Gaza authorities should stop ignoring the abuse and ensure that the justice system respects Palestinians’ rights.”
All rights reserved © 1995 - 2012 The Jerusalem Post.
[Note: The United States, by training the Palestinian Authority security forces, has become the midwife to a repressive police state. However, since the Jews are not behind this repression, no one -- except the author of the below article -- is expressing his “concern” for the “plight” of the “Palestinians”. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
By BASSEM EID
(June 26, 2009) Between 1950 and 1989 in East Germany, the [East German secret police known as the] Stasi persecuted individuals, journalists and intellectuals who were suspected of operating against the regime. The majority of the methods focused on eavesdropping, spying, operating agents (with one agent for every 66 people), stalking and torture. The Stasi also spied on school children, high-school students and ordinary civilians to learn about their relations with West Germany. I can assume that the Stasi didn't receive training from the same Dayton that trains the Palestinian security forces in the West Bank.
However, it is very possible that Lt.-Gen. Keith W. Dayton, the US security coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority, is interested in the Stasi's methods, its success in gathering information and recruiting citizens. The PLO had been a good friend to the Stasi [during the decades of East Germany’s existence]. I dare to assume the PLO even operated concurrent training sessions in East Germany, and accordingly later introduced and employed these methods in Arab countries where it was based.
I'D LIKE to divulge some of the methods the agents of the Palestinian security forces use in Jericho, where I live. For instance, many taxi drivers have become agents. When in Jericho, there is no need to give the driver the address of the person you want to visit; the name is enough. While dropping off someone at a certain address, the driver contacts his operator and report driving person A or B to C's location. Vegetable merchants and farmers have also become agents to protect their own personal interests (working on lots without permission, continuing to drive a taxi without a license, etc.). These people are forced to pay the "cheap" price of becoming an agent to secure their narrow personal interests.
A decade ago, on my first visit to Egypt, the citizens of Cairo warned me about the shoe polishers in the street, who are also in the employ of the Egyptian Security Agency. I believe that is the only thing Jericho lacks today: shoe polishers. There are several high-ranking officers who have between four and six bodyguards each. Those bodyguards act aggressively and violently, as if they constituted the government itself. Embarrassingly, in my eyes, the rule of law doesn't apply to them, but vice versa.
Once, I ran into an interrogator while driving and didn't notice I had been asked to pull over. He requested that I follow him to the station. My interrogator claimed to have known me for several years, after seeing me in a show on Israeli television in 1995, where I presented a harsh criticism of the Palestinian Authority. I asked him how old he had been then, and he answered 11. His vindictive behavior gave me the feeling that he has been pursuing me ever since. I decided to infuriate him even further: when he asked if I was proud to be a Palestinian, I answered "No."
THE MAIN problem with such agents, all of whom have adopted the name Abu al-Abed, is that they're the lowest form of humanity. They intimidate the common people through curses and beatings. Not satisfied with that, they spread rumors about everything they hear or see.
Jericho lives with this reality daily. Each morning you hear about the girls who ran away from their West Bank homes to Jericho, traditionally considered a city of refuge, only to have the Security Agency look for them - or about girls who stayed in X's house and now the Security Agency has found them. Agents and bodyguards will often mention that they haven't receive their salaries, subtly suggesting the need for a quick bribe.
When Israel removed the checkpoint at the southern entrance to Jericho, the Palestinian Security Agency started to work harder and began to despise the local people even more. It claims that Israel has given them too much work by removing the checkpoint. I, as a Palestinian, in consideration of the Palestinian Security Agency's need to take some tasks off its shoulders, request that Israelis put back the checkpoint. But of course that is left to the judgment of Ehud Barak and not me.
After saying good-bye to one friend I met in the streets of Jericho, another would arrive and warn me that the first was under "a question mark," meaning he was apparently a security agent. Events of this sort bring me back to the 1970s, several years after the beginning of the occupation, when people in the streets of Palestine feared each other.
I would like to suggest that Gen. Dayton not just train agents in the use of weapons, beating and torture (eight prisoners have been tortured to death in Palestinian prisons so far this year: five in Gaza, three in the West Bank), but also train them how to behave among their own people. However, I don't believe that ranks high on Dayton's list of priorities.
Whenever someone is beaten or tortured, the justification given is that the person either "opposed the peace process" or "belonged to Hamas."At the end of the day, people return to their routines and shut their eyes to the reality around them.
The writer is the founder and director or the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group based in east Jerusalem.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: Although no one would know it from the posture of the international media and the plethora of international “human rights” organizations, Israel is not the only party preventing Gazans from leaving Gaza. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Hamas travel ban may disrupt PA parlay [excerpt republished]
By Khaled Abu Toameh
(Jerusalem Post, July 27, 2009) Fatah leaders were debating on Sunday whether to go ahead with plans to hold their sixth general assembly next week or postpone it, after Hamas said it wouldn't allow members of the faction to leave the Gaza Strip.
Hamas officials said the Fatah representatives would not be allowed to travel to the West Bank unless the Palestinian Authority released hundreds of Hamas supporters being held without trial in Palestinian detention centers.
Ismail Radwan, a Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip, said that his government would consider the possibility of permitting some 400 Fatah members to leave the Gaza Strip only if the PA released "political detainees" and reopened all Hamas-affiliated institutions that its security forces shut down in recent months.
"Hamas will allow them to go to the [Fatah] conference in Bethlehem if all the political detainees are released and if the Palestinian Authority reopens all the institutions that were closed down," Radwan said. "Fatah is not interested in dialogue [with Hamas], and its ongoing security cooperation with Israel is the main reason why the reconciliation talks failed."
Fatah officials in Ramallah said they had asked Egypt, Syria and Turkey to intervene with Hamas to allow the delegates to leave the Gaza Strip.
. . .
(©) The Jerusalem Post
Hamas blocks 50 [seeking medical treatment in Israel] from leaving Gaza
Aug. 4, 2009
Yaakov Katz , THE JERUSALEM POST
50 Palestinians who were supposed to cross into Israel from the Gaza Strip Tuesday, mostly to receive medical treatment here, were repelled by Hamas security forces at the Beit Hameches Junction just west of the Erez Crossing in the north-eastern Gaza Strip.
Hamas operatives blocked off the road and prevented the Palestinians from reaching the crossing with Israel.
Israeli officials said the Hamas blockade was likely due to suspicions that among the sick were disguised Fatah officials trying to sneak out of Gaza to attend the Fatah conference which got underway in Bethlehem Tuesday morning.
Hamas men at the junction ordered those arriving at the crossing to return to the Interior Ministry in Gaza City and have their permits to leave the Strip reissued.
The officials also said it was likely that by the end of the day, Hamas would allow the Palestinians to cross into Israel, once it was verified that they indeed required medical attention.
The Fatah conference is the sixth of its kind, and the previous one took place in 1989. It is expected to bring together more than 2,000 delegates from many Arab countries.
Delegates are expected to vote for two of Fatah's main bodies, the Central Committee and the Revolutionary Council. The first institution consists of 21 members, while the second has 120 seats. Delegates will also discuss Fatah's strategy, especially concerning the conflict with Israel.
Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report
Copyright 1995 - 2009 The Jerusalem Post
[Note: Hamas employs child laborers, scores of whom have been killed in the process, to build its infiltration tunnels into Israel. Yet there has been only silence from the World over this deadly exploitation of children. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
'At least 160 children died digging tunnels for Hamas'
By JPOST.COM STAFF
Use of child labor not stopped by police in Gaza, where children's "nimble bodies" help dig the tunnels that lead into Israel and Egypt.
(Jerusalem Post, July 28, 2014) Hamas used children to help them dig numerous tunnels into Israel and Egypt, a 2012 paper written for the Journal of Palestine Studies reported.
The paper, titled Gaza's Tunnel Phenomenon: The Unintended Dynamics of Israel's Siege says that little had been done to stop the phenomenon of child labor during the digging of the tunnels by Hamas in Gaza.
In December 2011, the paper's author Nicolas Pelham accompanied a police patrol in Gaza and reported that "nothing was done to impede the use of children in the tunnels, where, much as in Victorian coal mines, they are prized for their nimble bodies."
He continued and said that "at least 160 children have been killed in the tunnels, according to Hamas officials."
Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge 21 days ago, IDF forces have uncovered 31 tunnels leading into Israel.
More than 1,000 Palestinians, mainly women and children, have been killed during the offensive.
All rights reserved © 1995 - 2012 The Jerusalem Post.
[Note: Hamas continues to massacre its own citizens, but the U.N. and the international “human rights” community do not seem to care, because the Jews were not the perpetrators of this crime against the “Palestinians”. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Hamas executes 18 suspected collaborators with Israel in Gaza
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH, REUTERS
Witnesses say several Gazans executed by Hamas in public square.
(Jerusalem Post, August 22, 2014) Hamas gunmen executed 18 Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel in Gaza on Friday.
Hamas security forces killed 11 suspected collaborators at a Gaza police station. Shortly afterward Hamas killed seven more Palestinians in a public execution in a central Gaza square on Friday, witnesses and a Hamas website said.
The victims, their heads covered and hands tied, were shot dead by masked gunmen dressed in black in front of a crowd of worshipers outside a mosque after prayers, witnesses and al-Majd, a pro-Hamas website, said.
In a sign of Hamas's increasing tight grip in the enclave following Israel's targeting killings of three of the group's senior commanders, nearly a dozen Palestinians were reportedly killed at the Jawazat installation in the Strip.
On Thursday, three other Palestinians suspected of collaboration with Israel were executed, according to Hamas-affiliated websites.
A senior Hamas security source was quoted as saying that those three, whose names were not released, were executed “after the completion of revolutionary procedures” against them.
The recent spate of arrests and executions for alleged collaboration with Israel comes as the IAF successfully struck and killed several high level commanders in the Gaza Strip, as well as an attempted assassination of the Hamas military wing's commander Mohammad Deif.
Among the commanders killed by Israeli airstrikes in recent days were Muhammad Abu Shamalah and Ra'ad Atar who were both involved in the 2006 kidnapping of Gilad Schalit.
Hours after the targeted strike on the Hamas commanders, Ismail Haniyeh, the former head of the Hamas regime in Gaza, released a statement that was read aloud by the Hamas television network.
Haniyeh said that Hamas “was saddened over the deaths of our brothers and commanders who went on the path of great ones," and that, “After a senior operative is killed, we immediately continue on our path without hesitating or stepping back.”
Hamas has claimed that Deif is still alive and was not in his home when the IAF bombed the house killing his wife and two of his children.
The three executed on Thursday were among seven suspected collaborators who were arrested while they were searching for targets in the Gaza Strip for Israel to attack, the source said.
It was not clear whether the remaining four suspected collaborators would also be executed.
The source claimed that Hamas and other “resistance groups” had uncovered several informants in the field and through “special intelligence techniques.”
The source called on residents of the Gaza Strip not to talk about the “resistance groups and their leaders, because the collaborators are looking for any piece of information to pass on to the enemy in light of pressure and threats by Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) officers.”
Sources in the Gaza Strip said that several suspected collaborators have been summarily executed by Hamas since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge.
Hamas security officers recently arrested a number of women on suspicion of passing on information to Israel about the movements of militiamen and the results of Israeli air strikes, they said.
All rights reserved © 1995 - 2014 The Jerusalem Post.
Will Hamas Be Held Accountable for War Crimes?
by Khaled Abu Toameh
Gatestone Institute August 25, 2014 at 5:00 am
What Khaled Mashaal forgot to mention was that Hamas and the Islamic State do have at least one thing in common: they both carry out extrajudicial executions as a means of terrorizing and intimidating those who stand in their way or who dare to challenge their terrorism.
According to Hamas's logic, all members of the Palestinian Authority government are "traitors" who should be dragged to public squares to be shot by firing squads. According to the same logic, Mahmoud Abbas himself should be executed for maintaining security coordination with and talking to Israelis.
As for the two executed women, the sources said that their only fault was that they had been observed asking too many questions about Palestinians who were killed in airstrikes.
Hamas's extrajudicial executions of Palestinians suspected of "collaboration" with Israel are a sign that the Islamist movement is beginning to panic in the wake of Israel's successful targeting of its leaders.
But the public executions by firing squad of more than 26 suspected "collaborators" in the Gaza Strip could also turn many Palestinians against Hamas.
Masked Hamas members (dressed in black) prepare to execute local Palestinians who they claim spied for Israel, Aug. 22, 2014, in Gaza. (Image source: Reuters video screenshot)
Hamas has banned the publication of the names of the executed Palestinians "out of concern for the social fabric" of Palestinian society.
In other words, Hamas is afraid that revealing the identities of the executed "collaborators" would spark outrage in the Gaza Strip and possible calls for revenge, especially from the families of the victims.
Hamas says that the suspected "collaborators" were brought before firing squads after being tried before special "revolutionary tribunals" consisting of security experts and officers.
It says that in time of war, there is no room for holding proper legal procedures and that security circumstances require secret trials followed by swift executions.
Yet some Palestinians in the Gaza Strip argue that in the absence of proper legal procedures, it is impossible to tell whether the convicted Palestinians were guilty or innocent.
Sources in the Gaza Strip revealed that some of the executed men belonged to Abbas's Fatah faction and had no connection with Israel.
The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights was the only group that dared to criticize Hamas for embarking on a spree of public executions in front of passersby, including many children.
A statement released by the human rights group said it was following events "with deep concern news about extrajudicial executions in the Gaza Strip."
Noting that among those executed by Hamas were two Palestinian women, the group called on the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to intervene to "stop these extrajudicial executions, regardless of the reason and motives behind them."
Raji Surani, director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, complained that the public extrajudicial executions "cause harm to all Palestinians" and called for "honoring the rule of law and human rights."
However, "honoring the rule of law and human rights" has been a practice alien to Hamas ever since it seized control over the Gaza Strip through a violent and bloody coup against the Palestinian Authority in the summer of 2007.
Back then, Hamas killed dozens (some say hundreds) of Palestinians, including many from the rival Fatah faction headed by Mahmoud Abbas. Fatah members who were not killed during the fighting were later tossed from tall buildings or lynched in public squares.
One prominent Fatah activist, Samih al-Madhoun, was dragged to the street and brutally lynched by Hamas militiamen and supporters.
Over the past few days, Hamas officials have gone out of their way to tell the world that their movement is not like the Islamic State terror organization, which has become notorious for beheading almost everyone it finds standing the way of its creating an Islamic Caliphate.
"We are not a religious, violent group," Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said in an interview with Yahoo News from his luxurious hotel in Qatar. He said that Hamas, unlike the Islamic State terrorist group, operates only in Israel, the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
What Mashaal forgot to mention in the interview was that Hamas and the Islamic State do have at least one thing in common: they both carry out extrajudicial executions as a means of terrorizing and intimidating those who stand in their way or dare to challenge their terrorism.
Even the Palestinian Authority [PA] now seems to be drawing an analogy between Hamas and the Islamic State and other radical Islamist terrorist groups.
Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a senior aide to Mahmoud Abbas, strongly condemned Hamas's extrajudicial executions, adding that that they are "reminiscent of the summary executions carried out by Wahhabi militant groups in other parts of the Middle East."
Abdel Rahim added, "The executions were done in cold blood and according to Hamas law, which is: Who is not with Hamas is against it."
Under Palestinian Authority law, all death sentences must be approved by the president of the PA. But in 2005, PA President Mahmoud Abbas issued a moratorium on death sentences -- a prohibition that did not stop Hamas from pursuing executions under the pretext that the PA president was no longer a legitimate leader since his term had expired in 2009.
It is notable that the latest executions in the Gaza Strip were carried out after the formation of the Hamas-backed Palestinian "national consensus" government a few months ago. These extrajudicial executions show that despite the unity agreement between the two parties, Hamas continues to act as the sole authority in the Gaza Strip, where it has its own security forces, militias and "revolutionary courts."
It is also ironic that Hamas has chosen to execute suspected "collaborators" at a time when it is seen as part of the "national consensus" government that continues to conduct security coordination with Israel. According to Hamas's logic, all members of the Palestinian government are "traitors" who should also be dragged to public squares and the yards of mosques to be shot by firing squads.
According to the same logic, Abbas himself should also be executed for maintaining security coordination and talking to Israelis.
Hamas does not even need to interrogate or hold a trial for Abbas because he recently announced, during a meeting with Israelis in his office in Ramallah, that "security coordination with Israel is sacred."
Sources in the Gaza Strip said that the executed men were affiliated with Fatah and had been suspected of maintaining contact with senior Fatah officials in Ramallah and some Arab countries. As for the two executed women, the sources said that their only fault was that they had been observed by neighbors asking too many questions about Palestinians who were killed in Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip over the past few weeks.
Hamas's hysteria has seen it turn not only on its political rivals in Fatah and innocent Palestinians, but also against its own followers. According to sources in the Gaza Strip, Hamas arrested more than 250 of its own members after Israel last week killed its three top military commanders, Raed al-Attar, Mohamed Abu Shamaleh and Mohamed Barhoum.
The public executions in the Gaza Strip are a sign that Hamas is losing the war with Israel, particularly in the intelligence field. The three slain Hamas commanders are said to have been hiding inside a tunnel 30-meters [100 feet] deep, beneath a house in the southern town of Rafah. But this did not prevent the Israel Defense Forces from locating them and killing them. For Hamas, this is a serious security and intelligence blunder.
That is why Hamas is nervous and anxious to show that it is capable of responding to the targeted killing of its commanders. And there is nothing easier than dragging men and women into public squares and executing them in public after declaring them Israeli "agents."
The extrajudicial executions will be added to the long list of crimes committed by Hamas against Palestinians. But the question remains whether the international community will ever hold Hamas accountable for its war crimes. Judging from the apathy of the international community and the United Nations to Hamas's extrajudicial killings and other crimes, probably not.
Copyright © 2014 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved.
The UN, the "State of Palestine" and the Torture of Women
by Khaled Abu Toameh January 15, 2019
This is the kind of story that the "State of Palestine" does not intend to raise during its chairmanship of the largest bloc of developing countries at the UN. It seems that, from the point of view of the Palestinian Authority leadership, Jbara's ordeal does not fall within the category of human rights.
Jbara's story has barely attracted the attention of the international mainstream media. As far as many foreign journalists covering the Middle East are concerned, a Palestinian woman complaining about torture in a Palestinian prison is not newsworthy. Had she been detained by Israel, Jbara would have most likely made it to the front pages of the world's leading newspapers and magazines in a matter of minutes.
The PA regularly complains about human rights violations of Palestinians held in Israeli prison for security-related offenses. But when the PA's own security forces detain and torture a mother of three, Palestinian leaders are found elsewhere -- like at the helm of a UN bloc.
The Palestinian Authority's recent arrest and torture of a Palestinian mother of three is the kind of story that the "State of Palestine" does not intend to raise during its chairmanship of the largest bloc of developing countries at the UN. Pictured: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the UN General Assembly on September 27, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
A Palestinian mother of three has accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces of torturing her and threatening to rape her during the two months she was held in a PA prison in the West Bank.
The accusation by the woman, Suha Jbara, 31, came on the eve of PA President Mahmoud Abbas's visit to New York, where he is scheduled to assume the chairmanship of the largest bloc of developing countries in the United Nations, known as the "Group of 77 and China."
As chairman of the group, which represents 134 nations, Abbas and the "State of Palestine" will negotiate and co-sponsor proposals and amendments on various developmental, humanitarian and legal issues that are on the agenda of the UN.
On January 11, Jbara, who was released last week from detention, held a press conference in Ramallah in which she detailed the various methods of torture she experienced at the hands of her Palestinian interrogators. Her horrific experience, however, does not seem to be on the agenda of the UN or the Group of 77 and China, headed by Abbas. Apparently, the UN group's members, who voted in favor of naming the "State of Palestine" as chairman of the group, do not care much about the human rights record of the PA security forces in the West Bank.
Jbara, a dual citizen of the US and Panama, was arrested by the Palestinian Authority security forces in early November 2018 at her home near the West Bank city of Ramallah. According to Jbara, she was accused of "illegally collecting donations" for families of Palestinians killed or wounded during clashes with the Israeli army.
Bizarrely, the PA is accusing Jbara of something that the PA itself has done for years and is still doing: paying salaries to Palestinians in Israeli prison and the families of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis. According to Jbara, her interrogators also accused her of "collaborating" with Israel. During her detention, she went on hunger strike for 27 days.
The torture, according to Jbara, included pouring cold water on her face, solitary confinement for several days, strip-search, sleep deprivation, lengthy hours of interrogation and verbal abuse.
"The first stages were the worst," Jbara told the Palestinian Wattan TV station.
"They interrogated me for several hours, without taking into consideration that I felt sick. They moved me from one office to another. I saw a number of detainees who were blindfolded and handcuffed. The interrogators were pouring cold water on their faces and some of the detainees were lying on the floor. It was a horrifying experience for me."
Jbara also said that the Palestinian interrogators threatened to take her three children away from her. "They used my children to blackmail me," she reported. The interrogators apparently also threatened her mother, her sisters and her with sexual assault. "I'm now in a very bad health condition," she said. "I even have difficulty walking."
Last month, a representative of Amnesty International met with Jbara, while she was still being held in Palestinian detention, and heard about her brutal treatment at the hands of her interrogators. "The Palestinian authorities must urgently investigate the torture and ill-treatment of Suha Jbara, an activist who has told Amnesty International that she was beaten, slammed against a wall and threatened with sexual violence by her interrogators," the organization wrote.
According to Amnesty's report, Jbara described how, upon her arrest, she had a seizure, lost consciousness and was taken to a hospital. Armed security officials later dragged her barefoot, out of the hospital, and transferred her to the Jericho Central Prison.
There, when she asked for a drink, a male interrogator threw water in her face, slapped her, punched her in the chest and back, and threatened her with further violence. She was blindfolded and handcuffed throughout her interrogation, and was not allowed to drink water or use the lavatory.
"He insulted me all the time," she said, "used very dirty and violent sexual language, threatened to bring a doctor to look into my virginity and say that I was a whore, and threatened to hurt my family and to take my kids away from me."
According to Saleh Higazi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International:
"Suha Jbara has described her torture in harrowing detail. In her testimony she gives an account of ruthless interrogators who have shamelessly flouted Palestine's obligations to treat prisoners humanely and violated the absolute prohibition under international law of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."
Yet, Jbara's story has barely attracted the attention of the international mainstream media. As far as many foreign journalists covering the Middle East are concerned, a Palestinian woman complaining about torture in a Palestinian prison is not newsworthy. Had she been detained by Israel, Jbara would have most likely made it to the front pages of the world's leading newspapers and magazines in a matter of minutes.
This is the kind of story that the "State of Palestine" does not intend to raise during its chairmanship of the largest bloc of developing countries at the UN. It seems that, from the point of view of the Palestinian Authority leadership, Jbara's ordeal does not fall within the category of human rights.
The PA regularly complains about human rights violations of Palestinians held in Israeli prison for security-related offenses. But when the PA's own security forces detain and torture a mother of three, Palestinian leaders are found elsewhere -- like at the helm of a UN bloc.
Actually, Palestinian leaders can rest easy concerning their torture of Palestinians. By being selected to head the bloc of developing countries, Abbas and the leaders of the "State of Palestine" will be in the company of countries rewarded for human rights violations -- including Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Venezuela and Yemen -- just elected as the vice-president of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, despite Yemen being ranked "as the worst country in the world on gender inequality (149th out of 149)" -- as well as several countries in Africa and Asia. That group exemplifies the old saying: birds of a feather flock together -- and these birds are definitely of the predator type.
Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.
Copyright © 2019 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved.
[Note: In August 2007, the electricity grid in portions of Gaza was briefly shut down. Although Israel was initially blamed for this “atrocity”, it transpired that the real culprit was the European Union, which had temporarily ceased paying for some of Gaza’s fuel supply. Consequently, international outrage did not follow. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
The EU precedent
(Jerusalem Post, August 26, 2007) For several days last week many thousands of Gaza residents had to make do without electricity. Had Israel switched off the power -- most of which is generated by Israel -- it is safe to assume that the international community would have been incensed.
In fact, the process of blaming Israel had already been kick-started with news that fuel deliveries from Israel to Gaza were being suspended at the Nahal Oz crossing -- because of warnings of an impending terror attack.
The fact that the lights had just then gone out in Gaza was automatically ascribed to Nahal Oz's closure. The Hamas-led Gaza regime rushed to make the link.
The Gaza Generating Company (GGC, which supplies less than a quarter of the Strip's power) idled three of its four generators, and its head, Rafik Malikha, summoned a press conference and pointed fingers at Israel: "We received no fuel for two days because Israel prevents vehicles from approaching the crossing," he declared.
Yet even as many observers bought into the Israel-to-blame line, Nahal Oz was reopened, but the Gaza blackout persisted. It emerged that the European Union was responsible.
EU donors, who foot the bill for Gaza's fuel purchases, accused Hamas of siphoning off the GGC's income to finance extraneous activities -- the nature of which it is, unfortunately, not difficult to deduce.
The true story was presented, from Ramallah, by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. "After Hamas took over the electric company, it began collecting revenues from the population to fund its militia," he explained. "This in turn drove the EU to withhold its aid for providing fuel."
European resolve on this issue has proved fleeting, even though the EU caught Hamas red-handed. Some 20 million per month is again flowing into Gaza to finance fuel purchases for the GGC, without any reliable guarantees that some of this income won't be diverted for nefarious purposes.
The EU has now discontinued its sanctions, having received unspecified, and doubtless empty, "assurances" that Hamas will change course.
If this brief episode showed anything -- apart from the knee-jerk alacrity to blame Israel for all Palestinian ills -- it is that Hamas is as corrupt as it has accurately and resonantly accused Fatah of being. In the past it was Hamas that charged that Fatah was skimming off GGC earnings.
Hamas debt-collectors have for weeks been canvassing the Strip from door-to-door, ordering residents to immediately pay their electricity arrears -- not to the company, but to Hamas. The fact that even the EU could no longer abide the duplicity and Gaza's gangster-style fund-raising speaks volumes.
The outage that kept much of Gaza not only darkened but also without water (since the pumping stations couldn't function) was caused by some of Gaza's best friends.
Albeit briefly, the EU didn't shy from shutting off the power to express its umbrage at being cheated. Israel, dreading adverse reaction from the EU, among others, fears doing the same even in self-defense.
Ironically, the Ashkelon power station that produces most of the Hamas bailiwick's power is regularly targeted by Kassam rockets. Sderot children are expected to go back to school in a few days' time despite the danger that their classrooms will be hit.
Yet while the EU resorted to collective punishment to demonstrate its anger at the abuse of its funds, Israel is wary of doing the same when lives are at stake.
Israel rightly does not want to create a humanitarian disaster in Gaza, or to directly exacerbate deterioration there -- both because of international criticism and, more importantly, its own genuine concern for the well-being of ordinary people.
But the EU precedent only underlines how justified Israel would be in demanding, as a condition for continued supply of electricity to the Strip, a complete halt to the Kassam attacks, among other measures.
The EU's intervention represented a perfect opportunity for Israel to better explain to the international community what is at stake when Hamas abuses the world's ongoing efforts to help the Palestinians.
Sooner or later, if the rocket attacks continue and the terror networks flourish, Israel will be left with no choice but to apply such and other penalties, to prevent Hamas in Gaza from biting the Israeli hand that helps feed it.
Israel would do well to prepare the ground for such moves by drawing world attention to the EU's extraordinary measure, and to the cynical governance by Hamas that prompted it.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: Approximately 40,000 “Palestinian” Arabs have lived in Iraq for generations. In the aftermath of the 2003 Iraq War, during which the United States conquered Iraq and deposed its dictator, Saddam Hussein, liberated Iraqis began to evict “Palestinians” from their homes and to otherwise wreak vengeance upon them in retaliation for their slavish support of Iraq's former regime. Yet, predictably, no advocate for the “Palestinian” Cause -- even among the “Palestinian” leadership itself -- has deigned to cease fabricating calumnies against Israel long enough to publicly protest the very real threat to the lives of “Palestinians” residing in Iraq. For, condemning Israel is the limit of the World's “concern” for the “plight” of the “Palestinians”. Despite what seems to be a grossly-inflated figure for the “Palestinian” population of Iraq, the following article nonetheless shines some rare light on the serious dangers -- many of them self-inflicted -- which confront the “Palestinians” in that country. It is instructive that from 2003 until now there have not been any public protests or condemnations by the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, individual Arab or (non-Arab) Muslim states, or even the leadership of the Palestinian Authority over this crisis. Nor have there been any public demonstrations or condemnations by any of the numerous non-governmental “human rights” organizations throughout the World, such as Amnesty International, Christian Aid and Human Rights Watch, which constantly accuse Israel of committing war crimes -- and even genocide -- against the “Palestinians”. At most, some Palestinian Authority officials have recently fretted that the “Palestinians” of Iraq might be deported from their places of residence to the territories governed by the Palestinian Authority, thereby demonstrating the latter’s distinct lack of enthusiasm for hosting such a “Palestinian Ingathering”. Otherwise, there has been virtually no media coverage of this situation. Alas, if only it were the Jews who were persecuting these “Palestinians”, then international outrage and front page headlines would quickly follow. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Palestinians in Iraq allege persecution
By Khaled Abu Toameh
(Jerusalem Post, May 30, 2005) Following reports that Palestinians have been involved in the latest wave of terrorist attacks in Iraq, Palestinian Authority officials on Sunday expressed deep concern that the new Iraqi government would deport thousands of Palestinians.
The officials told The Jerusalem Post that Iraqi security forces had recently arrested dozens of Palestinians in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities on charges of helping terrorists launch suicide attacks against Iraqi policemen and US troops. Some of the Palestinians who were arrested alleged that they had been tortured during interrogations.
The Palestinian community in Iraq consists of some 200,000 people, who are mostly located in Baghdad. Saddam Hussein granted the Palestinians special privileges and paid for their accommodation and education.
"We're very concerned for the safety of the Palestinian community in Iraq," said one official. "We believe the new government in Iraq is targeting Palestinians because of their support for the former regime of Saddam Hussein."
Iraqi security officials confirmed last week that a number of Palestinians had been arrested for allegedly aiding insurgents in carrying out suicide attacks that killed hundreds of Iraqi civilians over the past two months. Some of the suspects later appeared on Iraqi TV, where they confessed to their role in the carnage.
Another official here said Palestinians living in the Iraqi capital were being systematically harassed by Iraqi security forces. He claimed that most of the attacks were being carried out by Shi'ite soldiers serving in the Iraqi army.
Wajih al-Aghbar, 30, a Palestinian who has been living in Iraq for many years with his wife and three children, was recently transferred to a hospital in Nablus after being tortured by Iraqi security personnel.
Aghbar said he was stopped by members of the Iraqi National Guard as he was on his way to work in Baghdad.
"When they discovered that I was a Palestinian, they handcuffed and blindfolded me and took me to prison," he said. "They beat me severely and cursed me repeatedly. They told me that we Palestinians are terrorists who carry out suicide attacks that threaten world peace and security.
They told me to leave Iraq immediately." Aghbar said many Palestinians have been targeted by Iraqi security forces and citizens over the past
few weeks. "Many Palestinians have been thrown out of their homes and are sleeping in public parks and schools," he said. "Many Iraqis are accusing the Palestinians of destroying their economy."
Ali al-Shalah, an Iraqi academic, defended the crackdown on Palestinians in his country. He said many Palestinians had made a mistake by joining Saddam's security services and participating in the oppression of Iraqi citizens.
"Some Palestinians reached very high ranks in Saddam's secret police," he said. "Some of them were even promoted to generals. One of them even served as head of Saddam's intelligence service."
Shalah said Saddam used the Palestinian group led by Muhammad Abbas, who was known as Abu Abbas, to crush the popular uprising against his regime in 1991. Abu Abbas, who died in US custody two years ago, was responsible for the hijacking of the Achille Lauro ship in 1985.
Zuheir Andraus, editor of the Nazareth-based weekly Kul Al-Arab, described the attacks on Palestinians in Iraq as another nakba (catastrophe) -- a term used by Palestinians when referring to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Arabs during the 1948 War of Independence.
"Palestinians living in Iraq are being subjected to daily attacks and humiliation," Andraus said. "The surrogate government in Baghdad has expelled them from their homes, turning them into refugees living on the streets and in parks and school yards. Now they are afraid that the new Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, who has been exchanging letters with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, would issue a decree to transfer the Palestinians from Iraq."
Adli Sadek, a prominent columnist and PA official, warned that the Palestinians living in Iraq were facing a real and dangerous catastrophe. "Some 700 families have been kicked out of their homes in Baghdad," he said. "Many of our young men are facing death threats. At least 300 families have set up a refugee camp called al-Awdah, or Return "-- a reference to the refugees' right of return to their original homes inside Israel.
"The situation is very grave and unbearable," Sadek added. "Our leadership must raise this issue with Washington because the Americans need to know that the National Guard which they established and trained in Iraq is killing and persecuting Palestinians."
(©) The Jerusalem Post
Palestinians: 'Ethnic cleansing' in Iraq
By Khaled Abu Toameh
(Jerusalem Post, February 2, 2007) After 18 members of her family were brutally murdered by Shiite militiamen in Baghdad, Nadia Othman, a 36-year-old Palestinian mother of three, finally managed to escape to Jordan together with hundreds of Palestinian families that had been living in Iraq for decades.
In 2006, more than 600 Palestinians were killed in the Iraqi capital in what Palestinian leaders and political activists are describing as a "systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing." Thousands of Palestinian families have been forced to flee Iraq since the downfall of Saddam Hussein, but many still have no place to go to.
Iraq's Arab neighbors, Syria and Jordan, have imposed stringent restrictions on the entry of the refugees, leaving many of them stranded along the border in harsh and inhuman conditions.
Until three years ago, the number of Palestinians living in Iraq was estimated at 30,000. Under Saddam, Palestinians enjoyed many privileges that only a few Iraqis were entitled to: free accommodation, free health services and free education.
Today, Nadia said, "There are less than 10,000 Palestinians living in Iraq and most of them are afraid to walk out of their homes. My sister, who stayed behind, told me this week that she hasn't left her apartment in the Baladiyat suburb of Baghdad for the past three weeks for fear of being killed by Shi'ite militiamen. I'm very concerned for the safety of my mother and five brothers who have still not been able to escape from Iraq."
Nadia's decision to leave her home came shortly after one of her brothers, Muhammad Rashid, was killed by Shiite gunmen as he was on his way to the school where he worked as an Arabic language teacher.
"The murderers stopped him in the street, asked for his ID documents, and when they saw that he was a Palestinian refugee, they immediately fired three bullets at his head," she said. "On the same day, they kidnapped and murdered Farid Al-Sayed, chairman of the Palestinian-controlled Haifa Sports Club in Iraq."
Another Palestinian who fled Iraq and was recently reunited with his family in the northern West Bank described the campaign against the Palestinians in Iraq as "genocide." The Shiites, particularly the pro-Iranian Mahdi Army, are waging a war to eliminate the entire Palestinian population in Iraq, he told The Jerusalem Post. "This is a real genocide. Why isn't the international community doing anything to stop this? How come none of the Arab countries has even issued a statement condemning the atrocities?"
He said Palestinians who were still living in Baghdad are so afraid that they are using forged documents to conceal their true identity. "It's very dangerous to be a Palestinian in Iraq," he said. "The murderers stop you in the street and ask you to say a few sentences. If they see that you have a Palestinian accent, they make you stand against the wall and shoot you. These are ruthless murderers."
In the past few months, he added, he heard "horror" stories about Palestinians who were kidnapped and brutally tortured by the Shiite militiamen. "Some have had their ears and noses cut off," he said. "I saw them with my own eyes. The heads of some victims were severed and sent to their families. Many families have had their homes ransacked before they were forced to leave."
Zakariya Al-Agha, head of the PLO Refugees Department, expressed deep concern over the fate of the Palestinians in Iraq.
"A large number of Palestinians who ran away from Iraq are now living in a makeshift refugee camp in the Ruwaished area near the Iraq-Jordan border," he said. "The Jordanian authorities have allowed many to enter the kingdom, especially those families whose parents carry Jordanian citizenship, but that is not enough."
Agha said another 400 Palestinians were now living in tents provided by humanitarian organizations along the border between Syria and Iraq after the Syrian authorities denied them entry. "Others were more fortunate to find shelter in Egypt and Yemen," he said. "Just last week another four Palestinians were abducted and brutally murdered in Baghdad. Our people in Iraq are facing ethnic cleansing and this is a real tragedy."
According to information gathered by Agha's department, some 100 Palestinians who were kidnapped in the past few months are still missing and presumed dead. In addition, the Iraqi authorities have arrested dozens of Palestinians for unspecified charges.
A Palestinian man who was released two weeks ago from prison in Iraq said his interrogators repeatedly accused him and all Palestinians of supporting Saddam Hussein's suppression of the Shiites over the past three decades. He had been kidnapped together with 40 Palestinians from the Amin neighborhood in Iraq.
"When we arrived at the prison," he said, "the Shiite militiamen began shouting, 'We have brought the Palestinians, we have brought the terrorists!' After they beat us for hours, they took us for questioning. They kept asking, 'Why do you Palestinians love Saddam Hussein so much? Why did you take to the streets to protest against his execution? We want all the Palestinians out of Iraq or else we will finish off all of you.'"
Khairiyeh Yehya, director of a think-tank organization in Jenin, said Palestinians in Iraq were paying a heavy price "just because of their nationality."
"The defenseless Palestinians... have become easy prey for the agents of the American occupation and all those who hate our people," she said. "How can anyone justify these killings?"
Atef Udwan, minister for refugee affairs in the
Hamas-led government, said his office was searching for a way to allow the
Palestinians in Iraq to move to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"This requires a political solution," he said. "We need to persuade Israel to give these poor people permission to enter our territories. This is a purely humanitarian issue that must be addressed urgently."
(©) The Jerusalem Post
The Palestinians No One Tells You About
by Khaled Abu Toameh
The Gatestone Institute June 19, 2020 at 5:00 am
"The animals that live in European countries have a better life than us... [The] UNHCR lied a lot to us.... Even the [Israeli] enemy has not acted in this way." — Palestinians in Iraq, Al-Youm newspaper, May 28, 2020.
Before the downfall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, there were about 34,000 Palestinians living in Iraq. Only a few thousand Palestinians are now living there, and many face harassment, threats of deportation, media scapegoating, arbitrary detention, torture and murder.
The Arab states unremittingly subject Palestinians to apartheid and discriminatory measures. Yet the heads of the UN and its member states seem too busy with their obsession with Israel to attend to their pleas of these Palestinians, who are being deprived of basic rights in Iraq and throughout the Arab world.
Facing discrimination, poverty, and misery, Palestinians residing in Iraq have finally broken their silence in an attempt to draw the world's attention to their predicament. The Palestinians are accusing the Iraqis and the United Nations of taking a series of measures that have further aggravated the conditions of hundreds of Palestinian families in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.
In a letter to the Iraqi newspaper Al-Youm, Palestinians complained that "the animals that live in European countries have a better life than us."
These animals, the refugees said, "have someone to defend them, protect them and provide them with housing worthy of human beings. As for us, the Palestinians, there is no local or international official or organization that inspects our conditions."
The Palestinians' complaint was mainly directed against the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR), after its decision to halt financial aid to Palestinian families in Iraq.
"UNHCR lied a lot to us," the Palestinians wrote. "We have become victims like sheep surrounded by wolves. Even the [Israeli] enemy has not acted in this way."
The Palestinians pointed out UNCHR had informed a large number of Palestinian families in Iraq of its decision to cease disbursement of rental allowances starting March 2020.
Issued at the end of last year, the decision to stop paying for rent and other services threatens to displace about 300 families receiving assistance through a special program approved by UNCHR about 15 years ago.
The Palestinian Authority ambassador to Iraq, Ahmed Akel, warned that the humanitarian condition of the families will deteriorate due to the abrupt removal of the rental allowances. Akel said that the Palestinian Authority embassy contacted the UN offices in order to obtain the lists of families who will no longer receive rent allowances and to learn about the real motives behind the decision.
Despite the ambassador's statement, the Palestinian families said that all Palestinian officials have ignored their appeals for help.
"Are we really Palestinians?" they asked in their letter.
"If we were not Palestinians, our situation would have been better, and we would have seen [Palestinian] officials fighting valiantly to recover our rights. We are not beggars. We only want our legal rights. We are human beings, and all we're asking for is shelter for our children. We don't want any party to trade in us as if we were a flock of sheep."
Before the downfall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, there were about 34,000 Palestinians living in Iraq. Only a few thousand Palestinians are now living there, and many face harassment, threats of deportation, media scapegoating, arbitrary detention, torture and murder.
Iraqis' contempt for Palestinians reached its peak last month during Al-Quds Day ("Jerusalem Day") celebrations in Baghdad. Many Iraqis were unhappy with the event, often used to express Arab and Islamic solidarity with the Palestinians.
Most of the comments by Iraqis on social media platforms included anti-Palestinian insults and held Palestinians responsible for terrorism in Iraq.
Several Palestinians expressed shock and anger over the Iraqis' hateful posts.
"Sometimes they accuse Palestinians of terrorism, and sometimes they accuse us of being Saddam followers," said one Palestinian. "Now they are holding us responsible for the deteriorating situation in Iraq and are claiming that the Iraqi government cares more about the Palestinians than about Iraqis."
"Whoever wants to liberate Jerusalem and Palestine should respect the human rights of the Palestinians," another Palestinian commented. "They should also release Palestinian prisoners and restore payments to widows and children. We say it to our Iraqi brothers: Your priority should be to solve your problems and improve your conditions."
"We want you to stop insulting Palestinians and Palestine," said a third Palestinian, addressing the Iraqis.
Earlier this year, Palestinians living in Iraq took to the streets to demonstrate against UNCHR's decision to stop paying housing allowances to Palestinian families. They also protested an Iraqi government decision to abolish a pre-2003 law that granted Palestinians equal rights to Iraqis.
"The Palestinians [in Iraq] primarily suffer from unemployment and poor living standards," Nabil Samara, a Palestinian activist involved in organizing the protest, said.
"This is not to mention that they are ineligible for government employment under Iraqi law. Since the Saddam Hussein regime was ousted in 2003, the Iraqi government has not kept the promises they made to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. On the contrary, Iraqi authorities withheld food ration cards and cut welfare salaries. Also, the wives of [late] Palestinian employees were denied pensions."
Yonadam Kanna, the first Christian member of the Iraqi parliament since 2003, told The New Arab website that a Palestinian living in Iraq does not have equal rights.
"One of the most important items that we seek to enact is the right to own property, inheritance and retirement," Kanna said. "There are people who have worked in the country for 30 years without any rights."
Palestinian activist Ahmed Abdullah noted that the children of the Palestinian community who are concentrated in Baghdad suffer from extremely poor financial conditions. "Some families are no longer able to provide meat for meals or buy used clothes," Abdullah said.
The Iraqi mistreatment of Palestinians is yet another example of the discrimination Palestinians have long been facing in Arab states, particularly Lebanon. It has "an elaborate racist political system designed to discriminate against Palestinians," according to Palestinian journalist Zaher Abu Hamdeh. Palestinians living there are banned from working in many professions, including medicine, law, and engineering, as well as from holding jobs as taxi drivers and barbers.
Given mounting tensions between the Palestinians and several Arab states, particularly the Gulf countries, it is unlikely that the Iraqis will upgrade their treatment of the Palestinians.
The Arab states unremittingly subject Palestinians to apartheid and discriminatory measures. Yet the heads of the UN and its member states seem too busy with their obsession with Israel to attend to the pleas of these Palestinians, who are being deprived of basic rights in Iraq and throughout the Arab world.
Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.
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[Note: Scores, perhaps hundreds, of “Palestinian” civilians residing in Nahr el-Bared, one of the 12 Apartheid towns reserved for “Palestinians” in Lebanon (more commonly labeled “refugee camps” by the international media), are being killed by Lebanese army troops as the latter battle Islamists, mostly “Palestinian”, who are also based in this town (as well as in the other 11 Apartheid towns of Lebanon). Yet the World -- including the Arab world which regards itself as the preeminent defender of “Palestinian” rights -- seems to have no interest in excoriating the Lebanese government for the civilian carnage as well as for the massive infrastructure damage inflicted upon this “Palestinian” town. In fact, some Arab countries have even provided Lebanon with military supplies in order to assist it in its war against the town. And even the Palestinian Authority has issued a public statement which implies that the massive assault against this “Palestinian” town is justified! Moreover, the Lebanese government has been able to bar the media -- seeking to accurately report on the siege -- from entering this battered town without encountering protest from any journalistic quarter. The result of Lebanon’s onslaught is that this “Palestinian” town has been virtually razed by tank and artillery bombardment, and more than 90% of its civilian population has fled, while the World, including the entire spectrum of international “human rights” organizations (such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Christian Aid), has averted its gaze. Perhaps Israel should have assisted Lebanon in perpetrating these War Crimes against the civilian population of Nahr el-Bared, so as to awaken the World’s “conscience” against these atrocities. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
1,000s Flee Refugee Camp
Area Targeted By Lebanese Troops
By SCHEHEREZADE FARAMARZI
May 23 2007
TRIPOLI, Lebanon -- People flooded out of a besieged Palestinian refugee camp Tuesday night, waving white flags and telling of bodies lying in the streets and inside wrecked houses after three days of fighting between Lebanese troops and Islamic militants.
Earlier in the day, a relief convoy came under fire when a cease-fire abruptly shattered as U.N. workers tried to deliver food and water to residents. A U.N. official said some who approached the convoy seeking supplies were wounded or killed, but he did not have exact figures.
The nighttime lull that allowed the escape did not appear to be part of an organized truce -- and there was no sign the battle was over. The government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said it was determined to uproot Fatah Islam, which took up residence in the camp late last year.
There was no immediate indication of whether the flight of civilians would give the government a freer hand in bombarding militants holed up in the camp. The army has said its troops were trying to target only militant positions.
Twenty-nine soldiers and at least 20 militants had been killed since the battle began Sunday in the heaviest internal fighting in Lebanon since the 1975-90 civil war. But the number of civilian casualties remained unknown because relief workers were not able to get inside the camp.
When fighting quieted after sunset, thousands of people took the chance to escape. They streamed out of Nahr el-Bared's western gate on foot and in cars, pickups and minivans jammed with men, women and children. Many waved white towels or white plastic bags from the windows as they passed Lebanese soldiers encircling the camp.
The camp is home to some 31,000 Palestinians who live crowded along narrow streets. Video taken in the camp showed streets littered with damaged vehicles, shards of glass and rubble from wrecked buildings, some in flames from shelling.
Despite broadcast images of Arab troops battering a Palestinian community, Lebanon's government has received widespread support at home and from Arab countries, some of which have even provided weapons to help the siege.
The backing underlined Arab leaders' desire to break what they see as a nascent terror group. Fatah Islam's leader, Palestinian Shaker al-Absi, has been linked to the former head of al-Qaida in Iraq and is believed to have recruited about 100 fighters, including militants from Saudi Arabia, Yemen and other Arab countries.
Some 215,000 people live in 11 camps, which are rife with armed groups and Islamic extremists.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press
Lebanese 'defensive shield' -- no problem
By Joshua L. Gleis
(Jerusalem Post, May 31, 2007) More than 50 people have been killed -- the civilian death toll is unknown -- as Lebanese Army forces battle Islamists in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr el-Bared, located just outside of Tripoli.
The event that set off the shooting began last Sunday, after security forces raided a building to arrest suspects in a bank robbery. The suspects were associated with the same Fatah al-Islam elements apparently involved in the bombing of two passenger buses last month filled with Lebanese Christians.
The resemblance of the Lebanese chain of events to Israel's April 2002 assault on the Jenin refugee camp as part of Operation Defensive Shield is striking. Israel launched its attack after sustaining seven suicide bombings in a two-week period, culminating in the bombing of the Park Hotel in Netanya on Seder night, which killed 30 civilians.
Following Operation Defensive Shield in Jenin, Palestinians, Arab League, United Nations and human rights organizations all called for investigations into the Israeli operation, initially dubbed a "massacre" by Arab leaders and the news media. The IDF operation resulted in the deaths of 52 Palestinians and 23 Israeli soldiers.
Depending on which report you believe (Human Rights Watch's or the IDF's), anywhere between 30 to 38 of the Palestinians killed were gunmen.
Still, protests were sent to the UN Security Council, and inquiries were conducted by the UN, journalists and human rights organizations. All admitted that no massacre had taken place; however Human Rights Watch and others did claim that Israel had violated international law.
CURIOUSLY, similar calls by the world community for investigations into the recent fighting in Lebanon are absent. Missing are the cries of the Arab world for an investigation into the deaths of innocent Palestinians. Gone are the demands by human rights organizations to access the area and scrutinize the actions of the Lebanese Army vis-a-vis the Palestinians.
The UN has not been called upon to examine the operation, and some Western newspapers even took the bold step of calling the Fatah al-Islam "terrorist" -- a word absent in describing attacks against Israelis.
Plainly, while it is acceptable for Lebanese to deal with the Palestinians as they see fit, it is not okay for the Israelis to defend themselves from Palestinian violence.
Granted, the Palestinians are the most oppressed people in the Arab world: They are denied citizenship by most of their Arab host countries, restricted from jobs and educational opportunities, and deported from countries at the whim of security officials. At the same time, contributions from the Arab world to Palestinian "resistance" organizations continue, as Israeli-Palestinian violence is played out on Arab television on a daily basis.
The only time the world seems to care about the Palestinian Arabs is when they are suffering at the hands of Israelis. Amnesty International has issued more reports on Israel than the Sudan. The hypocrisy is astonishing.
So this begs the question: With regard to the most recent military activity in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr el-Bared in Lebanon, where are the cries of "massacre"?
The writer is a research fellow at the Belfer Center at Harvard University, and a Ph.D candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
Twist of history finds Palestinian refugees fleeing back to Shatilla
By JACEY HERMAN
(Jerusalem Post, June 8, 2007) Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon say they fear they're the target of a Beirut government-sponsored plan to get rid of them.
Behind the bricked walls and tiny alleyways of Shatilla refugee camp in central Beirut, they whisper in hushed tones about the violence of the past fortnight. At least 114 people, including 46 Lebanese soldiers, have been killed in clashes between the army and militants of a previously little-known extremist group, Fatah al-Islam.
"The army's trying to kill as many Palestinians as possible," says 82-year-old Wafa al-Shami, who had left Shatilla in 1982 after the massacre by Christian Phalangists that killed her brother and his family. She settled in the northern coastal camp of Nahr el-Bared, only to return now.
"We're in the way," Shami says. "If Lebanon wants a peace process with Israel, they need to get rid of us refugees. The government doesn't want to give us Lebanese identity, and Israel will never accept the 'right of return,' so the solution for the Lebanese is to kill as many Palestinians as possible and scatter us all over the world. They want us to forget our identity."
But this is something neither she nor the more than 400,000 Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon will ever do. Without a house -- Shami saw hers blown up on television -- and only a small suitcase containing her clothes, medicine and bed sheets, she's desperately anxious about what the future in an all-too-familiar saga holds.
Shami, originally from Acre, moved with her four sons, their wives and children into the two-bedroom apartment of her niece in the center of Shatilla.
Outside, precariously balanced cables run between several multistory apartments. Some of the illegal electricity transformers block out the harsh Lebanese sunlight.
The camp's cobbled streets are awash with knocked over garbage cans and dirty water. Open gutters line the main road on which horse-pulled carts maneuver through late-afternoon traffic.
"This is not a Lebanese-Palestinian problem," Shami's grandson, Mahmoud, says. The family is sitting on mattresses and sipping black Arabic coffee. A huge poster of the late Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin hangs on one of the walls.
"Fatah al-Islam is not a Palestinian group," Mahmoud says. "They are being sponsored by outside groups -- the Syrians, the Saudi prince, the Lebanese government -- to build racism against the Palestinian people.... Now all Palestinians here are being treated as terrorists. For the first time in my life I am being stopped in the street and searched. This has never happened to me before."
More than 300 families from Nahr el-Bared, the scene of the recent violence, have moved into already overcrowded Shatilla. Living with friends and family, most of them have nothing to go back to. There are fears the fighting could spread.
Nearly half a million Palestinians live in a dozen refugee camps across Lebanon. Denied civil rights [including Lebanese citizenship], the refugees suffer the harshest conditions of Palestinian refugees anywhere, including being prevented from working in about 75 professions.
The Lebanese government justifies its position by arguing that if it normalized conditions for the refugees, they would be less intent on returning to what is today Israel.
Muhammad al-Mahmoud is a university student who has temporarily given up his studies to help distribute food, clothing and cleaning materials to the latest influx of refugees in Shatilla. A recreation center in the camp has been turned into a warehouse where rolls of toilet paper, medicines and baby diapers are piled up.
"It is a massacre that is going on," he says. "The media is not showing it, but we know that more than 200 civilians -- all of them Palestinian -- have been killed. People here don't care for the causes, we care only for the results."
The results are an urgent appeal from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for $12.7 million in assistance.
The organization estimates that some 27,000 of Nahr el-Bared's 40,000 residents have fled. Most are now in the neighboring camp of Beddawi. But as conditions there worsen, more are expected to move southwards to camps like Shatilla and Sabra.
The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has tried to distance itself from Fatah al-Islam, which sided with the Lebanese authorities after it was kicked out of Sabra and Shatilla by the PLO in the 1970s.
In a speech this week, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said the militants had "nothing to do with the Palestinian struggle" and endangered the lives of innocent Palestinians.
The PLO representative in Lebanon, Abbas Zaki, has called for Palestinians in Lebanon to be allowed to set up their own security force in the camps to prevent the formation of armed gangs. After briefing Abbas on the situation, Zaki said he believed the fighting in Nahr el-Bared was in its final stages. He said the militants were asking to be allowed to stay in the camp or given asylum in another country -- neither of which he believed should be granted.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
'Only the reckless still drive here'
By JACEY HERMAN, Special to The Jerusalem Post
(Jerusalem Post, June 11, 2007) Plumes of smoke spiral into the sky from the side of the highway that links Tripoli, Lebanon's second largest city, to the rest of the country. Where the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared once stood, just north of the city, only the burned-out shells of buildings remain.
The driver steps hard on the accelerator as the sound of cannon fire explodes overhead. We pull up alongside a closed restaurant and jump out of the car, taking shelter with a family of Palestinian refugees standing with their backs against a dark brick wall.
Behind us, the last remaining snipers from Fatah al-Islam take aim across the empty highway, while to the front, staring down from the hilltops, are Lebanese tanks responding with cannons.
Usually at this time of day the four lane road is filled with traffic in both directions, but for more than a fortnight only the reckless or desperate have driven here. The army says there is only a handful of gunmen still left in the camp, but the standoff could well continue for a while, as Fatah al-Islam vows to fight to the death.
An estimated 16 gunmen were killed over the weekend, while the army is reporting no new casualties in its ranks. A brief lull in fighting during Friday prayers allowed the International Committee of the Red Cross to ferry out 85 camp residents, mostly women, children, the elderly and the infirm. Water, cans of tuna and ready-to-eat meals were sent in.
An estimated 3,000 people are still inside, too scared to leave, or perhaps afraid that if they abandon their homes the Lebanese army will bulldoze the camp.
It's dangerous and scary here. It's easy to get hit in the crossfire. Journalists are barred from entering Nahr al-Bared.
Five kilometers down the road, more than 30,000 refugees have found temporary relief in another Palestinian refugee camp, Beddawi.
Already overcrowded and without adequate access to clean running water and sanitation, things have deteriorated with the influx of newcomers.
Mahmoud al-Makdah is one of many without relatives or friends in Beddawi with whom he can move in, and who has therefore been forced to take refuge in an UNRWA elementary school. He, his wife, eight children and mother-in-law share a classroom with two other families. A sheet separates the sleeping quarters of each. Mattresses line the floor, and aside from a few blankets and a dirty blackboard, the classroom is bare.
"I came here with my family because it's too dangerous to stay in Nahr al-Bared," he tells me in clear, defiant English.
"We don't fight. Our people are not enemy for army Lebanon. But how can we continue to live here in this school? There is not enough space, there are 60 people living in each classroom. Can you imagine how we sleep, how we breathe?"
Some 5,000 people are living in the school.
"[Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad] Saniora says after [the] war is finished, everyone will go back to his house. Saniora promised us he would rebuild our camp. But I don't know what will happen after the war. If we go or if we don't go, we don't know."
The question of where to resettle these people is on the backburner. For now, nongovernmental organizations are working around the clock feeding and housing the thousands. Supplies have reached the camp from all over Beirut and the situation has stabilized.
Meanwhile, a captured Fatah al-Islam gunmen confessed to Lebanese authorities that the group was planning to attack United Nations officials and foreign diplomatic services. The confession has again raised questions about who is sponsoring the group and what their goals are. Both Hamas and Fatah leaders in Beddawi camp said they had nothing to do with Fatah al-Islam. A Fatah representative went as far as to complain that the group stole the "Fatah" name to create problems between Palestinians and Lebanese.
A political analyst who spoke to The Jerusalem Post said there was still a huge supply of weapons and ammunition inside Nahr al-Bared. The fighting could go on for weeks, he said.
"It can still spill over into other camps. It depends whether or not the Lebanese army is able to contain the situation. There are a lot of terrorists inside the Palestinian camps. It is easy to enter Lebanon because we are a state without borders. I believe Fatah al-Islam is supported by al-Qaida with the backing of Syria. But I don't think this latest round of violence will lead to civil war because Hizbullah is not involved -- it's not in their interest to become involved -- and without Hizbullah, the violence is only affecting a minority of people."
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: Ominously, although the Lebanese army has officially redefined the battered remnants of Nahr el-Bared’s civilian population as enemy combatants in order to justify massacring them without further ado, no component of the international “human rights” community -- let alone the United Nations -- has condemned this particularly heinous War Crime. Even the Palestine Liberation Organization has publicly announced its support for the depredations of the Lebanese army against the former and present “Palestinian” residents of this Apartheid town! Moreover, Lebanon’s numerous Apartheid restrictions against its “Palestinians” continue apace. And, despite all of the foregoing, the “Palestinian” victims of Apartheid Lebanon continue to blame Israel for their travails, and they continue to pray for the Jewish State’s annihilation. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
All available means
By MALCOLM GUNN
(Jerusalem Post, July 2, 2007) On May 22, a young carpenter called Mohammed al-Saaid fled from Nahr el-Bared, the Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon where the Lebanese military are currently fighting the Islamist terrorist group Fatah al-Islam.
He left with nothing but the clothes he was wearing. "I had to leave at night," he says. "It was dangerous in the day because there were still some shots being fired."
He does not support Fatah al-Islam, but he is angry at the Lebanese army for the way in which they are conducting the war. "They are firing artillery randomly, even hitting mosques," he says. "The day before I left, they destroyed my neighbor's house, and now since I have gone, I was told by phone that they have also destroyed mine." Current estimates put the total destruction at around 60 percent of the town.
Furthermore, the army has now announced that any civilian left inside will be considered a combatant because they did not take the opportunity to flee during the cease-fire.
It is true that, given the difficult circumstances of fighting a street war in unknown territory, the army has a case for using artillery to protect the lives of its soldiers; yet their uncompromising tactics have raised concerns and suspicions from various quarters.
Christians and Shi'ites are worried that the Sunni-dominated government wants to naturalize the camp's inhabitants into Lebanese society and President Emile Lahoud suggested recently that the government was purposely razing the town "as part of a plot that aims to settle Palestinian refugees in Lebanon." As a Christian Maronite, he fears the greater voting power that a naturalized Palestinian minority of 400,000 people would give to the Sunni bloc.
Dr. Hilal Khasham, the director of Political Sciences at the American University of Beirut, characterizes Lahoud's view as slightly paranoid. He argues that "due to the multi-confessional make-up of the country's electoral system, in which each religious sect has its specific allotment of power, nobody wants a naturalized Palestinian minority. Even the Sunnis fear that they would steal their slice of the electoral cake."
Most of the 30,000 refugees who have fled are now living in the Beddawi camp, which lies on the outskirts of Tripoli. They are being housed temporarily in any spare space that can be found. "Every single household is putting up at least one guest," says Ali Abdul, an UNRWA employee there. The camp is so crowded, it is hard to drive up the main street to the UNRWA school, where al-Saaid has been sleeping on a classroom floor.
Like many of his neighbors, al-Saaid believes that the government is trying to demolish a trouble-spot camp to reduce the number of refugees in the country.
This would be in keeping with previous government policies. Al-Saaid recalls how after the Nabatiyeh refugee camp was destroyed during the civil war, its inhabitants were dispersed among the other already-overcrowded camps, mainly Ein el-Hilweh on the outskirts of Sidon, or given visas to go abroad.
The government has long followed discriminatory policies toward the Palestinians, which Khasham says are meant to keep them poor and confined to their camps. A report recently published by the UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] entitled "Employability of Palestinians in Lebanon" demonstrated how this policy works: "Palestinians do not have social and civil rights, and have very limited access to the government's public health or educational facilities and no access to public social services. Considered as foreigners, Palestine refugees are prohibited by law from working in more than 70 trades and professions. This has led to a very high rate of unemployment amongst the refugee population."
Worryingly, the UNRWA report warns that "the newly-emergent and fragile sovereignty of post-war Lebanon has seen a hardening of attitudes towards the refugees and foreign workers."
Meanwhile, a comparative study conducted by Marwan Khawaja of AUB [American University of Beirut] showed that Palestinian workers in three impoverished areas are paid an average of 80% of the wages their Lebanese peers with the same qualifications receive when performing similar jobs.
THE BURJ Barajneh and Shatilla camps, which lie on the southern outskirts of Beirut, are poor and overcrowded slums. In Burj Barajneh, 17,000 people inhabit an area of 1.5 sq. km. -- most of which is illegally-occupied Lebanese land.
Many of the buildings which rise up above the narrow streets are crumbling and falling into disrepair. Even more are scattered with bullet holes from the various battles the PLO fought with Lebanese armed groups during the civil war.
Baha'a Hassoun, the UNRWA camp service officer, says the government regularly cuts off electricity, has not provided clean drinking water since 1985 and often stops supplies from entering the camps. In 1992, the Lebanese government passed a law banning Palestinians from buying property outside the camps.
Doctors at the UNRWA health clinic say that levels of depression are unusually high and that many people suffer from respiratory tract infections, which they suspect are due to impurities in the water.
Yosef Bader, the head of the Popular Committee in the camp, sums up the situation with the gloomy assessment that "nobody treats the Palestinians like human beings, not even the Lebanese."
According to Rosemary Sayigh, author of Too Many Enemies: Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon, the principal root of the discrimination was Lebanon's sectarian regime, set up to maintain Maronite political domination and threatened by high rates of Maronite emigration, higher Muslim birthrates and the country's pro-Western foreign policy orientation.
"Official discrimination against the refugees has been supported by large sectors of Lebanese society since somewhat before the Israel invasion of 1982 -- as a result of Israeli aggression, but also PLO mistakes in the South. The main motive behind post-1982 government discriminatory measures has been to reduce the number of refugees. Their resettlement in Lebanon was excluded by the Ta'ef pact that ended the civil war."
However, aside from the political discrimination, Khasham says that the army's actions reflect a racism that pervades Lebanese society. "There is only one thing that unites the Lebanese; that is their hatred for the Palestinians. Because of the parochial nature of our society, people look down upon newcomers -- and especially the Palestinians -- because of their inferior status as refugees."
THIS SEPTEMBER marks the 25th anniversary of a civil war atrocity which still scars the Palestinian consciousness. In the Sabra and Shatilla massacre, as many as 3,000 Palestinians were slaughtered by Bashir Gemayel's Christian Phalangist group.
Mohammed was a young man when the Phalangists entered with the apparent intention of routing out PLO terrorists and ammunition. "I did not realize that the massacre had happened until it was over," he said. "It was only when I came outside afterwards that I saw how they had killed my neighbor's wife and children."
Munir Marouf, the UNRWA camp service officer at Shatilla, explains that the [Lebanese Christian] Phalangists mainly killed their victims using knives so that the majority of residents were unaware of what was going on until it was too late. "It was a revenge attack because they [the Phalangists] believed that Palestinian terrorists were behind the assassination of Gemayel."
It is clear that the war at Nahr el-Bared does not fall into the category of atrocity that the Shatilla massacre does. However, Human Rights Watch has issued a report cataloguing a series of complaints from Palestinians fleeing the camp of beatings by the army.
In one case, the Lebanese military reportedly detained a 21-year-old Palestinian man for interrogation at different locations for four days. During the interrogations, he was at various times punched and slapped by army interrogators. "They put me back in a cell, and I slept blindfolded with my hands tied. I heard screams from other rooms: 'My arm! My hand!'" In another case, the army interrogated three young Palestinian men in a private house near Nahr el-Bared. According to two of the young men, members of Lebanese military intelligence subjected them to kicks, punches and beatings with rifle
"They beat me with their hands, feet and even their weapons, on the arms, hands, back and even my face and legs. It lasted, on and off, for about three hours. They threatened me with a knife that they would cut off my toes if I didn't speak," he said.
GIVEN THE circumstances, one would have expected the siege of Nahr el-Bared to have ignited an angry response from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). However, Fatah has publicly distanced itself from Fatah al-Islam and sided with the Lebanese army. After Prime Minister Fuad Saniora met with the Palestinian Follow-Up Committee, PLO representative in Beirut Abbas Zaki told the Daily Star, "We stressed ... that [Fatah al-Islam] has nothing to do with the Palestinian people, and anyone who sees it as being under Palestinian cover is mistaken, because we were alongside the army in this battle from the start. We were both the victims."
There was not even any complaint from them when the[Lebanese] army broke the 1969 agreement that forbids them to enter any [“Palestinian”] refugee camp.
According to Sayigh, "Their support for the army tries to protect camp inhabitants from those Lebanese who identify them with the extremist Islamic groups. The current battles have brought Lebanese anti-Palestinianism to the surface again."
However, it is also clear that the PLO has been silent because it is too weak to stand up against the government. The organization has never really recovered from the joint Israeli-Christian Lebanese offensive of 1982, when 8,800 PLO guerrillas -- including former PLO leader Yasser Arafat and the whole Fatah hierarchy -- were removed from the country. Since then, the Lebanese government has tried to stifle their power, since as the representative force of the Palestinians, they have the greatest ability to push for more rights.
"Now they are a defeated organization who have no hope of coordinating a successful resistance," says Khasham. "They are surrounded by the Lebanese military, their land is not contiguous like in Gaza, and they are simply too poor to afford a war." In fact, the PLO is so weak that many people suspect it is supporting the army in hopes of eliminating an emergent Islamist faction that would naturally oppose the group.
Sayigh points out that "Fatah al-Islam was heavily armed from the start, and it would have been difficult, if not impossible, for the PLO to have 'controlled' them."
In Beddawi, al-Saaid says the PLO felt threatened by the existence of Fatah al-Islam but was unable to deal with the insurgents on its own, so it was glad to have the army rid the place of them.
What no one knows is how Fatah al-Islam gunmen were able to enter Nahr el-Bared in large numbers with their families and with heavy weapons.
The current war has demonstrated that for the Lebanese government to purposefully keep the Palestinians poor and the PLO -- their overarching authority -- weak is a risky strategy.
THERE IS overwhelming support for armed resistance within the Burj Barajneh camp -- the place is bedecked with posters of gunmen and banners honoring the likes of [the late Iraqi dictator] Saddam Hussein, [the late Hamas leader] Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and [the late successor Hamas leader] Abdel Rantisi -- and it is clear that the social degradation plays some part in this.
Currently, however, the intended violence is almost exclusively aimed
against Israel, the occupiers of their "real" home.
One old man I meet tells me that he fled here during the war in 1948.
He says that life has only become worse in the camp, but he shrugs and says that it is not their home, anyway. Even though he believes he will never return to Palestine, he says the urge is just as strong in the younger generations.
He is not exaggerating. A group of young girls say that "God willing, Israel will be destroyed!" and that if they ever lived in the same country as Israelis, they "would drive them out."
In fact, the feeling that Israel is to blame for all their woes, and people's blindness to their conflict with Lebanese factions, are occasionally perverse. Bader tells me that a bullet-riddled wall opposite the Popular Committee's offices has been left standing as a testament to Israeli oppression.
Yet these were not bullets fired by the IDF, since in 1982 Ariel Sharon kept the army out of Beirut as far as Burj Barajneh. It is most likely that they were fired by members of the Shi'ite Amal armed group in the War of the Camps in 1986, when large parts of both Burj Barajneh and Shatilla were destroyed.
The Lebanese government can take partial credit for the prevalence of this attitude. They have continually championed the Palestinian "right of return," successfully masking self-interest as a pan-Arabic moral crusade. In the first week of the war, when the camp was being bombarded with artillery, Saniora gave an emotional speech in which he talked about standing "side by side with our Palestinian brothers."
However, the rise of Islamist groups shows how these discriminatory policies can suddenly backfire. Fatah al-Islam has proved that without much difficulty, a well-equipped armed group can infiltrate a refugee camp and leave the PLO fairly powerless to deal with them. As extremism becomes less secular and ever more centered against Western influence, Saniora's government is now realizing that it, too, has become a target.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
Where’s the international outcry against Arab apartheid?
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
(Jerusalem Post, March 17, 2011) Mohammed Nabil Taha, an 11-year-old Palestinian boy, died this week at the entrance to a Lebanese hospital after doctors refused to help him because his family could not afford to pay for medical treatment.
Taha’s tragic case highlights the plight of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who live in squalid refugee camps in Lebanon and who are the victims of an apartheid system that denies them access to work, education and medical care.
Ironically, the boy’s death at the entrance to the hospital coincided with Israeli Apartheid Week, a festival of hatred and incitement organized by anti-Israel activists on university campuses in the US, Canada and other countries.
It is highly unlikely that the folks behind the festival have heard about Taha. Judging from past experiences, it is also highly unlikely that they would publicize the case even if they would hear about it.
Why should anyone care about a Palestinian boy who is denied medical treatment by an Arab hospital? The story has no anti-Israel angle to it.
Can anyone imagine what would have happened if an Israeli hospital had abandoned a boy to die in its parking lot because his father did not have $1,500 to pay for his treatment? The UN Security Council would hold an emergency session and Israel would be strongly condemned and held responsible for the boy’s death.
All this is happening at a time when tens of thousands of Palestinian patients continue to benefit from treatment in Israeli hospitals.
Last year alone, some 180,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip entered Israel to receive medical treatment. Many were treated despite the fact that they did not have enough money to cover the bill.
In Israel, even a suicide bomber who is only (!) wounded while trying to kill Jews is entitled to the finest medical treatment. And there have been many instances where Palestinians who were wounded in attacks on Israel later ended up in some of Israel’s best hospitals.
Lebanon, by the way, is not the only Arab country that officially applies apartheid laws against Palestinians, denying them proper medical treatment and the right to own property.
Just last week it was announced that a medical center in Jordan has decided to stop treating Palestinian cancer patients because the Palestinian Authority has failed to pay its debts to the center.
Other Arab countries have also been giving the Palestinians a very hard time when it comes to receiving medical treatment.
It is disgraceful that while Israel admits Palestinian patients to its hospitals, Arab hospitals are denying them medical treatment for various reasons, including money. But then one is reminded that Arab dictators do not care about their own people, so why should they pay attention to an 11-year-old boy who is dying at the entrance to a hospital because his father didn’t have $1,500 handy? But as the death took place in an Arab country – and as the victim is an Arab -- why should anyone care about him? Where is the outcry against Arab apartheid?
(©) The Jerusalem Post
The Palestinians: Who Really Cares?
by Bassam Tawil February 1, 2019 at 5:00 am
A Palestinian who tries to bring a bag of cement or other construction materials into a refugee camp to build a house is subjected to arrest, interrogation, trial by military court and a fine.
Is this happening in the Gaza Strip? No. Is it happening in the West Bank? No. This inhumane and unjust practice is taking place in an Arab country where more than 500,00 Palestinians live: Lebanon.
Moreover, this ban on the entry of construction material is punishing not only the living, but also the dead. Palestinians say that because of the prohibition, they cannot even find enough stones and cement to build graves.
The wretched condition of the Palestinians living in Lebanon is often ignored by both the international community and the Western main stream media. The only Palestinians the international community seems to care about are those residing in the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- those whose grievances can be blamed on Israel.
Most of the Palestinians in Lebanon live in 12 refugee camps, where they suffer from poverty, overcrowding and violence, as well as Lebanon's discriminatory and apartheid laws and measures that deny them basic rights.
The Lebanese authorities claim that the ban on the entry of building materials into the camps is designed to guarantee the Palestinians' "right of return" to their former villages and towns inside Israel. The Lebanese authorities tell the Palestinians, "We do not want you to build new homes in our country: that would compromise your [purported] right of return!"
The Lebanese authorities know full well that Israel will never allow hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to move to Israel as part of a "right of return." For Israel, that would mean that Jews would become a minority in their own country, and that there would then be three Palestinian states: Gaza, Israel and the West Bank.
This minor detail, however, has not stopped Lebanon and other Arab countries that play host to Palestinian refugees and their descendants from continuing to lie to them and feeding them false hopes that one day they will go back to the homes of their fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers in Israel.
The prohibition of construction material for Palestinians in Lebanon is only one example of the discrimination they have been facing in this Arab country for the past few decades.
Palestinians in Lebanon are also banned by law from working in selected professions, including medicine, engineering, nursing, accounting, pharmaceuticals and teaching. In Lebanon, Palestinians are considered foreigners and are consequently barred from owning, selling or bequeathing property.
Housing renovations inside Palestinian camps require prior permission from the Lebanese security authorities due to concerns that the material may be used for military purposes. If the permit is granted, the army usually imposes tight measures, such as counting the number of cement bags or checking the quantity of stones that the Palestinian wishes to bring into the camp.
A Palestinian who is caught smuggling construction material into a camp is arrested, interrogated and faces a fine of 100,000 Lebanese pounds ($66).
According to a recent report in the Palestinian Information Center, the ban on the entry of construction material has been in effect for the past 22 years. "This is an inhumane measure," the report said. In 2004, according to the report, the ban was temporarily lifted for a few months before it was reinstated and expanded to additional Palestinian communities in Lebanon.
In addition to cement, the Palestinians are also banned from bringing into their camps water pipes, electrical wires, aluminum, doors, tiles, windows and glass slabs and paint.
In the past two years, the Lebanese authorities began building a concrete wall with watch towers around two Palestinian camps: Ain al-Hilweh and Rashidiyeh. The Lebanese authorities have justified building the wall for security reasons and presumably to prevent the expansion of the Palestinian camps. Palestinians referto these walls, which have turned their compass into closed ghettos, as the "walls of shame."
Jamal Khatib, secretary-general of the Islamic Factions in Ain al-Hilweh, called on the Lebanese authorities to lift the ban. "Some of the houses have collapsed, and injured women and children," he said.
Mohammed al-Shuli, a Palestinian human rights activist, said that the ban on the entry of construction material has become a "nightmare" for all refugees.
Recently, Palestinians in Ain al-Hilweh were forced to remove stones from their houses to build a grave for a deceased resident, Khaled Zaiter. The man's body was held in a morgue for several days before the camp residents managed to take enough stones from their own homes to build a grave for him.
"Burying a dead Palestinian in Ain al-Hilweh camp has become a painful and traumatic experience," said Abdel Raheem Maqdah, a Palestinian community leader in Lebanon.
Protests by the Palestinians in Lebanon are unlikely to draw any attention from the international community, including so-called pro-Palestinian groups that are active especially on university campuses in the US and Canada, among other places.
The real "pro-Palestinian" groups are those who are willing to raise their voices against the mistreatment of Palestinians at the hands of their Arab brothers. The real "pro-Palestinian" groups are those who are prepared to defend the rights of women and gays living under Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The real "pro-Palestinian" groups are those that are prepared to advocate for democracy and free speech for Palestinians living under the repressive regimes of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The real "pro-Palestinian" groups are those who are prepared to condemn Lebanon for its racist and discriminatory measures against Palestinians, living and dead.
Hiding at a university campus and spewing hatred against Israel does not make one "pro-Palestinian." Rather, it makes one an Israel-hater. Will the "pro-Palestinian" groups listen to the SOS messages coming from the people they claim to represent in Lebanon? Probably not. In all probability, they will just continue pushing their anti-Israel agenda as Palestinians in Lebanon continue to cut stones from their own homes to build graves for their dear ones.
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.
Palestinians condemn crackdown on 'illegal workers' in Lebanon
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Nearly 500,000 Palestinian refugees affected by campaign targeting 1.5 million displaced Syrians
(Jerusalem Post, July 16, 2019) Palestinians denounced a campaign by Lebanon’s Labor Ministry cracking down on illegal foreign workers in the country.
Residents of al-Rashidiya refugee camp near Tyre in southern Lebanon burned tires and blocked the entrances to the camp on Monday to protest the crackdown on illegal foreign workers. The protesters announced they will not allow Lebanese goods to enter al-Rashidiya, one of 12 UNRWA-run camps in the country.
The campaign is part of a plan to crackdown on illegal foreign workers in Lebanon. Several businesses that hired illegal workers were closed down and more than 150 people were detained, the Lebanese ministry said in a statement.
“Lebanon is suffering from a sharp crisis because of illegal foreign workers, especially illegal Syrian labor,” the statement said. Lebanese authorities estimate that 1.5 million Syrians have fled to Lebanon since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011.
“The number of refugees in Lebanon is close to one-third of the Lebanese population, and hundreds of thousands of the refugees are competing with Lebanese citizens in various fields,” the ministry said. “Their work is no longer limited to agriculture and construction. They have moved their companies and enterprises to Lebanon, and have opened thousands of illegal businesses. This is an equation that no country in the world can tolerate.”
The campaign, however, has also targeted thousands of Palestinians involved with the illegal businesses.
On Monday, Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah in charge of the Palestinian portfolio in Lebanon, contacted several Lebanese officials and expressed his concern over the crackdown.
Ahmed complained that many Palestinians have lost their jobs as a result of the campaign.
The measures taken by the Lebanese authorities, he said, endanger efforts by the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee to regulate the status and rights of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. According to UNRWA, there were 450,000 Palestinians in Lebanon in 2014.
“These measures also contradict international laws and conventions regarding refugees’ rights,” the Palestinian official added. “The measures don’t serve the joint goal of facing US-backed Israeli policy of resettlement and displacement” of Palestinian refugees.
Several Palestinian factions in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Lebanon condemned the campaign against illegal workers, saying it contradicted Lebanon’s official support for the rights of the Palestinians.
The factions warned that the crackdown would deny thousands of Palestinians in Lebanon their livelihood and aggravate their suffering. According to the factions, the Lebanese measures will also undermine efforts to foil US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan. The Palestinians claim that the “Deal of the Century” includes resettling Palestinian refugees in Arab countries.
PA Ambassador to Lebanon Ashraf Dabour expressed concern over the campaign against illegal workers, and urged the Lebanese authorities to exclude Palestinians from the crackdown.
Some Palestinian businessmen and workers were quoted in Lebanese media as saying that they prefer to die than lose their sole source of income.
“I’m not going to close my business, and I will fight back,” said one businessman. Others threatened to set themselves on fire if the campaign continued, saying they will not succumb to “humiliation.”
Hamas also came out against the Lebanese campaign, dubbing it a “policy of slow death” for Palestinians in Lebanon. Calling for an immediate end to the campaign, Hamas said it does not serve Lebanese-Palestinian relations and dialogue.
The more than 450,000 Palestinians living in Lebanon are denied Lebanese citizenship, and are legally barred from owning property or working in dozens of professions.
Copyright © 2019 Jpost Inc. All rights reserved
[Note: The World doesn’t seem the least bit disturbed by the fact that Egyptian border police have bloodied 90 “Palestinian” Arabs using tear gas, clubs, water cannons and live ammunition. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
90 wounded by Egyptians near Gaza
Khaled Abu Toameh, THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 22, 2008
Egypt delivered a strong warning to Gaza's Hamas government on Tuesday after thousands of Palestinians stormed the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing.
At least 90 Gazans, most of them women, were wounded by Egyptian border guards using tear gas, clubs, water cannons and live ammunition to disperse the demonstrators, who were protesting against the continued closure of the border crossing.
One Egyptian policeman was wounded in the clashes, the worst since Hamas took full control of the Gaza Strip in June.
"The Egyptian government has delivered a strong warning to Hamas following the incident," an Egyptian diplomat told The Jerusalem Post. "We hold the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip responsible for the riots that occurred along our border today."
The clashes erupted after the demonstrators stormed through the border terminal, chanting slogans against President Hosni Mubarak and other Arab leaders.
Huda Naim, a Hamas legislator who participated in the protest, accused the Egyptian border guards of unleashing dogs against the demonstrators.
She said that some of the women who managed to cross into Egypt were refusing to return home until Egypt reopened the terminal.
"The Egyptians are participating in the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip," Naim said. "We appeal to President Hosni Mubarak to open the border so that patients can go to hospitals in Egypt and other Arab countries."
Hamas officials expressed deep disappointment over Egypt's refusal to help the people living in the Gaza Strip.
One official said it was "disgraceful" that the Egyptian authorities were banning Palestinians from traveling to Egypt for medical treatment.
"In the morning, we heard that the Egyptians were sending reinforcements to the border with the Gaza Strip," he said. "We thought the reinforcements were intended to help the Palestinians, who have been without water, electricity and medicine. But it later turned out that Mubarak sent his troops to beat women who were staging a peaceful demonstration."
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said his movement was planning similar protests in the coming days despite warnings from the Egyptian authorities.
"The crisis in the Gaza Strip won't be solved with additional fuel," he said. "The problem is that 1.5 million Palestinians are living in a big prison. Our goal is to end the siege and reopen all the border crossings so that our people can breath."
Copyright 1995 - 2008 The Jerusalem Post
[Note: Egypt is treating hundreds of illegal “Palestinian” sojourners as if they are unclean animals; but the World does not seem to care. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
MAAN NEWS AGENCY
Gazans held in Egypt threaten self-immolation
Date: 10 / 02 / 2008 [February 10, 2008] Time: 15:07
Gaza – Ma'an – Palestinians from the Gaza Strip detained in the Egyptian city of Al-Arish are threatening to set themselves on fire if they are not allowed to return to Gaza by 3pm Sunday afternoon.
Egyptian police are detaining about 500 Palestinians in a sports club in Al-Arish. Several of the detainees called Ma'an to explain their plight.
They are also threatening set fire to the building if they are not set free.
One of the callers, a resident of Al-Bureij refugee camp, said that the situation in the building is miserable, lacking medical care and other basic needs. He said that 10 of the detainees fainted but did not receive medical attention.
Another caller named Ubayda Al-Baghdadi said: "I have been detained in the sports club for five days, and others have been detained for ten days without even water for drinking. Gaza Strip residents who remained in Egypt after the border walls have been sealed are being gathered every day in the sports club or in schools in Al-Arish and Rafah in Egypt under strict security measures. Egyptian security accompanies every one even when they go to the rest rooms."
The Egyptian border has been calm since security forces retook control of the border, closing gaps with barbed wire last Sunday. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians burst through the walls in January , desperate to buy supplies made scarce by Israel's siege of the Gaza Strip.
Some Palestinians, like the ones currently held in Al-Arish, stayed in Egypt illegally after the border was closed.
Egyptian security forces have also deployed on roofs buildings at the Egyptian side in order to monitor the border through telescopes.
[Note: The Maan News Agency is a “Palestinian” news network based in Bethlehem and funded by the Netherlands and Denmark.]
[Note: Egypt is able to torture “Palestinian” detainees without incurring any international criticism. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Gazans speak of torture by Egyptians
By Khaled Abu Toameh
(Jerusalem Post, April 7, 2008) Several Gazans who were recently released from Egyptian prison said they were "brutally tortured" during interrogations.
According to the Palestinians, who returned to the Gaza Strip last week, the torture methods included severe beatings, stripping naked, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, electric shocks, whippings and verbal abuse.
The Gazans, who were suspected of membership in Hamas, entered Egypt during the 12 days after thousands of Palestinians knocked down the border fence on January 23.
They were detained without trial and without the possibility of seeing a lawyer or family members.
Sources in the Gaza Strip said at least 50 Palestinians had been held by Egypt since the border was breached.
Under pressure from Hamas, the Egyptian authorities last week released nearly half of the detainees, who were allowed to cross back into Gaza.
Some of the detainees told reporters in the Strip on Sunday that the Egyptians never told them the nature of the charges against them.
"When they arrested us, they told us we would be released within hours," said one former detainee. "They didn't tell us anything about the charges against us. The next thing we found ourselves moved to torture centers belonging to the Egyptian mukhabarat [General Intelligence]."
Another former detainee said the Egyptian interrogators were "harsh and violent" from the beginning. He said he and his friends were interrogated about the general situation in the Gaza Strip and the whereabouts of top Hamas figures.
"They wanted information about the movements of Muhammad Deif and Ahmed Ja'abari [the heads of Hamas's armed wing, Izaddin al-Kassam]," he said. "They also wanted to know where [Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh] hides when Israel attacks the Gaza Strip."
He added that the Egyptians also sought information about the several armed groups in Gaza and their relationships with Hamas.
Another man who was released from prison said the Egyptians asked him a lot of questions about kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit.
"They wanted to know where he's being held and the identity of his captors," he said. "We found it strange that the Egyptians were asking questions that you would expect to hear from Israeli interrogators."
The former detainees called on the Egyptian people and parliament to condemn their authorities for torturing Palestinians. They expressed shock at the "inhumane and brutal" torture by the Egyptian security personnel.
"We had to deal with people who specialize in various forms of torture," said one former prisoner. "They treated us like animals.
"We were allowed to go to the bathroom only twice a day and only when accompanied by a police officer. The food they gave us is not good even for animals. We never expected such treatment from our Arab brothers."
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: Egypt is able to shoot “Palestinian” fishermen without international criticism. Read on!]
Egyptian forces shoot at Palestinian fishermen
Published yesterday (updated) 31/08/2013 [August 31, 2013] 21:50
GAZA CITY (Ma'an News Agency) -- Egyptian naval forces on Friday shot two Palestinian fishermen near the Egypt-Gaza border and detained five others, Palestinian sources in Gaza said.
Egyptian forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats, injuring 19-year-old Ibrahim Abdullah al-Najjar and 21-year-old Wael al-Bardawil. They were taken to the Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital in the Palestinian side of Rafah.
Egyptian forces detained Khalid Basla, Mahmud Basla, Maher Basla, Jamal Khaled Abu Shlouf, and Ismael Basla.
The fishermen are from the the al-Mawasi area of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.
All Rights Reserved © Ma'an News Agency 2005 - 2013
[Note: Syria is able to attack the “Palestinian” neighborhoods of Latakia with tank, naval and mortar fire while the World watches. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Syria Analysis: Assad puts Hamas in corner over Syrian assault
17/08/2011 [August 17, 2011]
Group has been silent over attacks on Palestinian refugees in Syria; Speculation still lingering that Hamas leaders may leave Damascus.
GAZA - Syria's crackdown on
government opponents has deeply embarrassed Hamas, which is anxious not to
anger its backers in Damascus while at the same time hoping not to alienate its
supporters at home.
Syrian President Bashar Assad's five-month purge of protesters has gathered pace since the start of August, causing thousands of Palestinians to flee a refugee camp in the city of Latakia this week as Syrian security forces attacked the area.
Ordinary Palestinians watching from a distance in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been swift to denounce the violence, but the Islamist group Hamas has itself said nothing and tried to prevent public displays of anti-Syrian sentiment.
"If they keep silent they will score points with the Syrian regime,"
said political analyst Talal Okal, explaining that
such a stance could be politically costly in the Palestinian territories,
especially in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas.
"The people will not accept it and will see it as a betrayal of the Palestinian refugees in Syria," he added.
A number of Hamas leaders, including its chief, Khaled Meshaal, moved to Syria after they were expelled from Jordan in 1999. From there they hone their strategy against Israel and are relatively free to move around the region.
But the Sunni Muslim group's dependence on Assad, who is from Syria's minority Alawite community, is proving a boon for some Hamas' rivals, who have been highly critical of the violence that rocked the Al Raml refugee camp.
"This is a crime against humanity," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, the West Bank-based secretary general of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
His view was shared by many in Hamas's backyard.
"We have been shocked... the Syrian president does not deserve to lead Syria," said Ahmed Hejazi, 34, who, like almost half of all adults in Gaza, is unemployed.
"What does he expect after the killing he had committed? Does he expect his people to take him into their arms?"
Rights organizations say at least 1,700 civilians have been killed by Syrian security forces since protests erupted in March.
A Gaza youth organization tried to stage an anti-Assad rally on Tuesday evening, but plain-clothed Hamas security police showed up ahead of time and ordered journalists away. They briefly detained a handful of youths who tried to protest.
Hamas, which has built a reputation as a liberation movement among its supporters, is clearly uneasy about the situation.
It has so far offered only a lukewarm statement of support for the Syrian hierarchy and refused to stage pro-Assad events in the refugee camps. Diplomatic sources have said it is also debating in private its continued presence in Damascus.
Leaders of the group have publicly denied suggestions they might leave, but rumors regularly surface, with suggestions that some, if not all, Hamas officials could move to Qatar, Turkey or Sudan. Egypt has refused to allow the group to open an office in Cairo, diplomatic sources said.
Hamas is not the only Palestinian faction that is close to Syria. Other smaller groups, some of them aligned to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, have also stayed mute despite the crackdown.
"This is an absolutely shameful and hypocritical position that only has one explanation; these factions are still betting on (the survival of) the bloody regime," said Palestinian political analyst Hani Habib.
However, none face quite the same predicament as Hamas, and any further upswing in the violence could force a change of policy. "The interest of Palestinian factions has to be to their people," said Habib.
All rights reserved © The Jerusalem Post 1995 - 2011
[Note: The 2011 Sunni rebellion against Syria’s Alawite-controlled government has resulted in death and displacement among Syria’s “Palestinian” population, but the international “human rights” community did not become apoplectic over the fate of these “Palestinians”. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
PA fears for Palestinians caught in Syria violence
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Some 300 Palestinians have been killed since beginning of uprising; half a million live in country, mostly in refugee camps.
(Jerusalem Post, July 20, 2012) Palestinian Authority officials Thursday expressed concern over the safety of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in refugee camps in Syria.
They said that some 300 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the uprising in Syria in March 2011.
More than 500,000 Palestinians are believed to be living in Syria, mostly in a number of refugee camps.
The PA announced Thursday that it was in contact with the Syrian authorities and opposition to avoid involving Palestinians in the escalating violence.
The officials said that in recent weeks a number of Palestinians were kidnapped and killed by unidentified gunmen in various parts of Syria. Three Palestinians were killed in the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus earlier this week, they added.
In the worst incident, 16 members of the Palestine Liberation Army, which is backed by the Syrian authorities, were killed after gunmen stopped their bus and kidnapped them.
The bodies of the Palestinians, whose throats had been slashed, were later discovered in an open field in the suburbs of Damascus.
Palestinian sources believe the perpetrators belonged to the Free Syrian Army and other opposition groups.
Some Palestinian groups based in Syria have been accused of fighting alongside Bashar Assad’s forces against the rebellions.
Hamas, which [after a long period of indecision and vacillation] refused to support Assad, has moved its headquarters out of Syria.
Other Palestinian groups that remained in Syria continue to side with Assad’s regime and have even prevented Palestinians from demonstrating against the regime.
In the last few days, the officials noted, thousands of Syrian civilians fleeing the violence in Damascus have found shelter in Yarmouk.
Members of the Free Syrian Army have also entered Yarmouk and other Palestinian refugees camps, the officials said.
“The flames are quickly approaching Yarmouk,” cautioned commentator Rashad Abu Shawar. “Someone is trying to drag the Palestinians into the fire.”
He said that dozens of armed Muslim fundamentalists entered the camp in the past few days, chanting slogans against Assad and in favor of an Islamic caliphate. The extremists apparently succeeded in recruiting Palestinian militiamen to their ranks.
Reports that dozens of Palestinians have joined the ranks of the Free Syrian Army and are now involved in the battles against Assad’s forces in Damascus have triggered fears in Ramallah over a possible reprisal by the Syrian authorities.
“Our main concern is that the Syrian army will now start attacking Palestinians under the pretext that they are fighting with the terrorists,” said a PA official who is closely monitoring the situation in Syria.
“We are deeply concerned that Palestinians would pay a heavy price in this civil war.”
According to the official, only one Palestinian armed group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command, which is headed by Ahmed Jibril, has been supportive of the Assad regime.
Some members of the groups, the official told The Jerusalem Post, have been helping the Syrian security forces in their clampdown on the opposition.
“Ahmed Jibril is an enemy not only of the Syrian people, but also of Palestinians,” said a Fatah legislator in the West Bank. “The man has a lot of Palestinian blood on his hands.”
Political analyst Fayez Rashid said that although Palestinians have tried to stay neutral during the Arab Spring, they continue to pay a heavy price in the Arab countries.
Palestinians living in Iraq were punished after the US occupation because they were accused of helping Saddam Hussein, Rashid pointed out. “Palestinians were expelled from their homes and forced to run away toward the borders with Syria and Jordan, where they live in harsh conditions and no one is helping them.”
Rashid also pointed out that Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi had also expelled Palestinians from their homes and jobs when he was in power. But when the Libyan dictator fell, Palestinians were accused of having helped Gaddafi suppress the opposition and were once again targeted, he said.
Khaled Abdel Majeed, a senior representative of the pro-Assad Palestinian Struggle Front organization, said that there were increased signs that some parties are trying to drag the Palestinians into the Syrian quagmire. “We don’t interfere in the internal affairs of Syria,” he said. “But we are opposed to the international conspiracy targeting Syria.”
Thousands of Palestinians, meanwhile, have over the past few months fled toward Jordan, where the authorities have denied most of them entry and are holding them in makeshift camps along the border with Syria.
All rights reserved © 1995 - 2012 The Jerusalem Post.
PLO: Over 400 Palestinians killed in Syria conflict
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Head of the PLO's refugee department claims victims were killed in the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus.
(Jerusalem Post, September 20, 2012) More than 400 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the fighting between the Syrian army and anti-government forces, Zakariya al-Agha, a senior PLO official, announced Thursday.
The announcement came as Palestinian refugees who fled the fighting in Syria complained that the Palestinian Authority was doing nothing to assist them.
Nearly 500,000 Palestinians live in a number of refugee camps in Syria.
Agha, who heads the PLO's refugee department, said that since the beginning of the crisis in Syria, the Palestinian leadership's policy has been not to support any of the rival parties.
"The refugees in Syria are there as guests until they return to the homeland from which they were forced out," Agha told the PA's Voice of Palestine radio station.
He said that because the Palestinian refugees camps in Syria have not been involved in the conflict, many Syrian civilians found shelter with Palestinian families.
Agha accused radical Palestinian groups that are affiliated with the Syrian regime of seeking to involve the Palestinian camps in the conflict.
Although he did not name the Palestinian groups, PA leaders have accused Ahmed Jibril's Popular Front front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command of dragging the Palestinians into the fighting in Syria. Jibril's group has long been supportive of the Syrian regime and its memebrs are said to be fighting alongside the Syrian army.
Agha said that all the 400 victims were killed in the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus.
Human rights activists in Syria said that that 18 Palestinians were killed on Wednesday when the Syrian army used artillery to attack Yarmouk camp. The activists said that among the victims were four women and three children.
Meanwhile, representatives of Palestinian refugees who fled from Syria to Jordan complained that the PA was not doing anything to ease their suffering.
In a letter to the PA leadership, the refugees said that the PA embassy in Amman was refusing to extend any type of assistance to them. The refugees said that they have been forced to seek help from international aid organizations and the Jordanian authorities in light of the PA's failure to help them.
All rights reserved © 1995 - 2012 The Jerusalem Post.
'Syrian army uses chemical weapons against Palestinians'
By JPOST.COM STAFF
22/07/2013 [July 7, 2013]
Opposition: 22 killed in Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus.
Syrian opposition activists say that the military has used chemical weapons against the Al Yarmouk district of Damascus, an area of the city comprised predominantly of Palestinian refugees, Israel Radio reported.
Palestinian sources said that 22 people have been killed in the area, most from inhalation of poisonous gases.
In what was considered a significant tactical and moral victory, forces battling to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad captured the Yarmouk region this past December.
The Syrian conflict has split Sunni loyalties, with Hezbollah following its patron Iran in backing Assad. Last year, the leadership of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad had left Syria for Iran but still remained on good terms with the Assad regime.
However, Palestinian Sunni terror group Hamas closed its offices in Damascus earlier this year, announcing in February that they were turning against the Alawite Assad and instead supporting the Sunni rebels.
In October, Syrian rebels announced they had begun arming sympathetic Palestinians, who would form a group called the Liwa al-Asifa (Storm Brigade) to fight against the PFLP-GC and take its Yarmouk stronghold.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command has accused the Liwa al-Asifa of trying to stir up trouble within the Palestinian refugee community in Yarmouk, while Syrian rebels have accused the PFLP-GC of stifling Palestinian dissent against Assad.
Last year, Liwa al-Asifa fighters had critically injured a senior PFLP-GC leader and killed four others in a car bombing attack in Yarmouk.
All rights reserved © 1995 - 2013 The Jerusalem Post.
Activists: Syria government rocket attack kills 15 Palestinian refugees
25/07/2013 [July 25, 2013]
Video footage shows moment Grad missiles hits Hamdan Bakery; activists say rockets hit residential and shopping area.
AMMAN - Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad killed at least 15 Palestinians, mostly women and children, in a rocket attack on a rebel-held refugee camp on the southern edge of Damascus on Wednesday, opposition activists said.
Palestinian militia from the pro-Assad Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) as well as Syrian army and intelligence troops have been surrounding the camp for months.
On Saturday they launched a ground infantry assault backed by tanks and multiple rocket launchers to capture the camp but were being met by stiff resistance, opposition sources said.
"The rockets hit a residential and shopping area way behind the front line. The victims were civilians," activist Rami al-Sayyed from the Syrian Media Center opposition monitoring group, said from the area, adding that 45 people were wounded.
The report could not be independently confirmed. The Syrian government restricts access to journalists.
The Yarmouk Camp Coordination Committee said two Grad missiles fired by PFLP-GC militia hit the Hamdan Bakery area. Five women and five children were killed. One family living in the area, Fadlon, had five members killed, the organization said.
Video footage taken by activists, which could not be immediately verified, showed one destroyed building and extensive damage to surrounding structures. People collected body parts from the rubble. A hand was placed into a transparent plastic bag.
The Jerusalem Post can not verify the veracity of this video, which claims to show the moment the rocket fell near the Hamdan Bakery area.
Assad's forces have been fighting against rebels for two and a half years in a civil war that has killed at least 100,000 people.
Located at the southern entrance of Damascus, the sprawling camp was home to hundreds of thousands of Syrians and Palestinians before the uprising against the 13 year rule of Assad.
Yarmouk links the large rebel held Sunni Muslim neighbourhoods of Hajar al-Aswad and Asali with the capital and its capture is a key objective for loyalist forces seeking to regain control over southern Damascus, opposition sources said.
Syrian rebels aided by Palestinian fighters who had joined the revolt captured Yarmouk at the start of this year and took the PFLP-GC headquarters in the camp. The PFLP-GC, headed by long time Assad ally Ahmed Jibreel, is classified as a terrorist organization by the United States.
All rights reserved © 1995 - 2013 The Jerusalem Post.
Why Palestinian Leaders Ignore Arab Atrocities
January 20, 2022 at 5:00 am
§ For now, it seems that the Palestinian leadership is ignoring not only the "tragedies" of its people in Syria, but even the complaints about the failure of the Palestinian officials to raise the issue with the Syrian government.
§ The Palestinian leadership apparently does not want to assume any responsibility for its people in the Arab world because that would mean spending money on them and providing them with various services. Palestinian leaders would, it seems, rather keep the money for themselves than assist their own people.
§ The Palestinian leaders appear more concerned about the return of the Assad regime to the Arab League than the return of tens of thousands of displaced Palestinians to their homes in Syria. These leaders know that it is far easier -- and far safer -- to condemn Israel than to demand that Assad cease committing atrocities against the Palestinians. Spewing hatred against Israel has no price tag attached. Criticizing an Arab dictator, by contrast, can prove costly in the extreme.
The Palestinian leadership is ignoring not only the "tragedies" of its people in Syria, but even the complaints about the failure of the Palestinian officials to raise the issue with the Syrian government. The London-based Action Group for Palestinians of Syria estimated the number of Palestinians who have died of torture in Syrian prisons at 620. Hundreds more Palestinians died due lack of proper medical treatment during the Syrian army's siege of the Yarmouk refugee camp, the group said. Pictured: Yarmouk refugee camp, near Damascus, on May 22, 2018, days after Syrian government forces regained control over the camp. (Photo by Louai Beshara/AFP via Getty Images)
Palestinian leaders never miss an opportunity to condemn Israel and accuse it of committing "crimes" against the Palestinians. This is in the context of the ongoing virulent Palestinian campaign of incitement against Israel.
The Palestinian leaders, however, remain oblivious to the suffering of their people in some Arab countries, especially Syria, where more than 4,100 Palestinians have been killed during the fighting between the Syrian army and the opposition or died as a result of torture, starvation and medical negligence over the past decade. These leaders are also most likely afraid that their Arab brothers would punish them if they speak out against the atrocities committed against Palestinians in the Arab countries.
Human rights organizations have described the Syrian practices and measures against the Palestinians as a "catastrophe" and "massacres." They pointed out that since the eruption of the civil war in Syria in 2011, tens of thousands of Palestinians have been arrested or displaced.
The "crimes" against the Palestinians in Syria do not, unfortunately, seem to be at the top of the Palestinian Authority's (PA) priority list. Worse, the PA leadership is currently trying to curry favor with Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose security forces are accused of killing, wounding, arresting and displacing tens of thousands of Palestinians.
The PA leadership's attempt to restore its ties with the Assad regime has drawn sharp, widespread and harsh criticism from many Palestinians and Syrians. They say they cannot grasp the logic of reconciling with an Arab leader who has so much Palestinian blood on his hands.
Earlier this month, a delegation representing the ruling Fatah faction headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas visited Damascus, where its members met with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad. The delegation, headed by Fatah Secretary-General Jibril Rajoub, handed the minister a letter from Abbas to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The letter "affirmed the depth of the historic relations between the two sides and [Abbas's] desire to strengthen relations between the State of Palestine and the Arab Republic of Syria."
Rajoub later announced that Abbas was planning to visit Damascus soon to meet with Assad. Rajoub was also quoted as saying that a decision to suspend Syria's membership in the Arab League was "shameful." The decision was taken in 2011 by the Arab League in response to Syria's failure to end its bloody and violent crackdown on anti-Assad protesters.
Rajoub's support for the reinstatement of Syria's membership in the Arab League and the PA leadership's efforts to normalize its ties with the Assad regime drew sharp criticism from many Palestinians and Syrians.
Commenting on Rajoub's statements, Syrian cartoonist Ammar Agha Al-Kala wrote:
"The shame is that 14 million [Syrians and Palestinians] have been displaced. The shame is that 1.5 million people have been killed."
Palestinian-Syrian writer and journalist Suad Qatanani remarked:
"Mahmoud Abbas will visit the one (Assad) who starved and killed Palestinians in Yarmouk refugee camp (near Damascus). Will he ask Assad why he destroyed the Palestinian camps and displaced their people? Will he ask Assad about those who were killed in Syrian detention? Will he ask Assad about the fate of the Palestinians who disappeared in Syrian prisons?"
According to the London-based Action Group For Palestinians of Syria (AGPS), a human rights watchdog that monitors the situation of Palestinian refugees in war-torn Syria, 1,458 Palestinians from Yarmouk have been killed since 2011. This includes 496 who died due to shelling of the camp, 208 who died from starvation or medical neglect due to the siege by the Syrian army and 215 tortured to death in Syrian prisons. According to a recent report by AGPS:
"Yarmouk camp is considered one of the most affected areas in Syria as a result of the siege imposed by the Syrian army and its loyal forces since 2013, while water and electricity were completely cut off for the population in 2014, and the entry of food, medical and other items was also prohibited."
"War crimes and crimes against humanity have been carried out against Palestinian and Syrian civilians in Yarmouk, which is under brutal siege by Syrian government forces," Amnesty International revealed in 2014. Residents told the human rights group that they had not eaten fruit or vegetables for many months, while others said they had resorted to eating cats and dogs.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) pointed out that before the civil war in Syria, Yarmouk camp was home to nearly 160,000 Palestinians. Today, the number of residents living in the camp is estimated at 3,000. In 2018, it was estimated that 60% of the camp had been destroyed by the Syrian army and pro-Assad militias.
During their visit to Syria, the Palestinian delegation members attended a rally in Yarmouk camp to mark the 57th anniversary of the launch of Fatah's first terrorist attack against Israel.
Commenting on the visit, Palestinian-Syrian lawyer and writer Ayman Abo Hashem wrote:
"The visit of the Fatah delegation to Damascus and the [Fatah] rally held on the ruins of Yarmouk camp are a stab in the back of all the Palestinian and Syrian victims whose homes were destroyed and who were killed, arrested, and displaced by the Assad regime's criminal regime. Palestine refuses to be associated with leaders who turn a blind eye to its tragedies and care only about their interests."
The Fatah delegation that visited Damascus has faced severe criticism and widespread condemnation from Palestinians and Syrians for ignoring the "tragedy" of the Palestinians in Syria and not including it in the discussions with Syrian government officials, AGPS reported on January 8, adding:
"A number of Palestinian activists expressed outrage at Fatah's and the Palestinian Authority's neglect and marginalization of the tragedy of the Palestinians in Syria and their lack of sense of responsibility towards it... The activists said that the Palestinian leadership works for its own interests, forgetting the pain of their people and displaying indifference to their suffering."
Samer, a Palestinian from Yarmouk, told AGPS:
"This complete disregard [for the plight of the Palestinians in Syria] was accepted with great resentment by the Palestinians, who no longer have confidence in the leadership that undervalues them and wants to achieve its own political gains at the expense of its people."
Noting that 620 Palestinians have died of torture in Syrian prisons and detention centers since 2011, AGPS pointed out that the Palestinians of Syria urged the Palestinian embassy in Damascus dozens of times to intervene to release Palestinians held by the Syrian regime and halt the siege of Yarmouk camp and the repeated attacks on Palestinian camps, especially air raids and barrel bombardments. Their appeals went unheeded.
Palestinian activist Abu Mustafa al-Qaoud said that the Palestinian leadership has never used its relations with the Syrian regime to serve the interests of the Palestinians in Syria. "The Palestinian Authority has failed to secure the release of one Palestinian [from Syrian detention] or the return of one displaced family to its home," al-Qaoud complained.
For now, it seems that the Palestinian leadership is ignoring not only the "tragedies" of its people in Syria, but even the complaints about the failure of the Palestinian officials to raise the issue with the Syrian government.
The Palestinian leadership apparently does not want to assume any responsibility for its people in the Arab world because that would mean spending money on them and providing them with various services. Palestinian leaders would, it seems, rather keep the money for themselves than assist their own people.
The Palestinian leaders appear more concerned about the return of the Assad regime to the Arab League than the return of tens of thousands of displaced Palestinians to their homes in Syria. These leaders know that it is far easier -- and far safer -- to condemn Israel than to demand that Assad cease committing atrocities against the Palestinians. Spewing hatred against Israel has no price tag attached. Criticizing an Arab dictator, by contrast, can prove costly in the extreme.
Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem.
§ Follow Khaled Abu Toameh on Twitter
© 2022 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved.
[Note: Jordan’s severe ill-treatment of its “Palestinian” brethren, including those with Jordanian citizenship, is being ignored by the entire U.N. system, including its United Nations Human Rights Council and its United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, as well as by virtually all of the international “human rights” organizations. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Jordan: Palestinians Escaping Syria Turned Away
Others Vulnerable to Deportation, Living in Fear
Human Rights Watch, AUGUST 7, 2014
What Jordan Should do:
Rescind its non-admittance policy for Palestinians from Syria seeking safe haven in Jordan
Cease deportations of Palestinians to Syria
Halt the arbitrary withdrawal of citizenship from Jordanian citizens of Palestinian origin who lived in Syria prior to the Syrian conflict
Picture: Refugees at the Cyber City refugee camp near Ramtha, Jordan, July 21, 2012. Jordan has prevented Palestinians from Syria from entering Jordan since 2012, and is holding 190 Palestinians at the closed Cyber City refugee camp, where they have the unenviable choice of remaining in the camp indefinitely or returning to Syria. © 2012 Tara Todras-Whitehill/The New York Times
Jordan's Treatment of Palestinians Escaping Syria
AUGUST 7, 2014
The plight of the Palestinians is the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about because everyone is already under such a burden to meet the needs of refugees from Syria. But no refugees fleeing the violence in Syria – Syrians and Palestinians alike – should be denied entry and forced back against their will.
Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director
(Amman) – Jordan refuses entry to or forcibly deports Palestinian refugees escaping Syria, in clear breach of its international obligations, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Jordan has officially banned entry to Palestinians from Syria since January 2013 and has forcibly deported over 100 who managed to enter the country since mid-2012, including women and children.
The 44-page report, “Not Welcome: Jordan’s Treatment of Palestinians Escaping Syria,” is based on interviews with more than 30 people affected by the non-admission policy. Human Rights Watch also documented Jordan’s withdrawal of Jordanian citizenship from some Palestinians who had lived in Syria for many years and who have been detained or deported to Syria without identity documents. Jordan’s uncompromising treatment of Palestinians fleeing Syria contrasts with its treatment of Syrian nationals, at least 607,000 of whom have been accepted into the country since the beginning of the Syrian conflict. Before the March 2011 uprising began, Syria was home to at least 520,000 Palestinian refugees.
“The plight of the Palestinians is the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about because everyone is already under such a burden to meet the needs of refugees from Syria,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “But no refugees fleeing the violence in Syria – Syrians and Palestinians alike – should be denied entry and forced back against their will.”
Most of Syria’s neighboring countries have also placed entry restrictions on Palestinians from Syria, leaving thousands stuck and facing great dangers. The Jordanian government should urgently rescind its ban on Palestinian refugees and end deportations of Palestinians from Syria, Human Rights Watch said.
Jordanian security forces have turned away Palestinians who seek to enter Jordan from Syria at the country’s borders since mid-2012 and the government announced its official non-admittance policy in January 2013. Security forces also detain and deport Palestinians who enter at unofficial border crossings using forged Syrian identity documents, or who enter illegally via smuggling networks. Officially, Jordan allows Palestinians from Syria who hold Jordanian citizenship to enter, but in practice Jordan has denied entry to such Palestinians whose Jordanian documents have expired, in some cases arbitrarily stripping them of their Jordanian citizenship and forcibly returning them to Syria.
Jordanian security services have detained and forcibly returned over 100 Palestinians to Syria since the beginning of 2013, according to the Syria Needs Analysis Project (SNAP), a nongovernmental monitoring group. In its February 2013 Syria Crisis Response Annual Report, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees, said it had documented numerous cases of Palestinians forcibly returned to Syria from Jordan, including women and children.
Human Rights Watch documented Jordan’s forcible deportation of seven Palestinians from Syria in 2013 and 2014, and the transfer of four others to Cyber City, a closed holding facility for Palestinian and Syrian refugees in northern Jordan. In the deportation cases, Jordanian authorities separated and deported Palestinian men from their families, in some cases leaving the families without their primary source of income.
Sana, an elderly Palestinian woman, described how Jordanian authorities hastily deported her son-in-law Mohammed and his brother in late 2013 after catching Mohammed working illegally, selling vegetables from a cart in Irbid. She said both brothers had entered Jordan with their Syrian wives using forged Syrian family books and registered with UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, under false names.
Sana, a Jordanian citizen, went to the police station after she found out about her son-in-law’s arrest two days later. ”They told me to come back the next day,” she said. “They said they would find a solution for us. Mohammed called me an hour later from Syria.”
The deportations violate Jordan’s international obligation of nonrefoulement, the prohibition in international law on returning refugees and asylum seekers to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened, or the return of anyone to the risk of torture.
Fayez Tarawneh, head of the royal court and former prime minister, defended the non-admittance policy in a meeting with Human Rights Watch in May 2013, saying a large influx of Palestinians from Syria would alter the demographic balance of the kingdom and cause instability. At least half the population of Jordan is believed to be of Palestinian origin. Tarawneh said he doubted that Jordan would be able legally to deport the Palestinians – a stateless group – to Syria once the conflict there has concluded if they were allowed refuge in Jordan.
In spite of Jordan’s non-admittance policy, as of July 2014, over 14,000 Palestinians from Syria had sought support from UNRWA in Jordan since the beginning of the Syrian conflict. Only 1,300 of them had entered Jordan lawfully before authorities began the pushbacks of Palestinians at the border. Most came from Palestinian refugee camps and villages in southern Syria or from the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in the southern suburbs of Damascus, all areas that have experienced intense fighting.
As a result of the Jordanian government’s policy, many Palestinians from Syria do not have proper residency papers in Jordan, making them vulnerable to exploitation, arrest, and deportation. Undocumented Palestinians from Syria dare not seek protection or redress from the Jordanian government against exploitation or other abuses. They cannot legally live in the official refugee camps established for Syrians, but cannot legally work to earn money for renting housing outside the camps.
Donor countries and local and international aid agencies have not adequately addressed the humanitarian concerns facing the Palestinians, and few provide them with any humanitarian assistance. The 2014 Syria Regional Response Plan’s section on Jordan excludes Palestinians. The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), the local coordination mechanism for aid agencies working on the Syria refugee response in Jordan chaired by UNHCR, does not discuss issues relating to Palestinians from Syria.
International donors and aid agencies should work together to ensure that Palestinians from Syria receive humanitarian aid and protection support on a par with services offered to Syrian nationals in Jordan, Human Rights Watch said.
International donors should also step up assistance to Jordan and humanitarian agencies working on the Syria crisis. The UNHCR Jordan office, which coordinates the refugee response, has raised only 36 percent of its US$1 billion budget goal for 2014. UNHCR-Lebanon’s funding gap is even higher, with 71 percent of its 2014 budget unfunded.
Other than Turkey, all of Syria’s neighbors have placed onerous restrictions on entry for Palestinians fleeing Syria. All neighboring countries should respect the rights of Palestinian refugees to seek safety and asylum outside Syria as long as they face insecurity and persecution there.
Countries outside the region should provide financial assistance to countries that take Palestinian refugees from Syria and should consider accepting vulnerable Palestinian refugees for temporary humanitarian resettlement. Palestinian refugees should not have to forfeit their right of return [to the State of Israel] by accepting an offer of temporary resettlement in a third country.
“Jordan and Lebanon should not be abandoned to bear the brunt of the Syrian refugee crisis without adequate support,” Houry said. “International donors should step up aid to all countries sheltering Syrian refugees and encourage them to scrap entry restrictions for Palestinians.”
© Copyright 2014, Human Rights Watch
Why Jordan Doesn't Want More Palestinians
by Khaled Abu Toameh
Gatestone Institute August 18, 2014 at 5:00 am
By mistreating the Palestinians and depriving them of their basic rights, Jordan and other Arab countries are driving them into the open arms of extremists, especially Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
Jordan, Lebanon and Syria can continue their practices against Palestinians without having to worry about the responses of the international community or the media. No one is going to take to the streets of European and American cities to condemn Arabs for mistreating Arabs.
It is no secret that many Arab countries despise Palestinians and subject them to apartheid laws and strict security measures that deny them most basic rights.
The mistreatment of Palestinians at the hands of their Arab brothers is an issue that is rarely mentioned in the mainstream media in the West. Most journalists prefer to look the other way when a story lacks an anti-Israel perspective.
A story is big only when it is Israel that arrests, kills, or deports.
When Arab countries such as Jordan, Syria and Lebanon move against Palestinians, however, foreign journalists choose to bury their heads in the sand. Such has been the case with Jordan and its mistreatment of the kingdom's Palestinian majority.
Jordan's dilemma is that if it allows more Palestinians into the country, the kingdom, which already has a Palestinian majority, would be transformed into a Palestinian state. But by mistreating the Palestinians and depriving them of basic rights, Jordan and other Arab countries are driving them into the open arms of extremists, especially Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
The Jordanians have clearly chosen to follow the second option, which means keeping as many Palestinians as possible out of the kingdom. As far as King Abdullah is concerned, it is better to have radicalized Palestinians outside the kingdom than to let them into the kingdom, where they would cause him more trouble.
The Jordanians see the Palestinians as a "demographic threat" and are constantly searching for a solution to this problem. Jordan's biggest fear is that its kingdom will one day become a Palestinian state. Jordanian authorities seem determined to do their utmost to avoid such a scenario, even if that means being condemned by human rights groups.
The Jordanians know that UN agencies are not going to denounce them if they deport Palestinians or revoke their citizenship.
Jordan wants to solve its Palestinian problem quietly and far from the spotlight.
A series of measures taken by the Jordanian authorities over the past three years serve as an indicator of Amman's increased concern over the Palestinian "threat." These measures include revoking the citizenship of many Palestinians and forcibly deporting others who are fleeing from Syria.
Ironically, the Jordanians say that these measures are designed to help the Palestinians. Jordan wants the Palestinians to believe that depriving them of basic rights and deporting them from the kingdom is something good for the Palestinian cause. The Jordanians say they do not even understand why the affected Palestinians are not welcoming the anti-Palestinian measures.
How do the Jordanians justify their anti-Palestinian policy? By arguing that if they aid the Palestinians and provide them with shelter and passports, this would serve Israeli interests.
"We don't want to be an Israeli tool for re-settling Palestinians who come to Jordan, by granting them citizenship, "explained former Jordanian interior minister Nayef al-Qadi. "Otherwise, we would be telling the Palestinians to forget Palestine [i.e, implementation of a right of return to the State of Israel]."
Al-Qadi, who played a key role in drafting the policy of withdrawing Jordanian citizenship from Palestinians, said he is also opposed to granting citizenship to the children of Jordanian women married to Palestinians and other non-Jordanian nationals.
"Why don't they call them the children of the men married to Jordanian women? Why aren't these children given the citizenship of their fathers? We have about 500,000 Jordanian women married to non-Jordanians. If we multiply that by 3-4, we will have to hand this country over to Israel and go away. We won't have anything left here."
The former Jordanian minister's attempt to justify the crackdown came shortly after Human Rights Watch released a report detailing Jordan's mistreatment of Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria. Entitled, "Not Welcome: Jordan's Treatment of Palestinians Escaping Syria," the report, which has won little attention in the international media, accuses the Jordanians of breaching their international obligations.
Unfortunately for the Palestinians (but fortunately for the Jordanians), the damning report against Jordan was released on August 7, at a time when the world's attention was focused on the war between Hamas and Israel.
According to the report, Jordan, in a clear breach of its international obligations, refuses entry to, or forcibly deports, Palestinian refugees escaping Syria. "Jordan has officially banned entry to Palestinians from Syria since January 2013 and has forcibly deported over 100 who managed to enter the country since mid-2012, including women and children," the report revealed.
The report quotes Basma, a Palestinian woman from Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, who describes how the Jordanians turned her and others back. "They told us, 'You are Palestinians, you aren't allowed to enter,'" she recounted. "They took us in a bus and dropped us on the Syrian side of the border at 2 a.m."
Another Palestinian refugee from Damascus, 47-year-old Abdullah, was quoted as saying: "As we were crossing, the Jordanian army started firing at us. We all laid down flat on the ground to avoid the gunfire. After some moments two trucks with army officers came to us, before we knew what was happening an army officer shot five of us in our legs. We weren't trying to flee."
During the past three years, Jordan has received millions of Syrian refugees. But when it comes to Palestinians, the story is different.
The Jordanians are not afraid of the Syrian refugees because they know that once the crisis is over in their country, they will return to their homes. Unlike the Palestinians, the Syrians are not seeking Jordanian citizenship or new lives in the kingdom. The Syrians see their presence in Jordan as a temporary situation.
There is also no talk about transforming Jordan into a "Syrian state," as opposed to calls for creating a homeland for the Palestinians in the kingdom. As such, the Jordanians' problem is with Palestinians, not Syrians or other Arabs.
Fayez Tarawneh, head of the royal court and former prime minister, defended the anti-Palestinian measures in a meeting with Human Rights Watch last year. He said that a large influx of Palestinians from Syria would alter the demographic balance of the kingdom and cause instability.
The human rights group said that as a result of the Jordanian government's policy, many Palestinians from Syria do not have proper residency papers in Jordan, "making them vulnerable to exploitation, arrest, and deportation."
It continued that, "undocumented Palestinians from Syria dare not seek protection or redress from the Jordanian government against exploitation or other abuses."
Jordan, Lebanon and Syria can continue their abusive practices against Palestinians without having to worry about the response of the international community. No one is going to take to the streets of American and European cities to condemn Arabs for mistreating Arabs.
Copyright © 2014 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved.
[Note: One firebomb-throwing “Palestinian” in Gaza, who is justifiably killed by an Israeli army sniper during widespread “Palestinian” attempts to breach Gaza’s border with Israel, receives more international attention than the thousands of innocent “Palestinians” residing in Syria who have been bombed into submission by Syrian and Russian warplanes. Read on! – Mark Rosenblit]
220 Airstrikes on Palestinians; World Yawns
by Khaled Abu Toameh
April 26, 2018 at 5:00 am
While all eyes are set on the weekly demonstrations organized by Hamas and other Palestinian factions along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, as part of the so-called March of Return, a Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus is facing a wide-scale military offensive and ethnic cleansing by the Syrian army and its allies.
The war crimes committed against the Palestinians in Yarmouk camp have so far failed to prompt an ounce of outrage, much less the sort of outcry emerging from the international community over the events of the past four weeks along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
The international community seems to differentiate between a Palestinian shot by an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian shot by a Syrian soldier.
In the first case, Hamas and several Palestinian groups have been encouraging Palestinians to march towards the border with Israel, with some even trying to destroy the security fence and hurling stones and petrol bombs at Israeli troops. The organizers of the Gaza demonstrations say their real goal is to "achieve the right of return and return to all of Palestine."
Dozens of local and foreign journalists have shown great interest in the "March of Return." Reporters from different parts of the world have been converging on the Gaza Strip and the border with Israel to report about the weekly demonstrations and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers.
How many journalists, though, have traveled to Syria to cover the plight of the Palestinians in that country? A small handful, perhaps? Why? Because the Palestinians who are being maimed and murdered in Syria are the victims of an Arab army -- nothing to do with Israel.
Yarmouk camp was once home to some 160,000 Palestinians. Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria, however, the number of residents left in the camp is estimated at a few hundred.
On April 19, the Syrian army and its allies, including the Russians, launched a massive offensive against opposition groups and Islamic State terrorists based in Yarmouk.
Since then, 5,000 of the 6,000 residents left in Yarmouk have fled the camp, according to the United Nations and human rights organizations. Most of the camp's houses have been destroyed in the past few years as a result of the fighting between the Syrian army and opposition groups that found shelter inside Yarmouk.
Yarmouk has been under the full siege of the Syrian army since 2013, a situation that has caused a humanitarian crisis for the residents. According to some reports, the situation has gotten so bad that residents living there have been forced to eat dogs and cats to survive.
In the past week, at least 15 Palestinians have been killed in airstrikes and artillery shelling on Yarmouk.
According to the London-based Action Group for Palestinians of Syria, 3,722 Palestinians (including 465 women) have been killed since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011. Another 1,675 are said to have been detained by the Syrian authorities, and another 309 are listed as missing.
More than 200 of the Palestinian victims died because of the lack of food and medical care, most of them in Yarmouk. Since the beginning of the civil war, some 120,000 Palestinians have fled Syria to Europe. An additional 31,000 fled to Lebanon, 17,000 to Jordan, 6,000 to Egypt, 8,000 to Turkey and 1,000 to the Gaza Strip.
On April 24, Syrian and Russian warplanes carried out more than 85 airstrikes on Yarmouk camp and dropped 24 barrels of explosives; 24 rocket and dozens of missiles were fired at the camp.
A day earlier, Syrian and Russian warplanes launched 220 airstrikes on Yarmouk camp. The warplanes dropped 55 barrels of dynamite on the camp, which was also targeted with 108 rockets and missiles.
According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the conflict in Syria "continues to disrupt the lives of civilians, resulting in death and injuries, internal displacement, extensive damage to civilian infrastructure and persistent humanitarian needs. Affected communities suffer indiscriminate violence, restrictions on their freedom of movement and continued violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. Palestinians are among those worst affected by the conflict."
UNRWA said that of the estimated 438,000 Palestine refugees remaining inside Syria, more than 95% (418,000) are in critical need of sustained humanitarian assistance. Almost 254,000 are internally displaced, and an estimated 56,600 are trapped in hard-to-reach or wholly inaccessible locations.
The silence of the international community to the war crimes being committed against defenseless Palestinians in a refugee camp in Syria is an insult.
Dropping barrels of dynamite on houses and hospitals in a Palestinian refugee camp is apparently of no interest to those who pretend to champion Palestinians around the world. Nor does the issue seem to move the UN Security Council.
But the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel: for the world, that is where the real story is unfolding. Certainly not in Syria, where Palestinians face ethnic cleansing on a daily basis.
As for the leaders of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip? They are otherwise occupied. Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority and Hamas are too busy lunging at each other's throats and trying to take down Israel to pay much attention to their people's suffering in Syria.
For the past four weeks, the two rival Palestinian parties have been castigating Israel for its actions along its border with the Gaza Strip. They have also been calling on the international community to hold Israel accountable for its "crimes" against Palestinians.
But when it comes to atrocities being committed against their people in an Arab country, words apparently fail Palestinian leaders. Assad and his army can slaughter Palestinians and launch airstrikes on a Palestinian camp without a whimper of protest from Hamas or the Palestinian Authority. In fact, all one hears is the silence of the dead.
Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.
Copyright © 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved.
[Note: Not only does the World “care” about “Palestinian” Arabs only when Israel is “oppressing” them, but the European Union, in particular, “cares” about Jews only when they are the long-dead victims of Nazi Germany’s genocidal campaign which terminated approximately 60 years ago. Living Jews who are the present targets of a continuing campaign of terror by “Palestinian” Arabs simply do not elicit any such concern. For, although the EU is beginning to act in cases where it has ongoing economic and diplomatic leverage over national perpetrators of genocide and/or war crimes, the EU refuses to use such leverage to thwart and/or punish such atrocities when the perpetrators thereof are the “Palestinians” and the victims thereof are the Jews. Consequently, how fortunate are the “Palestinians” when their adversaries are the Jews. In this respect, the “Palestinians” have one stellar advantage over every other population in the World that claims -- rightly or wrongly -- to be oppressed (be they Chechens in Russia, Basques in Spain-France, Kurds in Turkey-Syria-Iran-Iraq, Uygurs in China, or Arabs in Iran). Namely, they have the great luck to be “oppressed” by the Jewish people. After all, if the Jews are such brutish oppressors, then the Europeans can certainly justify feeling absolved of the Evil that they themselves have perpetrated against the Jewish people over the past several millennia, culminating in the Holocaust. Moreover, by supporting a “Palestinian” struggle for “freedom” which has resulted, and continues to result, in mass murder and mayhem against the Jewish people, the Europeans have discovered a “morally” acceptable means of condoning the very thing of which they desire to feel absolved. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
When a war crime isn't a 'war crime'
By Evelyn Gordon
(Jerusalem Post, March 24, 2005) If you want to know the true meaning of all the eloquent commitments to Jewish and Israeli survival voiced by European diplomats at the inauguration of Yad Vashem's new Holocaust museum last week, compare the European Union's current behavior in the Balkans to its behavior in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The EU, of course, did nothing to stop ethnic massacres in the Balkans in the 1990s, just as it did nothing in Rwanda, Iraqi Kurdistan (Halabja) or Darfur [in Sudan]. But it has at least expressed retroactive disapproval by conditioning various economic and diplomatic benefits on prosecution of the worst Balkan criminals.
Just last week, for instance, the EU was supposed to open accession talks with Croatia. But the talks were canceled, with no new date set, due to Croatia's failure to hand over a suspected war criminal, Ante Gotovina, to a UN tribunal. The EU refused to accept the Croatian government's claim that it has no idea where Gotovina is.
And similar pressure on other Balkan countries has racked up impressive successes. On March 8, for instance, Kosovan Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj resigned and surrendered to the UN tribunal, where he is wanted for alleged war crimes during his years as a guerrilla leader. Kosovo is currently a UN protectorate, and it wants to begin talks on full independence this year. But the EU and the US (which together hold three of the Security Council's five permanent seats) insisted that Kosovo's readiness for independence would be judged, in the words of NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, by “its progress [in] meeting the standards set by the international community. Cooperation with the tribunal is one of those standards.”
A former Serbian general, Momcilo Peresic, gave himself up to the tribunal the day before Haradinaj did; a few days earlier, so did a former Bosnian general, Rasim Delic. Last week, a former Bosnian Serb officer, Drago Nikolic, joined them, and this week, so did another, Vinko Pandurevic. Altogether, almost a dozen wanted Balkans have given themselves up in the past two months -- all because the EU has conditioned closer economic and political ties, which the Balkan nations desperately want, on their turning in suspected war criminals. As the Irish Times explained in a March 10 editorial, “however difficult it is to render up military leaders who become war heroes, this is the price of progress.”
Or at least, it is when the victims are Croats or Serbs or Bosnians or
Albanians. But not, it turns out, when the victims are Jews.
Many Palestinians have also committed war crimes over the past four years: blowing up school buses, Passover seders, discos, bar mitzvas. Nor does the EU lack leverage over the Palestinian Authority: Every year for the past four years, it has given the PA, on average, almost 250 million euros ($335 million at current exchange rates), and it has pledged the same for 2005. This figure comprises some 15 percent of the PA's 2005 budget and 30 percent of its expected foreign aid for the year.
During all these years, not only has the PA failed to arrest a single terrorist; it has never even tried. Even today, its new, “reform-minded” chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, openly pledges not to lift a finger against the terrorist organizations. Yet never has the EU even hinted at conditioning its cash infusions on PA efforts to arrest the criminals. Instead, it expresses understanding for the PA's claim that the terrorists are local heroes, and thus cannot be arrested.
Indeed, far from demanding the terrorists' incarceration, the EU has repeatedly pressured Israel to release Palestinian terrorists -- as a “goodwill gesture” to the PA.
Similarly, while the EU declares that bringing war criminals to justice is a condition for Kosovan independence, it has never imposed a similar condition on Palestinian independence. On the contrary: It has systematically worked to undermine George Bush's insistence that progress toward statehood depends on dismantling the terrorist organizations. In Europe's eyes, Abbas's plan to instead make the terrorists salaried members of the PA's official security services is just fine.
The same double standard was evident in the EU's treatment of Yasser Arafat. Not only was Arafat, as head of the PLO, responsible for murdering hundreds of Jewish civilians, but as head of the PA, he presided over -- or at least made no effort to stop -- the bloody terror of the past four years, which has claimed more Jewish lives than all the terror attacks of the previous 52 years combined. Yet only in Bush's Washington did this make Arafat persona non grata. In every European capital, he continued to be a sought-after visitor, and European diplomats routinely made pilgrimages to him in Ramallah.
The Europeans, of course, excused this by saying that Arafat was the Palestinians' elected leader. But the fact that Haradinaj was the elected -- and wildly popular -- prime minister of Kosovo did not stop them from demanding his head on a platter. On the contrary: They viewed the Kosovans' choice of a suspected war criminal for prime minister as evidence that Kosovo was unready for independence.
The message inherent in the EU's differing attitudes toward Balkan and Palestinian war criminals is clear: In the EU's eyes, murdering Serbs or Croats or Bosnians or Albanians is a crime, and the perpetrators must be brought to justice. But the cold-blooded murder of Israeli civilians is legitimate. Thus not only need the PA not bring the perpetrators to justice, but Israel ought to free any terrorists whom it has managed to arrest and try.
And until the EU begins treating the murder of Jews by Palestinians as
seriously as it does the murder of Croats by Serbs or Serbs by Albanians, all
those fine Yad Vashem speeches will be nothing more than so much eloquent lip
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: The below article -- written, presciently, just a few days before rampaging “Palestinian” Arab mobs, without triggering any international criticism, began to desecrate and demolish the deserted synagogues of the abandoned Jewish towns of Gaza -- makes the point that, appertaining to the “Palestinian” Arab war of terror against Israel, there is neither any magnitude nor frequency of atrocity which the “Palestinian” Arabs might surpass which would cause the World either to deprive the “Palestinian” Arabs of their internationally-bestowed mantle of Victimhood or to absolve Israel of its internationally-imposed obligation to continue making dangerous and futile concessions to them. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Column One: The image of the truth
By Caroline Glick
(Jerusalem Post, September 9, 2005) They say that one picture is worth a thousand words. No doubt this is true. But what is the guarantee that those words are truthful?
On September 30, 2000, The New York Times ran a photograph that, no doubt, for the photo editor, told the entire tale of the then two-day-old Palestinian terror war against Israel.
The picture showed a bloodied, frightened youth sitting in the foreground and an irate Israeli border guard, mouth agape, standing behind him, wielding a police baton. In the background, crimson flames and black smoke plumed upward behind cement blocks.
The photo editor never questioned what it is that he was looking at. Of course, the boy was a Palestinian. The assailant was the angry Israeli policeman. After all, as an enlightened man of the world, he knew what every right thinking person knows: the Palestinians are the victim. The Israelis are the aggressors. And so, the caption under the photograph told Times readers that indeed, what the photo editor assumed, was reality.
Sadly, the thousand words told by that photograph were a thousand lies. The bloodied youth in the foreground was a Jewish student from Chicago named Tuvia Grossman. He had been dragged out of his taxi in east Jerusalem by a Palestinian mob and was beaten and stabbed to the edge of death. With his last measure of strength, Grossman screamed and ran to the nearest Israeli security forces he could find. The border guard with the baton was protecting him from the mob.
Eventually, after receiving an angry letter from Grossman's father in Chicago, the Times apologized for the error. Grossman spent 10 days in the hospital in Jerusalem and then was flown to his family in Chicago where he was confined to a wheelchair for five months as he recuperated from his many wounds.
The story told by that picture then, was the story of the prejudice of the Times' photo-editor.
In much the same manner, the images we are broadcast from Hurricane Katrina tell us a certain story. The victims, in most of the pictures, are African Americans. And the story that has emerged from these images is one of racism. The white (and Republican) Federal government, we are led to believe, waited for an unforgivably long period of time in providing rescue and relief to the victims of the terrible storm, because of the color of their skin. The pictures, like the people who are asked to tell us the story, repeat over and over again that if these had been rich whites, rather than poor blacks, the National Guard would have been called in days before to restore order to New Orleans and to evacuate the victims.
It's a wonderful story. It is easy to follow and allows angry people to feel justified in their hatred and prejudices against Republicans and against President George W. Bush. But like the picture of Tuvia Grossman, it has the singular problem of being untrue.
After the initial barrage of unfounded criticism was launched, the fact of the matter, that the city of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana did not implement their own evacuation plans in spite of the fact that the authorities all knew that the below-sea-level city could not survive a category 4 hurricane like Katrina, began to emerge.
And yet, in the meantime, a myth was born that told the easy story of racism.
What both these examples show is that in spite of what we have been led to believe by our image-inundated world, images do not speak for themselves. They speak with the voice of their creators and their distributors. Every one of us attaches our pre-existing beliefs to what we see and each of us is influenced at some level, and often deeply by the interpretations that are given to the images by those who bring them to our attention.
In Israel, the challenge of imagery is perhaps the greatest challenge that we face. It is important to recognize this fact as we enter into the era where Palestine has been established in Gaza. If we simply glance at the images purveyed to us this week, we understand how massive the challenge remains and how dangerous is will become if we do not rise to meet it.
First of all, let us recall, 12 years ago, when then prime minister Yizhak Rabin embraced Yasser Arafat and the PLO and thus embarked on the Oslo peace process, he was able to convince security hawks of the value of his policy explaining that the Palestinians, not Israel, were about to be put under a microscope. Rabin argued that if the Palestinians did not abide by their commitments to end terrorism and live at peace with Israel, then the entire world would stand by Israel's right to defend itself. Israel would re-enter the areas that it had transferred to PLO control and that would be the end of that. It was a risk, he said, but a calculated risk.
Unfortunately, events proved otherwise. The images purveyed to the world by the PLO propaganda machine were images of cruel Israeli "occupation forces" embittering the lives of the victimized Palestinians. The fact that billions of dollars in international aid were stashed in Swiss bank accounts was of no interest. The fact that the Palestinian security forces established by Arafat were twice their permitted size was cosmically boring. The fact that terror reached unprecedented levels just a year after that handshake on the White House lawn was interpreted not as proof of Palestinian duplicity, but as a justification for increasing calls for yet more Israeli land transfers and further strengthening of the wholly corrupt, and terror supporting Palestinian militias.
The same was the case when then prime minister Ehud Barak went to Camp David five years ago and begged Arafat to establish a state on all of Gaza, 95 percent of Judea and Samaria and in east Jerusalem, including Judaism's most sacred site of the Temple Mount and then threw in land in the Negev for good measure.
After Arafat tore up Barak's offer and went to war against Israeli civilians, Barak declared that now the Europeans and the Americans, and of course the Israeli Left, would accept the truth. Arafat and the PLO had been unmasked. As PA minister for Jerusalem affairs, Faisal Husseini admitted shortly before his death at the end of 2000, Oslo had been a "Trojan horse," brought in to destroy Israel from inside.
All was known, and yet the image creators and their eager audiences from London to the State Department refused to budge. As the dozens of Israelis murdered became hundreds, and then topped 1,000, with thousands more wounded and maimed, the Palestinians remained the victims, and Israel remained the aggressor.
Now, as Israel approaches the final phase of the withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria, we are told again, this is the test for the Palestinians. They have sovereign territory now in Gaza. They will be forced to instill order. They can no longer claim victim status. We are no longer there. And yet the images this week tell us, again, that this is untrue. On Wednesday, Arafat's nephew and security boss Moussa Arafat was murdered in Gaza by a mob of terrorists with automatic rifles and RPG. His son was kidnapped and is now assumed dead. The perpetrators were the Popular Resistance Committees. This is a terror group formed by Arafat in the months ahead of the war in the spring of 2000 that includes elements of Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Members of the group also serve in the official Palestinian militias.
This challenge to the Palestinian Authority's leadership was met with listless protestations by the likes of Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei. In the same manner, Palestinian forces stood by on Tuesday as hundreds of young men and teenage boys descended on the ruins of Neveh Dekalim and threw stones and attempted to mount an IDF tank. It was an act of pure aggression, meant not to destroy the tank but to create an image of Israeli aggression on the one hand, and fecklessness on the other.
After one of the attackers was killed by the tank, the Palestinians launched rockets at civilians by Kibbutz Yad Mordechai which borders northern Gaza. The press explained the story as a cycle of violence. But there was no cycle of anything, just an escalation of Palestinian violence, from throwing rocks at a tank to shooting mortars at civilians.
For Europeans and leftists in Israel and America, no matter what the Palestinians do, the images emanating from here will be interpreted as justification for further Israeli land giveaways in light of continued Palestinian victimhood.
For Arab audiences, in Palestine -- nee Gaza -- in Judea and Samaria and throughout the Arab world, the pictures emanating from here will tell two stories. The first is of Jewish ruthlessness and cruelty that justifies the continued massacre of Israeli civilians. The second image is one of Israeli weakness in the face of constant terror -- of Israel falling apart. This image sends a message saying that momentum is on the terrorists' side. All they need to do to bring about the destruction of Israel is continue their terrorist war of attrition.
For most Israelis, the images tell a different tale completely. The images expose the transformation of Gaza into a new Afghanistan replete with warlords who terrorize their people and their neighbors; a society embroiled in chaos; and a society where Islamic fascists have the upper hand over simply corrupt, secular murderers.
The great challenge of Israel is to meet the false images portrayed by those who cling to their mendacious "narratives" of the Palestinian war against Israel with truthful ones.
Tuvia Grossman made aliya on Wednesday. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, he said, "You don't realize how many people's lives have been affected forever from terrorist attacks. Some people are wounded for the rest of their lives. Once I get settled in, I would love to assist victims of terror in any way I can."
Grossman's story, both his victimization and his stubborn loyalty and love for the Land of Israel that motivated him to return here and build a life of giving despite his terrifying experience, is the story of the Jewish people and of the Jewish state. It is this truth we must uphold and contrast against the barbarism of our enemies if we do not wish for their false images to become our reality.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: The below Jerusalem Post editorial, written just one day after the destruction of the synagogues of Gaza became a fait accompli, comments upon the fact that even the United States government strives mightily to help the “Palestinian” Arabs retain, at all costs, their misbegotten halo of Victimhood. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Hold Palestinians accountable
(Jerusalem Post, September 13, 2005) Israelis awoke yesterday to the news that the gates to Gaza had been ceremoniously shut, and that the Palestinians' joyous burning of Gush Katif's synagogues, which the cabinet had voted not to destroy, had begun. We were also informed that the US State Department had criticized the [Israeli] cabinet decision not to destroy the synagogues because it "put the Palestinian Authority into a situation where it may be criticized for whatever it does."
It is never exactly clear when a State Department spokesman says something like this whether he or she is ad-libbing or whether a particular pearl has been cleared at the [American] cabinet level. Either way, however, such statements are instructive because they either reflect a conscious, high-level decision or are considered so uncontroversial that a low-level official can say them without fear of contradiction.
In this case, the uncontroversial notion is evidently that the problem is not Palestinian savagery but Israel's refusal to spare the world images of it. Regardless of how Israeli decision makers expected the Palestinians to behave, Israel's decision not to destroy the synagogues gave the Palestinians the opportunity to exceed rock-bottom expectations.
Would the Palestinian Authority be "criticized" if it had decided to spare a single former synagogue from the raging mobs, perhaps for use as a library, or for some international aid agency? Is the idea of sparing a former place of worship of another religion so foreign that it cannot even be asked for, let alone expected?
The unwritten script here is that nothing more can be expected from the Palestinians because, after all, they are enraged by 38 years of Israeli presence in Gaza. This ignores both the questions of why Israel was there in the first place, and why Israel was targeted for destruction before it set foot in Gaza. But it also papers over the real source of Muslim rage: the reigning intolerant interpretation of Islam.
Despite attempts to explain it away as a benign form of striving, the
Arab-Islamic notion of jihad remains essentially unchanged since Ibn Khaldun
described it in 1406: "holy war is a religious duty ... to convert
everybody to Islam either by persuasion or force." Only Islam, he added,
"is under obligation to gain power over other nations."
This has been reflected in a "what's mine is mine, what's yours is mine" approach that we see dominates Palestinian thinking. It goes without saying that no Jew, building, or grave must remain in Gaza, as much as it does that Israel must treat its own million-strong Arab minority with utmost respect.
Yet if there is ever going to be peace between Arabs and Israelis, not to mention an end to the wider jihad against America, such attitudes must be broken. Far from criticizing Israel from having the temerity to hope that Palestinians might spare a synagogue, the US should be vocally rejecting the rampant intolerance in the Muslim world for non-Muslim power, freedom, and rights.
President George W. Bush has rightly played the democracy card in the Arab world generally and concerning Palestinians in particular. To his unending credit, he has sometimes done so much more boldly than Israel, leading to the irony that Natan Sharansky's ideas have been more influential in Washington than Jerusalem.
What the US has not done is confronted Arab rejectionism of Israel and rampant anti-Semitism with equal moral clarity. Bush has not said, in so many words, that the source of the conflict is not just the Arab democracy deficit, or even the lack of a Palestinian state, but the still reigning idea among Arab governments, masses, and elites that Israel has no right to exist.
The State Department's revealing reaction to the synagogue decision and its consequences shows that attempts to triangulate around the real sources of the conflict remain entrenched in the foreign policy establishment, even in Washington.
Israel's withdrawal was not yet a day old when the first post-disengagement Palestinian mortar landed in Sderot [a Jewish town within Israel’s 1949 armistice demarcation lines]. If Washington is not quick to hold the Palestinian Authority responsible for such attacks, and demand effective action, disengagement will have been for naught and terrorism will escalate again. Now is not the time for evenhandedness, but for holding the Palestinians accountable for their actions.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: I disagree with the above editorial’s analysis in one important respect. The editorial opines that the destruction of Gaza’s synagogues is merely symptomatic of general Muslim intolerance for all things non-Muslim. The proposition that Muslim hatred for all things Jewish is merely a subset of Muslim hatred for all things non-Muslim is demonstrably false. The clearest proof of this can be discerned from the invasion and capture by Jordan (then known as Transjordan) of the Old City of Jerusalem in 1948. First, the Jordanians massacred and expelled all of the Jewish residents of the Old City. Yet, they spared the Christian residents thereof. Next, the Jordanians desecrated and razed all 58 of the synagogues in the Old City and vandalized 75% the Jewish gravestones on the nearby Mount of Olives. Yet, they protected all of the churches and Christian cemeteries that came under their control. This is not to say that the minority Christian Arab population residing in Palestinian Authority-controlled portions of Judea and Samaria has not suffered mistreatment, from time to time, at the hands of the majority Muslim Arab population residing there. In fact, due to such periodic persecutions and the gradual Christian exodus that has resulted therefrom, cities such as Bethlehem and Ramallah have been transformed from mostly Christian Arab towns into mostly Muslim Arab towns. Nonetheless, the majority Muslim populace in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas has not perpetrated either any genocide of Christian Arabs or any wholesale destruction of Christian places of worship and cemeteries. Consequently, the editorial, perhaps without so intending, obscures the fact that Arab Muslim hatred for the Jew stands far above Arab Muslim hatred for any other non-Muslim.]
[Yet, it is nonetheless certainly true that the nations of the World -- especially those which comprise the lands of Christendom -- are so determined to help the “Palestinian” Arabs retain their misbegotten collective halo of Victimhood that that they, as well as the entire spectrum of international “human rights” organizations (such as Amnesty International, Christian Aid, Oxfam and Human Rights Watch), purposefully ignore atrocities that the majority “Palestinian” Muslim Arabs periodically perpetuate against the minority “Palestinian” Christian Arabs. For, to do otherwise, would force the nations and the international “human rights” community to view -- and to treat – (Muslim) “Palestinians” as oppressors. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Muslims ransack Christian village
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
(Jerusalem Post, September 5, 2005) Efforts were under way on Sunday to calm the situation in this Christian village east of Ramallah after an attack by hundreds of Muslim men from nearby villages left many houses and vehicles torched.
The incident began on Saturday night and lasted until early Sunday, when Palestinian Authority security forces interfered to disperse the attackers. Residents said several houses were looted and many families were forced to flee to Ramallah and other Christian villages, although no one was injured.
The attack on the village of 1,500 was triggered by the murder of a Muslim
woman from the nearby village of Deir Jarir earlier this week. The 30-year-old
woman, according to PA security sources, was apparently murdered by members of
her family for having had a romance with a Christian man from Taiba.
"When her family discovered that she had been involved in a forbidden relationship with a Christian, they apparently forced her to drink poison," said one source. "Then they buried her without reporting her death to the relevant authorities."
When the PA security forces decided to launch an investigation into the woman's death, her family protested for fear that the relationship would be exposed. The family was further infuriated by the decision to exhume the body for autopsy.
The attack is one of the worst against Christians in the West Bank in many years. Residents said it took the PA security forces several hours to reach Taiba. Others complained that the IDF, which is in charge of overall security in the area, did not answer their desperate calls for immediate help.
"More than 500 Muslim men, chanting Allahu akbar [God is great], attacked us at night," said a Taiba resident. "They poured kerosene on many buildings and set them on fire. Many of the attackers broke into houses and stole furniture, jewelry and electrical appliances."
With the exception of large numbers of PA policemen, the streets of Taiba were completely deserted on Sunday as the residents remained indoors. Many torched cars littered the streets. At least 16 houses had been gutted by fire and the assailants also destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary.
"It was like a war, they arrived in groups, and many of them were holding clubs," said another resident.
"Some people saw them carrying weapons. They first attacked houses belonging to the Khoury family [looking for the man who had the affair with the woman, not realizing he had already fled the village.] Then they went to their relatives. They entered the houses and destroyed everything there. Then they tried to enter the local beer factory, but were repelled by PA security agents. The fire engine arrived five hours later."
Col. Tayseer Mansour, commander of the PA police in the Ramallah area, said his men arrived late because of the need to coordinate their movements with the IDF.
"The delay resulted in the torching of a number of houses and cars in
the village," he said.
Taiba, the only West Bank village that is completely inhabited by Christians, is famous for its Taiba Beer factory, which was established by the Khoury family in 1994.
The residents are Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox or Greek Catholic. The village was originally called Ephraim, and is thought to be the city to which Jesus came with his disciples before his crucifixion: "Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim" (John 11:54).
According to some accounts, Salah a-Din (Saladin), who led the war against the Crusaders, was responsible for the name change. He is said to have found the villagers there to be nice and kind -- in Arabic, taybeen -- and the name stuck, to become Taiba.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
Away from the manger -- a Christian-Muslim divide
By Khaled Abu Toameh
(Jerusalem Post, October 26, 2005) Tourists and pilgrims who visited Bethlehem over the past decade or so must have run into Farid Azizeh, a Christian businessman who, together with his wife, ran a small coffee shop on Manger Square.
The couple was famous for the fresh orange juice and Turkish coffee they used to serve to their customers. On the eve of the Millennium, many foreign journalists who converged on Bethlehem turned the place into a makeshift media center.
Azizeh's coffee shop was among the few businesses in Bethlehem that had remained open after the intifada began in September 2000. "The situation will one day return to normal," he once said when asked about the new cycle of violence. "One day there will be peace here because this is the city of peace and the birthplace of Jesus."
But life will never return to normal for Azizeh, who for many years served as a member of the Bethlehem municipal council.
About three years ago, unidentified gunmen opened fire at Azizeh's car on one of the main streets of the city, hitting him in the head. Shortly after the attack, and with the help of Israeli friends, he was transferred to Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem, where doctors managed to save his life. However, several surgeries failed to save his eyesight.
Since then, the coffee shop has closed and Azizeh, who was known as a socialite, rarely leaves his home.
Azizeh's attackers remain at large, although their
identity is known to many. Only days before the shooting, Azizeh
had refused to withdraw a complaint he had filed against a Muslim driver who
killed two of his relatives in a car accident. The driver's family is said to
have sought the help of local Fatah militiamen in "persuading" Azizeh to back off.
Regardless of the motive, the case of Azizeh, 72, is seen by many Christians in the context of a campaign allegedly waged by Muslims against the Christian minority in the city. Azizeh, they argue, would not have been targeted had he belonged to one of the large and influential Muslim clans in Bethlehem.
"The Christians here are perceived as easy prey," complains a prominent Christian businessman. "In recent years there has been an upsurge in the number of attacks on Christians in Bethlehem."
Muslim and Christian political leaders in the city strongly deny the
existence of an organized anti-Christian campaign, insisting that the violence
is mostly the result of "personally motivated" disputes that are
unrelated to religion. The victims of crime include both Muslims and
Christians, they add, accusing Israel and Jewish organizations of spreading
lies about "Muslim persecution" of Christians.
"Reports of Muslim attacks on Christians are wildly exaggerated and you should be careful not to play into the hands of the Israeli propaganda machine," advises Omar al-Khatib, the imam of a mosque in Bethlehem. "Relations between Muslims and Christians have never been better."
Yet off the record, many Christians in Bethlehem who were interviewed during the past week expressed deep concern over increased attacks by Muslims on members of their community. Moreover, most of them said that they were seriously considering moving to the US, Canada and Latin America, where many of their relatives already live.
Jihad, a Christian merchant from the nearby town of Beit Jala, who has been dealing in antique furniture for over 30 years, says he is planning to leave for good to Chile, where at least 80,000 of his townsfolk now live. "There are less than 10,000 Christians living in Beit Jala today," he explains. "There's no future here because of the deteriorating economic conditions."
His friend, George, who used to own a souvenir shop, says he's planning to move next week to Peru, where his brothers and sisters have been living for the past 15 years. The two, who asked to be identified only by their first names, are extremely cautious when the issue of Muslim-Christian relations is raised. "It's true that there have been a number of cases of violence against Christians, but generally speaking the situation is not that bad," George stresses.
Other Christians in Beit Jala disagree. According to a local physician, the plight of the Christians has been aggravated over the past decade in general and since the outbreak of the intifada in particular. "After the Palestinian Authority arrived here in 1995, many Muslim families from Hebron and other parts of the West Bank have moved to Beit Jala," he says. "What's worrying is that some of them have illegally seized privately-owned lands. When one of the Christian owners refused to sell his land to a senior Palestinian security official, he was arrested for a number of days."
In another case, a 60-year-old Christian man was briefly detained by one of the Palestinian security forces because he had forbidden his daughter to date a Muslim security officer. Other Christians who tried to stop Fatah gunmen in Beit Jala from firing into the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo in the first years of the intifada later reported that they had been beaten or threatened by the gunmen.
The same gunmen are also responsible for the rape and murder of two Christian teenage sisters from the Amr family. The assailants then claimed that the sisters had been murdered because they were "prostitutes" and had been "collaborating" with Israeli security forces -- a claim that has been strongly denied by the victims' relatives and many residents of the town. "The gangsters murdered the two sisters so that they would not tell anyone about the rape," says a family member. "Some of the murderers were later killed by the Israeli army, but others are now living in Europe after they had sought refuge in the Church of Nativity. It's absurd that Muslim men who rape and murder Christian girls are given political asylum in Christian countries like Ireland, Spain and Italy."
Last week Beit Jala was once again the scene of religious tensions after a Christian woman complained that she had been harassed by Muslim men from the village of Beit Awwa in the Hebron area. "Such incidents have become a daily phenomenon," says Mary, who runs a small grocery in the town. "Many Christian families have sent their daughters abroad for fear they would come under attack by Muslim men."
Earlier this year tensions between Muslims and Christians in Bethlehem reached a peak after a Christian family complained that their 16-year-old daughter had been kidnapped by a Muslim man. Following the intervention of senior Palestinian officials and Muslim leaders, the girl was reunited with her family after spending a few days in a village near Hebron. With the help of American diplomats, the girl was flown immediately to the US to begin a new life with relatives and friends.
Some Christians point a finger at the foreign media and diplomatic missions
in Israel, accusing them of ignoring their predicament for
"political" reasons. "Although most of the foreign journalists
and diplomats are Christians, they don't seem to pay enough attention to what's
happening to the Christians in Bethlehem," says Bishara,
a Christian tourist guide. "They're obviously afraid of damaging their
relations with the Palestinian Authority."
While it's almost impossible to find a Christian who's prepared to go public in airing such grievances, Samir Qumsiyeh, a journalist from Beit Sahur, is a notable exception. Last month he was quoted by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera as saying that Christians were being subjected to rape, kidnapping, extortion and expropriation of land and property.
Qumsiyeh, who was not available this week for an interview because he was out of the country, heads a local TV station called Al-Mahd [Nativity]. In a daring step, Qumsiyeh drew up a list of 93 cases of anti-Christian violence between 2000 and 2004.
"This file is incomplete and it's not up-to-date," he told the Italian newspaper. "Look at the case of Rawan William Mansour, a 17-year-old girl from Bet Sahur. She was raped two years ago by four members of Fatah. Even though the family protested, none of the four was ever arrested. Because of the shame her family was forced to move to Jordan.
"Almost all 140 cases of expropriation of land in the last three years were committed by militant Islamic groups and members of the Palestinian police." Qumsiyeh said he was now preparing a book on the conditions of the Christian minority. "I will call it 'Racism in Action,'" he says. "The racism against us is gaining pace in staggering ways. In 1950 the Christian population in Bethlehem was 75%. Today we have hardly more than 12% Christians. If the situation continues, we won't be here any more in 20 years."
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: “Palestinian” Christian Arabs constituted approximately 20% of the Arab population of Judea, Samaria and Gaza at the end World War II. They presently constitute less than 2% of the Arab population in those areas. Ironically, the only place in the Middle East where the resident Christian Arab population is not being persecuted and is actually increasing in number is Israel.]
Gazans warn pope to accept Islam
[Muslim mobs attack Christian churches in Judea and Samaria]
By Khaled Abu Toameh
(Jerusalem Post, September 19, 2006) Citing the words of the Prophet Muhammad, Muslim religious leaders in the Gaza Strip on Sunday warned Pope Benedict XVI that he must "accept" Islam if he wanted to live in peace.
The warning, the first of its kind, came as many Christians in the West Bank expressed anger over a spate of attacks on churches in protest against remarks made by the pope about the Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad.
Two more churches in the West Bank were targeted on Sunday in protest against the pope's remarks, bringing to seven the number of churches that have been attacked over the past three days.
In Tulkarm, arsonists set fire to the only Orthodox church in the area, causing heavy damage to the 150-year-old structure. Local residents said the attack occurred shortly after 4 a.m, when a number of assailants forced their way into the church and tossed several fire bombs into the building.
Some Christian families said they were living in fear because of the attacks and called on the Palestinian Authority to do its utmost to protect churches and Christians.
At a press conference in Gaza City, a number of Muslim clerics said the pope's statements were "the result of his hatred for Islam, and not the result of ignorance."
One of them, Dr. Imad Hamto, called on the pope to "repent and ask for forgiveness." He added: "We want to use the words of the Prophet Muhammad and tell the pope: 'Aslim Taslam'" Aslim Taslam is a phrase that was taken from the letters sent by the Prophet Muhammad to the chiefs of tribes in his times in which he reportedly urged them to convert to Islam to spare their lives.
Some Muslim scholars, however, have endorsed a more moderate interpretation of the term, arguing that its real meaning was that those who surrendered to the Will of God would find peace.
Hamto and his colleagues accused Christians of "resorting to the power of the sword in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine."
They also called on the pope to direct his words to the Jews who, they claimed, were "spreading corruption and destruction."
(©) The Jerusalem Post
Terror group threatens Gaza Christians
By Khaled Abu Toameh
(Jerusalem Post, September 20, 2006) A previously unknown group calling itself the Huda [Guidance] Army Organization threatened on Tuesday to target all Christians living in the Gaza Strip unless Pope Benedict XVI apologized for his remarks against Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.
"We will target all Crusaders in the Gaza Strip," the group said in a leaflet, "until the pope issues an official apology." The group also threatened to attack churches and Christian-owned institutions and homes.
"All centers belonging to Crusaders, including churches and institutions, will from now on be targeted," it said. "We will even attack the Crusaders as they sit intoxicated in their homes." The group said preparations had been completed "to strike at every Crusader and infidel on the purified land of Palestine."
It also threatened "to strike with an iron fist anyone who dares to defend the Crusaders." The latest threat is the second of its kind against Christians in the Gaza Strip over the past few days.
Earlier, another anonymous group calling itself the Army of the Sword of the Right also threatened to attack Christians and churches in the Gaza Strip in response to the pope's remarks. The group also claimed responsibility for an attack on a church in Gaza City. At least seven churches in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been torched or shot up in recent days.
At least 4,500 Christians live in the Gaza Strip among more than 1.3 million Muslims. A Christian leader in Gaza City told The Jerusalem Post that his community was taking the latest threats very seriously.
"We have appealed to the Palestinian Authority for protection," he said. "Christians here are keeping a very low profile and many of them would like to leave the area out of fear for their lives."
On Sunday, a number of Muslim clerics in the Gaza Strip warned the pope that he must convert to Islam if he wanted to be spared. The clerics called on all Palestinians to observe a "day of rage" against the pope next Friday by staging demonstrations in the streets and holding public rallies. They also condemned the attacks on the churches in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
Bethlehem Christians claim persecution
By Khaled Abu Toameh
(Jerusalem Post, January 25, 2007) BETHLEHEM - A number of Christian families have finally decided to break their silence and talk openly about what they describe as Muslim persecution of the Christian minority in this city.
The move comes as a result of increased attacks on Christians by Muslims over the past few months. The families said they wrote letters to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the Vatican, Church leaders and European governments complaining about the attacks, but their appeals have fallen on deaf ears.
According to the families, many Christians have long been afraid to complain in public about the campaign of for fear of retaliation by their Muslim neighbors and being branded "collaborators" with Israel.
But following an increase in attacks on Christian-owned property in the city over the past few months, some Christians are no longer afraid to talk about the ultra-sensitive issue. And they are talking openly about leaving the city.
"The situation is very dangerous," said Samir Qumsiyeh, owner of the Beit Sahur-based private Shepherd TV station. "I believe that 15 years from now there will be no Christians left in Bethlehem. Then you will need a torch to find a Christian here. This is a very sad situation."
Qumsiyeh, one of the few Christians willing to speak about the harsh conditions of their community, has been the subject of numerous death threats. His house was recently attacked with fire-bombs, but no one was hurt.
Qumsiyeh said he has documented more than 160 incidents of attacks on Christians in the area in recent years.
He said a monk was recently roughed up for trying to prevent a group of Muslim men from seizing lands owned by Christians in Beit Sahur. Thieves have targeted the homes of many Christian families and a "land mafia" has succeeded in laying its hands on vast areas of land belonging to Christians, he added.
Fuad and Georgette Lama woke up one morning last September to discover that Muslims from a nearby village had fenced off their family's six-dunam plot in the Karkafa suburb south of Bethlehem. "A lawyer and an official with the Palestinian Authority just came and took our land," said 69-year-old Georgette Lama.
The couple was later approached by senior PA security officers who offered to help them kick out the intruders from the land. "We paid them $1,000 so they could help us regain our land," she said, almost in tears. "Instead of giving us back our land, they simply decided to keep it for themselves. They even destroyed all the olive trees and divided the land into small plots, apparently so that they could offer each for sale." When her 72-year-old husband, Fuad, went to the land to ask the intruders to leave, he was severely beaten and threatened with guns.
"My husband is after heart surgery and they still beat him," Georgette Lama said. "These people have no heart. We're afraid to go to our land because they will shoot at us. Ever since the beating, my husband is in a state of trauma and has difficulties talking."
The Lamas have since knocked on the doors of scores of PA officials in Bethlehem seeking their intervention, but to no avail. At one stage, they sent a letter to Abbas, who promised to launch an investigation.
"We heard that President Mahmoud Abbas is taking our case very seriously," said Georgette Lama. "But until now he hasn't done anything to help us get our land back. We are very concerned because we're not the only ones suffering from this phenomenon. Most Christians are afraid to speak, but I don't care because we have nothing more to lose."
The couple's Christian neighbor, Edward Salama, said the problem in the city was the absence of law and order. "We are living in a state of chaos and lawlessness," he said. "The police are afraid of the thugs who are taking our lands."
Salama expressed deep concern over the conditions of Christians in Bethlehem, noting that many were leaving the country as a result of the deterioration.
"When I see what's happening to Christians here, I worry a lot for our future," he said. "They are targeting Christians, because we are seen as weak."
The Lamas said they decided to go public with the hope that the international community would intervene with the PA to halt the land-grab. "We will fight and fight until we recover our land," Fuad Lama said. "We will resort to the courts and to the public opinion for help.
"Unfortunately, Christian leaders and spokesmen are afraid to talk about the problems we are facing. We know of three other Christian families --Salameh, Kawwas and Asfour -- whose lands were also illegally seized by Muslims."
A Christian businessman who asked not to be identified said the conditions of Christians in Bethlehem and its surroundings had deteriorated ever since the area was handed over to the PA in 1995.
"Every day we hear of another Christian family that has immigrated to the US, Canada or Latin America," he said. "The Christians today make up less than 15 percent of the population. People are running away because the Palestinian government is not doing anything to protect them and their property against Muslim thugs. Of course not all the Muslims are responsible, but there is a general feeling that Christians have become easy prey."
(©) The Jerusalem Post
FROM WND'S JERUSALEM BUREAU
Christians warned: Accept Islamic law
'New Hamas rule means real changes,' missionaries to be 'dealt with harshly'
Posted: June 19, 2007 1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Aaron Klein
JERUSALEM – Christians can continue living safely in the Gaza Strip only if they accept Islamic law, including a ban on alcohol and on women roaming publicly without proper head coverings, an Islamist militant leader in Gaza told WND in an exclusive interview.
The militant leader said Christians in Gaza who engage in "missionary activity" will be "dealt with harshly."
The threats come two days after a church and Christian school in Gaza was attacked following the seizure of power in the territory by the Hamas terror group.
"I expect our Christian neighbors to understand the new Hamas rule means real changes. They must be ready for Islamic rule if they want to live in peace in Gaza," said Sheik Abu Saqer, leader of Jihadia Salafiya, an Islamic outreach movement that recently announced the opening of a "military wing" to enforce Muslim law in Gaza.
Jihadia Salafiya is suspected of attacking a United Nations school in Gaza last month, after the school allowed boys and girls to participate in the same sporting event. One person was killed in that attack.
"The situation has now changed 180 degrees in Gaza," said Abu Saqer, speaking from Gaza yesterday.
"Jihadia Salafiya and other Islamic movements will ensure Christian schools and institutions show publicly what they are teaching to be sure they are not carrying out missionary activity. No more alcohol on the streets. All women, including non-Muslims, need to understand they must be covered at all times while in public," Abu Asqer told WND.
"Also the activities of Internet cafes, pool halls and bars must be stopped," he said. "If it goes on, we'll attack these things very harshly."
Abu Saqer accused the leadership of the Gaza Christian community of "proselytizing and trying to convert Muslims with funding from American evangelicals."
"This missionary activity is endangering the entire Christian community in Gaza," he said.
Abu Saqer claimed there was "no need" for the thousands of Christians in Gaza to maintain a large number of institutions in the territory.
About 2,000 Christians live in the Gaza Strip, which has a population of over 1 million.
Abu Saqer said Hamas "must work to impose an Islamic rule, or it will lose the authority it has and the will of the people."
His comments come after gunmen Sunday attacked Gaza's Latin Church and adjacent Rosary Sisters School, reportedly destroying crosses, bibles, pictures of Jesus and furniture and equipment. The attackers also stole a number of computers.
The attack was the first targeting of Christian institutions since Hamas last week staged a coup against the rival Fatah party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, seizing all Fatah positions and security compounds, essentially taking complete control of the Gaza Strip.
Hamas officials in Gaza claimed to WND Fatah was behind Sunday's church attack in an attempt to discredit Hamas to the international community.
Abu Saqer claimed he had "good information" the attack actually was a robbery aimed at the church's school computers, even though Bibles and Christian holy objects were destroyed.
Christians, secular institutions targeted
Israel evacuated the Gaza Strip in 2005. Since then, there have been a slew of attacks there against Christians and non-Muslims.
A month before the U.N. school was targeted, Palestinians bombed a Christian book store in Gaza reportedly funded by American Protestants that exclusively sold Christian books. Two nearby Internet cafes also were bombed.
At the time, Abu Saqer, who didn't take credit for the attack, told WND the Christian bookstore was "proselytizing and attempting to convert our people."
"As a principle, we believe that Jews and Christians will always do everything in order to keep Muslims far from their religion," Abu Saqer said.
Even before Hamas took over Gaza last week, some analysts here called the recent bombings of secular and Christian institutions in the territory indications Hamas may be seeking to impose Islamic rule on the Palestinian population.
Israeli officials said Hamas in 2005 established hard-line Islamic courts and created the Hamas Anti-Corruption Group, described as a kind of "morality police" operating within Hamas' organization. Hamas has denied the existence of the group, but it recently carried out a high-profile "honor killing" widely covered by the Palestinian media.
A Hamas-run council in the West Bank came under international criticism last year when it barred an open-air music and dance festival, declaring it was against Islam.
'West can learn from Islamic values'
In response to the uproar, Hamas chief in Gaza and former foreign minister Mahmoud al-Zahar told WND in a recent interview: "I hardly understand the point of view of the West concerning these issues. The West brought all this freedom to its people but it is that freedom that has brought about the death of morality in the West. It's what led to phenomena like homosexuality, homelessness and AIDS."
Asked if Hamas is seeking to impose hard-line Islamic law on the Palestinians, al-Zahar responded, "The Palestinian people are Muslim people, and we do not need to impose anything on our people because they are already committed to their faith and religion. People are free to choose their way of life, their way of dress and behavior."
Al-Zahar said his terror group, which demands strict dress codes for females, respects women's rights.
"It is wrong to think that in our Islamic society there is a lack of rights for women. Women enjoy their rights. What we have, unlike the West, is that young women cannot be with men and have relations outside marriage. Sometimes with tens of men. This causes the destruction of the family institution and the fact that many kids come to the world without knowing who are their fathers or who are their mothers. This is not a modern and progressed society," al-Zahar explained.
The terror chieftain told WND that the West can learn from his group's Islamic values.
"Here I refer to what was said in the early '90s by Britain's Prince Charles at Oxford University. He spoke about Islam and its important role in morality and culture. He said the West must learn from Islam how to bring up children properly and to teach them the right values."
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com
Gaza: Christian-Muslim tensions heat up
Khaled Abu Toameh , THE JERUSALEM POST Sep. 25, 2007
An attack on an 80-year-old Christian woman in Gaza City has triggered renewed fears among the Gaza Strip's 2,500-strong Christian community.
Claire Farah Tarazi was the latest victim of anti-Christian attacks that have increased in the Gaza Strip since Hamas took full control of the area in June.
Leaders of the Christian community condemned the assault and appealed to Hamas to make an effort to protect Christians.
Tarazi said a masked man dressed in black clothes had knocked on her door late at night and demanded all her money.
"He was carrying a club and a sharp tool," she said. "As soon as I opened the door, he pushed me inside and shouted: 'Where is the money, you infidel?' I shouted back: 'I'm not an infidel - I'm a proud Palestinian Arab.'"
Tarazi said the assailant had beaten her on her hands with the club, demanding that she hand over all her money and jewelry.
"I was so terrified that I gave him two golden bracelets, a cellphone and a few hundred shekels," she said. "But the man said this was not enough and hit me hard on the head with a tool he was carrying until I started bleeding." He then locked her in her bedroom and started searching the house for money and valuable items, she added.
"After he left the house, I managed to open another door into the bedroom he hadn't noticed," she said. "Then I went to the neighbors and asked for help."
Tarazi's relatives told The Jerusalem Post it was evident that she had been targeted because of her faith.
"The fact that the attacker called her an infidel speaks for itself," one of them said. "He clearly knew that this was a Christian woman living alone. He would not have dared to do the same thing to a Muslim woman."
Representatives of various women's groups in the Gaza Strip who visited Tarazi expressed shock and called on the Hamas government to halt attacks on Christians. They expressed concern over increased attacks on Christians in light of the absence of law and order in the Gaza Strip.
The assault on the elderly Christian woman is the latest in a series of attacks against Christians over the past few months. Since the Hamas takeover, a Christian school and a church have been targeted by Muslims.
Father Manuel Musalam, leader of the small Latin community in the Gaza Strip, said masked gunmen torched and looted the Rosary Sisters School and the Latin Church.
"The masked gunmen used rocket-propelled grenades to storm the main entrances of the school and church," he said. "Then they destroyed almost everything inside, including the cross, the holy book, computers and other equipment."
Musalam expressed outrage over the burning of copies of the Bible, adding that the gunmen destroyed all the crosses inside the church and school.
"Those who did these awful things have no respect for Christian-Muslim relations," he said.
Musalam estimated damages at more than $500,000.
"Those who see the destruction will realize how bad this attack was," he said. "Christians have been living in peace and security with Muslims for many years, but those who attacked us are trying to sabotage this relationship."
(©) The Jerusalem Post
Palestinian Christian found dead in Gaza
Khaled Abu Toameh , THE JERUSALEM POST Oct. 7, 2007
The body of a Christian official who was kidnapped over the weekend was discovered in Gaza City early Sunday, Palestinian sources said.
The man was identified as Rami Ayyad, 31, director of The Teacher's Bookshop, which is operated by the Palestinian Bible Society.
Although no group claimed responsibility for the murder, a number of Christians in Gaza City told The Jerusalem Post that Ayyad had received several death threats in the past from radical Muslims who accused him of conducting missionary activities.
His bookshop and the Palestinian Bible Society had been the target of repeated attacks over the past two years.
They noted that attacks on members of the 2,500-strong Christian community in the Gaza Strip had increased in recent months, especially since Hamas took full control over the area.
Two weeks ago, an elderly Christian woman living in Gaza City was beaten and robbed by a masked man who accused her of being an "infidel."
In Bethlehem, Palestinian Authority police are investigating last week's stabbing of a 27-year-old Christian man, who was seriously injured.
Shortly after the Hamas takeover, a local Christian school and a monastery were looted and set on fire.
News of Ayyad's murder shocked members of his family and friends and raised fears that the Hamas government, despite repeated promises, was not able to protect the local Christian community.
Ayyad went missing over the weekend and his family and friends rushed to lodge a complaint with the Hamas security forces.
Ihab Ghissin, spokesman for the Hamas Interior Ministry, which is responsible for security, said the body was discovered in an agricultural field known as Dunum Abu Daf near the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City.
He refused to specify the cause of death, only saying that the body had been transferred to a local hospital for a forensic examination. However, Palestinian reporters told the Post that Ayyad had been fatally stabbed.
"This despicable crime won't pass without punishment of the perpetrators," Ghissin said. "We will pursue all those involved in this case and make sure that they are severely punished."
Copyright 1995- 2007 The Jerusalem Post
'Christian groups in PA to disappear'
By Etgar Lefkovits
(Jerusalem Post, December 4, 2007) The ever-dwindling Christian communities living in Palestinian-run territories in the West Bank and Gaza are likely to dissipate completely within the next 15 years as a result of increasing Muslim persecution and maltreatment, an Israeli scholar said Monday.
"The systematic persecution of Christian Arabs living in Palestinian areas is being met with nearly total silence by the international community, human rights activists, the media and NGOs [non-governmental organizations]," said Justus Reid Weiner, an international human rights lawyer in an address at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, where he serves as a scholar in residence.
He cited Muslim harassment and persecution as the main cause of the "acute human rights crisis" facing Christian Arabs, and predicted that unless governments or institutions step in to remedy the situation -- such as with job opportunities -- there will be no more Christian communities living in the Palestinians territories within 15 years, with only a few Western Christians and top clergymen left in the area.
"Christian leaders are being forced to abandon their followers to the forces of radical Islam," Weiner said.
Facing a pernicious mixture of persecution and economic hardships as a result of years of Palestinian violence and Israeli counter-terrorism measures, tens of thousands of Christian Arabs have left the Palestinian territories for a better life in the West, in a continuing exodus which has led some Christian leaders to warn that the faith could be virtually extinct in its birthplace in a matter of decades.
The Palestinian Christian population has dipped to 1.5 percent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, down from at least 15% a half century ago, according to some estimates.
No one city in the Holy Land is more indicative of the great exodus of Christians than Bethlehem, which fell under full Palestinian control last decade as part of the Oslo Accords.
The town of 30,000 is now less than 20% Christian, after decades when Christians were the majority. Elsewhere in the Palestinian territories, only about 3,000 Christians, mostly Greek Orthodox, live in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, out of a strongly conservative Muslim population of 1.4 million.
"In a society where Arab Christians have no voice and no protection it is no surprise that they are leaving," he said.
In his address, Weiner pointedly downplayed the effects that Israeli security measures, such as the security barrier being built between Israel and the West Bank, have had on the Christian Arabs living in the West Bank.
The barrier, which is especially conspicuous at the entrance to Bethlehem where it is a concrete wall, is an issue which many
Palestinian Christian clerics have pointed to, along with the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as a central cause of Christian
Weiner argued there was a "180 degree difference" between the public statements coming out of the mainstream Christian leadership in the Holy Land -- who "sing the PA's tune" and blame Israel for all the Christian Arabs' ills -- and people's experience on the ground.
"The truth is beginning to come out," he said. "The question is what is being done with the truth."
His comments come just months after a prominent Christian activist, Rami Khader Ayyad, 32, was killed in Gaza.
"For too long the plight of Christian Arabs has been put on the back-burner or ignored altogether," said Rev. Malcolm Hedding,
executive director of the International Christian Embassy, a Jerusalem-based evangelical organization.
The Evangelical leader, who has drawn the wrath of Catholic leaders in the Holy Land for his strong support for Israel, said that "power politics" has prevented the major Christian leaders in the Holy Land from speaking out on this issue.
"There is a one-sided debate in which Israel is responsible for everything," he said. "The Christian world needs to stand up and speak out about this."
(©) The Jerusalem Post
(Jerusalem Post, December 5, 2007) It's highly doubtful that Dr. Justus Reid Weiner's chilling forecast of the impending demise of Christian communities under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction will generate much outrage or uproar in Christendom.
If, as expected, it fails to do so, it will be more than a shame. At the very least, Weiner's words of warning ought to ring powerful alarm bells among overseas coreligionists of local Christians.
As reported in Tuesday's Jerusalem Post, Weiner -- a human rights lawyer and scholar-in-residence at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs -- painted a bleak picture of the travails of the PA's fast-dwindling Christian enclaves. He went on to predict that in some 15 years, Muslim harassment and hounding will lead to the disappearance of these communities. Christian presence will shrink to be a smattering of westerners, assorted clerics and church representatives, but grassroots Christian-Arabs will have dispersed.
An ongoing exodus is already under way, as many thousands of Christians emigrate to the West.
Only 50 years ago, Christians accounted for 15 percent of the population in the same PA areas in which they today make up no more than 1.5%. Weiner pointed to Bethlehem as the ultimate touchstone. Not too long ago a city with a solid Christian majority, it is now over 80% Muslim, with its Christian component continuing to shrivel in direct correlation to increasing Muslim pressure.
All this fits too snugly for comfort into the international pattern of an intolerant, aggressive and expansionist Islam. The takeover of Bethlehem recalls Islamists' openly aggressive stance against other religions shown by the blasting of Afghanistan's giant Buddhist monuments or the wanton disregard of the threat to antiquities demonstrated by the Muslim Wakf's myriad construction schemes on the Temple Mount.
Trying to survive under the Muslim thumb, PA Christians keep a low profile, strive to give no offense and often even toe the most
extremist Arab line to evince loyalty and remove the threat from themselves. Many publicly blame Israel for their plight, while murmurs of protest against Islamic domination grow ever-fainter, presumably for fear of making things even worse for beleaguered Christians.
The silence of Christian Arabs and Christians abroad in the face of the desecration of Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity by Muslim terrorists who invaded it a few years back was a case in point. Israel was condemned for seeking to remove the raiders, when it was the violent intruders who should have been denounced. Fanatical Arabs are dreaded. Israelis are not.
This pattern persists. Weiner noted that Bethlehem's ills are often ascribed to the security fence, because church representatives "sing the PA's tune" and are quick to censure Israel for everything.
The temptation to do so will increase in the Advent to Christmas, whose celebration in Bethlehem will to no small extent depend on the goodwill of Muslim PA overlords, who make a point of attending the midnight mass each year, all but appropriating the festivities. The grand entries made by Yasser Arafat have still not faded from memory; nor has the empty seat left posthumously for him in the Church of the Nativity, as if elevating him to singular spiritual status.
Like Arafat, his successor Mahmoud Abbas often poses in the guise of Christianity's protector, implying that it, along with Islam, is menaced by Judaism. Yet false and brazen though this cynical affectation is, it goes unquestioned in most of the world. This year, post-Annapolis, this sham has taken on particular significance.
Abbas has just demanded Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice lines, promising "religious freedom and full access to sites of
worship to all faiths." Such promises, however, were already part and parcel of the 1949 armistice, though brutally violated and never complied with for a day. No fewer than 58 synagogues in Jerusalem's Old City -- some ancient and highly important -- were razed. Tombstones from the ancient Jewish Mount of Olives Cemetery were ripped out and used to pave public latrines. No Israelis could pray at the Western Wall, Rachel's Tomb or the Cave of the Patriarchs.
Present-day vandalism on the Temple Mount augurs ill for recycled guarantees. The unfortunate odds are that freedom of worship under Palestinian rule would be as hollow a pledge as it was under Jordanian occupation.
This is something for world Christians to reflect upon during this holy season, as eyes again turn to Bethlehem. Arab disrespect for Jewish rights is the lot of Christians here as well.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
Bethlehem beyond the Christmas calm
By LELA GILBERT
(December 24, 2007) Just a few days before Christmas, as I walked around Bethlehem on a Sunday morning, the lyric "All is calm, all is bright" drifted into my mind. It was a calm, bright day -- windy, with a ridge of purple rain clouds gathering on the horizon. There had been tension in the air during my last visit to Bethlehem, soon after the Hamas takeover in Gaza. But now any sense of apprehension seemed to have vanished.
I was in the company of "Stefan," an Arab Christian, who serves as a visitors' guide. He was quick to point out, as we passed through the checkpoint, his grievances against the Israeli security fence, the inconvenience of ID checks and the required work permits. As a resident of Jerusalem, he has free passage back and forth, but was still indignant about the checkpoint.
My question was probably a little too direct. "Isn't the checkpoint here to stop suicide bombers from getting into Jerusalem?"
"Bombs!" he growled. "Do they think we're stupid? If I wanted to take a bomb in I'd just go out of town another way, where there isn't a checkpoint." Then he added, "Look, I'm a Christian and we aren't bombers. But if we were, we wouldn't be crazy enough go through a checkpoint!"
"So it's possible to come and go from Bethlehem without passing through a checkpoint?"
"Of course! There are many ways in and out of Bethlehem. You just have to know where you're going."
Stefan was right. The last two suicide bombers that struck Jerusalem came from Bethlehem and had reached their targets through a then-unguarded back road. In fact more than half the terrorists who struck Jerusalem in 2005 came from or through Bethlehem. Reportedly, since its installation the security barrier has decreased by more than a 90% the number of suicide bombings.
Stefan talked a little about the difficulties confronting Bethlehem businesses. Once again he revisited the Israeli security issues -- how merchants are suffering because of them. Then he went on to say that Muslims are moving into the city, "more of them all the time," he told me. "More and more Muslims are coming in," he repeated, "and more and more Christians are leaving. They're going out of business and leaving the country. It's too hard to make a living here."
MY JUNE visit to Bethlehem had fallen on a weekday when Manger Square was completely empty. I remember watching trash blowing across the pavement and a few birds squawking over a crust of bread. Now church bells pealed and there was hardly a parking place to found. Merchants were unshuttering their shops as men in keffiyahs and scarved women strolled up the hill toward the market. Stefan and I, going in the opposite direction, made our way alongside families and clusters of friends. One by one we bent over to enter the Door of Humility leading inside the Church of the Nativity.
Incense filled the warm air inside, and colorful lights and candles illuminated the Greek Orthodox service. I glanced around recalling that this very church had been seized by terrorists in May 2002. In a bitter siege during which [Muslim] Arab gunmen held dozens of Christian nuns, priests, monks and pilgrims hostage for weeks. In disbelief these Christians watched act after act of wanton destruction as the terrorists looted historic icons, confiscated gold and silver sacred vessels, urinated against the walls, and otherwise demolished and desecrated the holy site.
Now, almost five years later, ancient chants echoed, and downstairs, in the Grotto where tradition says Jesus was born, more candles blazed as a small gathering of Italian Catholics prayed. Next door, the Roman Catholic service was just beginning, and there was standing room only as the cross was carried in procession toward the altar.
THE CATHOLIC liturgy began and a spirit of reverence fell across the room, interrupted only as a handful of professional photographers scurried around on the periphery of the crowd. While the Gospel was read and the response sung, I reflected on this faithful Catholic congregation. They may be leaving town, I thought, but they haven't stopped worshipping together.
Until recent years Christians have enjoyed relative prosperity in Bethlehem as well as in other West Bank municipalities. Today they are departing in record numbers while Muslims are moving into their houses and businesses. Do these newcomers imagine they will have better luck in the shadow of the fence? Won't the security measures handicap their commercial efforts too? A closer look at the facts suggests that the fence and other Israeli security procedures are not the real reason Bethlehem's Christians are struggling, despairing and fleeing.
IN 1948, Bethlehem was a largely Christian community, with Christians comprising an estimated 85 percent of the population. Today, that percentage has shrunk to something closer to 12 per cent. Until the Palestine Authority took over the control of the city in 1994, Bethlehem thrived alongside Jerusalem. The roads in and out of the city were lined with shops and markets, and residents came and went freely. All that began to change during the first intifada, with stone-throwing incidents gradually escalating into shootings, assaults, and torched cars.
Later, during the second intifada, security became a matter of life and death once suicide bombings were introduced. These attacks ultimately led to the construction of the controversial security barrier.
Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and no friend of Israel, wrote in late 2006, "I have spent the last two days with fellow Christian leaders in Bethlehem; there are some signs of disturbing anti-Christian feeling among parts of the Muslim population, despite the consistent traditions of coexistence. But their plight is made still more intolerable by the tragic conditions created by the 'security fence' which almost chokes the shrinking town..." He went on to speak of dramatic poverty, soaring unemployment and practical hardships.
In actual fact, the Archbishop's carefully crafted phrase, "some signs of disturbing anti-Christian feeling" falls woefully short of telling whole story.
In an 2005 interview with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JPCA), Steven Khoury, of Bethlehem's First Baptist Church, reported that the church had been attacked by Muslims from a nearby refugee camp "with Molotov cocktails 14 times. Our church vans have been burned. The church was broken into and defaced with graffiti five times." Others have reported the shooting of the Baptist Church's pastor.
In 2006, the UK's Daily Mail reported on the struggle of two Christians from the Bethlehem suburb of Beit Jala who were facing continuous persecution for their faith. George Rabie, a cab driver, said that he had been beaten by a gang of Muslims visiting from nearby Hebron, angered by the crucifix hanging on his windshield, and that he experiences persecution "every day." Jeriez Moussa Amaro told the Daily Mail that his two sisters Rada, 24, and Dunya, 28, had been shot dead by Muslim gunmen. "Their crime was to be young, attractive Christian women who wore Western clothes and no veil." A terrorist organization, al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades [the “military wing” of Fatah], claimed responsibility for Amaro's sisters' murder.
OVERT violence isn't the only difficulty faced by Christians in areas under the Palestinian Authority. In recent weeks, Ramallah pastor Isa Bajalia, an American Christian of Arab descent, stated publicly that he has been threatened by a Palestinian Authority official, who demanded he pay $30,000 in protection money to ensure his safety. On November 11, Fox News reported, "Pastor Isa Bajalia is legally blind, yet he was also told by the official he would be crippled for life. The trouble started after church members held a prayer session for several Palestinians. Bajalia says he has been under surveillance and receiving threats." Isa Bajalia has since fled Ramallah.
Among the compiled JCPA interviews of West Bank Christians are reports of extortion by Arab Muslims, demands for protection money, seized properties, vandalized homes and shops, widespread rape of Christian girls, honor killings, and murders of converts to Christianity from Islam.
In July 2007, Rami Khader Ayyad, 32, a Palestinian Christian bookstore owner who had received repeated threats was found stabbed to death in a street in Gaza City. "I expect our Christian neighbors to understand the new Hamas rule means real changes," commented Sheikh Abu Sakir, leader of Jihadia Salfiya, an Islamic outreach movement. "They must be ready for Islamic rule if they want to live in peace in Gaza."
In a recent briefing, Justus Reid Weiner, Resident Scholar of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs reported, "The growing strength of Islamic fundamentalism within the Palestinian national movement poses problems for Christians, who fear they will be deemed opponents of Islam and thereby risk becoming targets for Muslim extremists. This is exacerbated by the fact that Hamas holds substantial power and seeks to impose its radical Islamist identity on the entire population within the P.A.-controlled territories."
Weiner later told me, "Now that donors have pledged $7.4 billion to the PA, perhaps it is time that strings were attached to this enormous influx of money. Those strings should include, among other things, a demand for provision and protection for the Christian minority in the Palestinian Territories."
In June, my son took a photograph of two little Bethlehem boys proudly waving a Hamas flag at us as we passed them in the street. Now Palestinian flags flutter above the marketplace while PA policemen keep a close eye on the city square. In a cafe, a tiny Christmas tree's ornaments gleam red and green as a Muslim family shares a late morning meal of falafel and hummus. Stefan and I walk to the car, quickly pass through the checkpoint, and are soon driving along bustling Emek Refaim. As Jerusalem's shoppers browse and chat and drink coffee, a relentless population exchange continues just 10 minutes down the road. Amidst this calm, bright Christmas season, Bethlehem Christians are quietly packing and moving away.
The writer has authored or co-authored more than 60 books, primarily in the field of ecumenical Christian non-fiction. Her work includes the recently released biography Baroness Cox: Eyewitness to a Broken World and the award-winning Their Blood Cries Out, co-authored with Paul Marshall. She is also an Adjunct Fellow at the Center for Religious Freedom, Hudson Institute.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
Gunmen explode YMCA library in Gaza
JPost.com Staff, THE JERUSALEM POST Feb. 15, 2008
A band of 14 masked gunmen forced its way into YMCA [Young Men’s Christian Association] offices in the Gaza Strip and exploded a library there, Israel Radio reported Friday.
Thousands of books were reportedly burnt in the ensuing fire. The YMCA in Gaza also operates a gym and a wedding hall.
The gunmen laid a second explosive device near a computer in the library but it failed to detonate. Two security guards on the scene were not able to block the intruders; they were taken by them from the YMCA and later released in the northern Gaza Strip.
The latest incident is another link in an ongoing chain of attacks against Palestinian Christians which has worsened since Hamas took power of the Gaza Strip last June.
However, Christians in the West Bank were not faring much better and the Christian population in both territories has been continually dwindling.
The Palestinian Christian population has dipped to 1.5% of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, down from at least 15% a half century ago, according to some estimates. No city in the Holy Land is more indicative of the Christian exodus than Bethlehem, which fell under full Palestinian control last decade as part of the Oslo Accords. The town of 30,000 is now less than 20% Christian, after decades during which Christians were the majority. Elsewhere in the PA territories, only about 3,000 Christians, mostly Greek Orthodox, live in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, among a strongly conservative Muslim population of 1.4 million.
Etgar Lefkovits contributed to this report
Copyright 1995- 2008 The Jerusalem Post
Analysis: Cruelty and silence in Gaza
By Jonathan Spyer
(Jerusalem Post, December 12, 2008) Unremarked upon by the Western media, a systematic campaign of persecution is taking place in the Gaza Strip, and to a lesser extent in the West Bank. The general silence surrounding this campaign aids its perpetrators. The victims are Palestinian Christians, in particular the small Christian community of Gaza.
The perpetrators are a variety of Islamist groups, all of which are manifestations of a process of growing Islamic militancy and piety taking place across the region.
The Christian population of the Gaza Strip is small - 2,000-3,000 people. Gazan politics has long been characterized by a conservative, Islamic bent. Gaza's Christians as a result have tended toward political invisibility.
Since the Hamas coup of July 2007, this position has become increasingly untenable. Islamist organizations, empowered by the indifference of the authorities, have begun to target Christian institutions and individuals in Gaza with increasing impunity. Intimidation, assault and the threat of kidnapping are now part of daily reality for Christians.
The trend became noticeable with a series of attacks on the Palestinian Bible Society's "Teacher's Bookshop" in Gaza City last year. The shop was the subject of a bomb attack in April 2007. Its owner, Rami Khader Ayyad, was abducted in broad daylight, and found dead on October 7, 2007.
Over the following year, a series of bomb attacks on Christian institutions in Gaza took place. Particular attention was paid to places of education. The Rahabat al-Wardia school run by nuns in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City, and the American International School in Beit Lahiya were both bombed, most recently in May 2008. The Zahwa Rosary Sisters School and the El-Manara school, both in Gaza City, were also attacked this summer. The YMCA Library was bombed, as was the Commonwealth War Cemetery.
Most of these attacks took place at night, and hence casualties were avoided. In a number of cases guards were the victims of violence.
Who is carrying out these attacks? The perpetrators are thought to be Salafi Islamist groups like Jaish al-Islam, Jaish al-Uma and similar organizations. The larger Popular Resistance Committees terror group has also stated that the Christian presence in Gaza should be eradicated, since it exposes Gazans to a pro-Western, anti-Islamic influence.
Where are the Hamas authorities in all this?
Hamas is officially committed to tolerance toward the Christian community, and spokesmen for the authorities have criticized the attacks. In practice, however, only superficial investigations have taken place, and arrests are rare. In the few cases where arrests have been made, the suspects were not charged and were quickly released. This was the case, for example, with two members of the Jaish al-Islam who were suspected of involvement in the YMCA bombing.
The persecution of Christians is not emerging from a small Islamist fringe. Rather, it is part of a larger process of Islamization taking place in Palestinian society. The rise of Hamas is part of this.
But the cadres of the divided Fatah movement are not immune. The Popular Resistance Committees group, for example, noted above for its anti-Christian stance, was founded by ex-Fatah officers who sought an organization reflecting their religious zeal.
The situation in the West Bank is different, reflecting the larger Christian population and the greater strength of secular forces. Yet here, too, anti-Christian trends are serving to embitter lives.
A recent article in the Palestinian Al-Ayyam newspaper drew attention to the long-simmering issue of "compulsory purchase" of land owned by Christians. This trend has been particularly noticeable in the Bethlehem, Ramallah and al-Bireh areas. Individuals with close links to the Palestinian Authority security forces, or to powerful clans, have adopted a variety of means to lay their hands on Christian-owned land. These have included false registration documents, squatters, and the involvement of senior PA security officers.
The Al-Ayyam columnist who raised this issue, Abd al-Nasser al-Najjar, lamented that no "constructive action" by the authorities to protect the Christians has taken place. Najjar listed the PA authorities, the Palestinian political factions, and the myriad of NGOs present in the West Bank among the bodies who might have been expected to take an interest in this situation, and who have not done so.
The official bodies of Palestinian nationalism continue to claim that the Palestinians are a single nation, with harmony between Christians and Muslims. The official leadership of Palestinian Arab Christianity repeats this claim.
Meanwhile, on the ground, Palestinian Christians are fearful, and are voting with their feet. Bethlehem, for example, has seen its Christian population decline from a 60 percent majority in 1990 to under 20% of the population today. The small and harassed Christian community of Gaza may simply cease to exist in the near future.
These events reflect broader regional processes. Their failure to become known is also part of a larger trend. The foreign media, NGOs on the ground and some Western political leaderships prefer to foster a version of events in the West Bank and Gaza based on illusion and willful ignorance of the evidence. The slow death of an ancient community is one of the fruits of this.
The writer is a senior researcher at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
'Hamas disinters Christians in Gaza'
By Matthew Wagner
(Jerusalem Post, December 15, 2009) Every three minutes a Christian is being tortured in the Muslim world, and in 2009 more than 165,000 Christians will have been killed because of their faith, most of them in Muslim countries, according to a human rights organization that is visiting Israel starting Sunday.
"Hamas digs up the bodies of Christians from Christian burial sites in the Gaza Strip claiming that they pollute the earth," said Reverend Majed El Shafie, President of One Free World International (OFWI), who will head a delegation of human rights activists, members of parliament from Canada and religious personalities.
During their visit to Israel the delegation will hold a conference on human rights and persecuted minorities at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem. The conference will provide new statistics on the persecution of minorities in Muslim countries.
El Shafie said that between 200-300 million Christians are being persecuted in the world, 80 percent of whom lived in Muslim countries and the rest in communist and other countries.
Members of the delegation will meet with Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Danny Ayalon and Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat in the hope of enlisting Israel to champion their cause.
OFWI is a human rights organization whose headquarters are located in Toronto, Canada. The organization numbers some 3,000 members, divided into 28 branches that are active in countries all over the world, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and even Iran.
El Shafie, 32, was born in Cairo to a distinguished Muslim family of lawyers and judges. Through a Christian friend he was exposed at an early age to hatred toward the Christian minority in Egypt.
He decided to convert to Christianity, wrote a book about it and as a result became an outcast and a victim of oppression.
In 1998 he was arrested, imprisoned, tortured and condemned to death.
El Shafie managed to escape, fled to the Sinai, where a Beduin family hid him for two months, and crossed the Israeli border on a jet-ski. He was arrested in Israel and was imprisoned for over a year in Beersheba [due to his illegal entry and obvious suspicions that he might be a terrorist], until he was released through the assistance of the UN, Amnesty International and the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, which managed to obtain political asylum for El Shafie in Canada, where he emigrated. He founded OFWI in 2004.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: In Gaza, Muslim thugs kidnap Christians and forcibly convert them to Islam. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Gaza Christians protest 'kidnapping' of young man
Ma’an News Agency July 17, 2012
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Christians in the Gaza Strip staged a sit-in protest on Monday after the family of a young man said he was being forced to convert to Islam by an armed group, Ma'an's correspondent said.
Dozens of Christians protested in the Orthodox church in Gaza City, claiming that a Christian man and two girls had been kidnapped. A Muslim association said they had converted to Islam of their own free will.
Greek Orthodox Archbishop Alexios said Ramiz al-Amash had been kidnapped by an Islamist group on Saturday after attempts to force him to convert from Christianity to Islam, and he was prevented from calling his family.
The Palestinian Islamic Scholars Association in Gaza said al-Amash had been working to convert to Islam for over five months but had simply declared his faith on Saturday.
A woman, Huda Abu Dawoud Hilal, also declared her conversion last week and she is being sheltered for her own protection, the association said, stressing that it would not stop their family visiting.
Archbishop Alexios said al-Amash's parents "went to the police to lodge a complaint about the kidnapping of their son, but they did nothing."
Al-Amash's mother became sick and had to be taken to hospital. The family managed to contact the kidnappers and they took Ramiz to see her surrounded by three jeeps filled with gunmen. They then took him away again to an unknown location.
"There are some groups trying to persuade young Christians to convert to Islam. They abduct them away from their parents and their families, they threaten them," he said.
Archbishop Alexios called on officials to intervene to stop abductions, stressing that there has been a good relationship between Muslims and Christians over the past years.
Hamas government spokesman Ayman Batniji said there had been no kidnappings in Gaza, adding that police in the coastal enclave have the utmost respect for Christians.
Meanwhile, West Bank Archbishop Atalla Hana called for certain groups in Gaza to stop provoking discord and treating Christians as not as patriotic as Muslim Palestinians.
He urged the Gaza government to take serious action so Christians will not be vulnerable to such attempts.
There are around 3,000 Christians in the Gaza Strip, in a population of 1.6 million people.
Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh said last year that Muslims and Christians in Gaza have "one goal and a common destiny."
All Rights Reserved © Ma'an News Agency 2005 - 2012
[Note: In Gaza, not only do Muslim “Palestinians” persecute Christian “Palestinians”, but Muslim “Palestinians” even persecute other Muslim “Palestinians”. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Shia group 'attacked by police' in Gaza
Published 17 January 2012
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A group of Shiite worshipers say masked police violently raided a religious service in the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday, prompting furious denials by the Hamas-dominated government in the territory.
Around 20 followers of the Shia branch of Islam were performing a ceremony for Ashura, the commemoration of the death of Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein, when masked police stormed the private home in Beit Lahiya, they told Palestinian human rights groups.
Security officers beat the worshipers with clubs, and took them for interrogation at a police station where they were further assaulted, they told the Gaza-headquartered Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
Several sustained fractures and bruises from the beating and were taken to Balsam and Kamal Odwan hospitals, PCHR said.
The Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights said that upon leaving the hospital, they were handed notifications to go to the interior security headquarters in northern Gaza.
A Shiite man, who asked to be referred to as M. M., told Ma'an on Sunday "to be assaulted by Hamas security is outrageous because we are not against the law, we respect it."
"These rites concern freedom of religion ... we are Muslims like all the people in Gaza."
The Shia will continue exercising their religious rites, which they are proud of, he said.
Another Shiite man, using the name Abu Zeinab, said security forces dispersed the religious ceremony after alleging it did not have the proper license, but denied the group were assaulted.
Hamas officials initially refused to comment on the matter, and said Sunday they considered the account to be a fabrication by Ma'an.
On Monday, the Gaza interior ministry published a press statement denying the account relayed by human rights groups.
"Police tracked an illegal group with corrupted views that were planning to commit crimes," the ministry said in its version of the Saturday night raid.
The ministry also said Palestine is a Sunni country where Shiism does not exist.
"We respect all the doctrines around the world, especially the Shiite school, and we don’t intervene in what they believe and we don’t want them to intervene in our beliefs as well," the statement said.
While vowing to study allegations of human rights abuse, the interior ministry warned human rights groups to consult official sources and not believe just any account of events.
The ministry also called on the media to work for positive national goals.
PCHR urged the Gaza government to open an investigation into "the use of excessive force by the security officers ... and to bring the perpetrators to justice."
The raid broke Palestinian laws on freedom of belief and expression, and a prohibition on raiding private homes without a judicial order, Al Mezan said.
Meanwhile, M. M. told Ma'an that Shiites would "complain about Hamas to Iran, which supports the movement in Gaza."
Abu Zeinab complained that Iran did not offer sufficient support for Shiites in Gaza. While the Shia are harassed by Hamas, they faced worse suppression under Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority rule prior to the 2007 split between the governments, he added.
Hamas premier in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh is due to visit Iran in early February. The Sunni group is believed to receive considerable support from the Shia power, but the uprising in Syria, Iran's regional ally, has strained their historic ties.
All Rights Reserved © Ma'an News Agency 2005 - 2012
[Note: Gaza severely persecutes its women. However, the World pays scant attention to it, because it is not Israel doing the persecuting. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Violence up against Gaza women up under Hamas
By RACHELLE KLIGER The Media Line news agency
(Jerusalem Post, January 5, 2010) The vast majority of Gazan women face violence, a new survey has
The study, by the Gaza-based Palestinian Women's Information and Media Center, found that violence against women in Gaza has increased since Hamas took over Gaza in a June 2007 coup and Israel subsequently imposed restrictions on the Strip.
The study found that 77.1 percent of Gazan women have experienced violence of various sorts, with almost half experiencing violence of more than one type.
A quarter of the women questioned said they do not feel safe in their own homes because of violence, and more than a third said they were unable to fight back as they had more urgent priorities.
Sixty-seven percent of the women surveyed said they had encountered verbal violence, 71% mental violence, 52% physical violence and more than 14% sexual violence.
"I think the levels [of violence] are higher than they were in the Gaza Strip in previous years and compared to other countries, the rates are certainly higher," Huda Hamouda, director of the PWIC said. "It's hard to imagine a family living in dignity when seven family members are living on less than three dollars a day.
"Many say they suffer from disrespect and deprecation," Hamouda said. "There's also domestic violence, which is committed by relatives such as the father, the brother or the husband."
Women are exposed to hardships in every sphere, be it financial, social, political or lack of security, she said.
"There's widespread unemployment and the number of female workers has gone down," Hamouda explained. "It was 14.5% [female employment] in 2006 and now it's less than 10%."
The organization's researchers conducted interviews with 350 women from different districts of the Gaza Strip during the last quarter of 2009.
According to the report, almost two-thirds of the women who were interviewed were the breadwinners in their families, and about the same number were dependent on handouts from international aid organizations.
Some 31% of women who are or were married were either divorced or said their husbands were threatening to divorce them because of the financial situation.
"[Poverty] affects education and public participation," Hamouda said. "It limits their social standing. Add to that the social norms that prevail in society preventing women's freedom and covering up the violence. The authorities impose this culture."
The women's rights advocate said the Hamas government is trying to impose a certain ideology, which includes forcing women to wear the hijab (religious head covering), implying that this has eroded the standing of Gazan women.
"They're imposing their directives and they're encountering opposition from certain groups, human-rights organizations and unions," Hamouda said. "It's understood that in society there is no pluralism or freedom of thought. It's one side imposing its understandings on those under its control."
In June 2009, the Hamas chief justice prompted a public outcry when he decreed that female lawyers must wear the hijab in court. Recently the Hamas religious police have reprimanded women for dressing in what they considered to be immodest clothing and instructed beach-goers to cover up.
Hamas denies it is imposing strict religious laws in the Gaza Strip, but anecdotal evidence suggests the Gazan population is becoming more religious.
A Gazan woman working in the private sector said it was important to realize the feeling of intimidation was not necessarily representative of all women in Gaza.
"I don't cover my hair and I don't feel intimidated or scared to walk in the street," she said. "Maybe it's because I live in the city in an area where all the international organizations work. It would depend on the level of income, the level of education and the environment surrounding of these women. I'm one of hundreds of thousands and I could be an exception."
Palestinian women's rights activists have told The Media Line that domestic violence is not tackled adequately by the Palestinian Police, who often turn a blind eye to such complaints.
There are few shelters for battered women in the Palestinian territories.
Hamouda said laws to combat violence against women were lax and contributed to a culture of impunity for perpetrators, especially in relation to "honor killings," in which women accused of bringing dishonor to the family are killed by relatives. Such killings usually involve women suspected of socializing with men who are not their husbands or relatives.
"The authorities do punish them but they have a weak law," Hamouda said. "When it comes to so-called honor crimes, the articles of the criminal laws still mete out mitigated sentences to the perpetrators."
The organization is trying to increase awareness of violence against women and make it a higher priority for rights organizations, civil society organizations and political factions.
"We want them to help women participate in public life and make this an important part of their strategy, not just a political slogan," she said.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: The World assists the “Palestinians” in maintaining their misbegotten collective halo of Victimhood by condemning -- as the illegal use of “disproportionate force” -- all military actions by Israel intended to defend its own civilian population centers. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Civil Fights: The canard of 'disproportionate force'
By Evelyn Gordon
(Jerusalem Post, March 7, 2008) International denunciations of Israel came thick and fast this week. The EU's rotating president, Slovenia, condemned the "disproportionate use of force by the Israeli Defense Forces against the Palestinian population in Gaza." UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon slammed Israel's "excessive and disproportionate" response to Palestinian rocket attacks. Even the US State Department urged Israel to "exercise caution to avoid the loss of innocent life," which is merely a milder version of the same premise: that Israel is to blame for all Palestinian civilian casualties, either because it uses "disproportionate force" or because it exercises insufficient "caution." Yet media reports on the fighting in Gaza reveal that in fact, the blame frequently lies with Palestinian behavior.
Take, for example, an Israeli air strike that killed two Palestinian teenagers last Wednesday. According to The New York Times, "witnesses in Gaza told the Palestinian news media that the civilians were hit while standing at a launching site watching Hamas militants firing rockets." There can be no more justified military activity than targeting terrorists in the very act of firing rockets at civilians. If that is "disproportionate," all military activity is. Moreover, since Hamas eschews uniforms, the IDF has no way to distinguish rocket crews from civilians who are cheering them on. Thus any civilian who rubbernecks at a rocket launch is clearly and deliberately putting himself in danger -- which in itself should absolve Israel of responsibility.
BUT MORE importantly, for that very reason, most armed forces do not allow civilians in firing zones. The IDF, for instance, generally declares active combat areas "closed military zones" from which Israeli civilians are legally barred, and it enforces such orders. Other Western armies do the same.
But Hamas needs civilian casualties to fuel Palestinian and international anger at Israel. So rather than barring civilians from its launch zones, it welcomes them. And if they do not volunteer for the victim's role, it co-opts them -- as happened last weekend: "Palestinian gunmen took up positions in homes while the civilians were still inside," Haaretz reported.
Firing back at people who are shooting at you is also clearly legitimate military activity; no law of war obligates soldiers to let themselves be mown down without a fight just because there are civilians nearby. Moreover, soldiers have no way of knowing whether the civilians have fled or are still inside a house; all they can be certain of is the presence of gunmen.
Under such circumstances, civilian casualties are inevitable. But those casualties are not caused by "disproportionate force" or insufficient "caution"; they are the direct result of Hamas's decision to use civilian homes, with the people still inside, as bases for targeting Israeli soldiers.
Moreover, civilians are not always innocent. Those whose homes were invaded by Hamas were presumably unwilling hostages. But some Palestinians voluntarily serve as "human shields" for terrorists -- and by actively aiding and abetting terror, they turn themselves into combatants.
In one widely publicized case in November 2006, for instance, the IDF, seeking to avoid civilian casualties, announced two planned air strikes 30 minutes in advance to enable civilians to leave. Instead, Hamas used the loudspeakers of local mosques to urge civilians to flood the area and serve as human shields. Hundreds did so, and the IDF -- precisely because Israel tries to avoid civilian casualties -- consequently aborted the strikes. Yet these civilians were hardly "innocent": They deliberately intervened in an armed conflict on the terrorists' behalf.
What is most noteworthy about such incidents, however, is what they say about the Palestinian claim -- mindlessly parroted by the international community -- that the IDF fires indiscriminately, without regard for civilians. In fact, Hamas summoned civilian reinforcements precisely because it knew a civilian presence would prevent the air strikes. And the civilians came for the same reason -- not because they sought death, but because they knew the IDF would not shoot them.
IN ANOTHER incident that same month, hundreds of Palestinian women purposely entered a combat zone to shield gunmen besieged by IDF soldiers. Again, they were deliberately abetting combatants. And again, they knew they could do so safely, because the IDF would not shoot them. And indeed, the soldiers held their fire as the wanted men escaped by mingling with the crowd.
In July 2006, The New York Times described another Gaza battle as follows: "[Israeli] soldiers fired at groups of armed Palestinians who fought in the streets, sometimes surrounded by curious and excited children." Why any parent would let his children outside during a gunfight is a mystery. But unless these parents were deliberately sacrificing their children for propaganda purposes, such behavior demonstrates a truly extraordinary faith in the IDF's efforts to avoid harming civilians.
Contrast this with Palestinians' behavior when the combatants are not Israelis. During last May's Hamas-Fatah infighting, for instance, the Times reported: "The streets of Gaza City were empty except for the gunmen, with shops shuttered and residents remaining indoors, usually in interior rooms farthest from the windows." No "curious and excited" children surrounding the gunmen in these battles: Gazan parents who trusted the IDF with their children's lives evidently placed no similar reliance on Palestinian forces.
THE MEDIA reports above, and numerous others like them, make three things clear: (1) Palestinians know full well that Israel strives to avoid civilian casualties; indeed, as their behavior demonstrates, they count on this. (2) Palestinian civilians frequently deliberately put themselves in the line of fire -- either to help the combatants, or, like those "excited children," merely to cheer them on. (3) Palestinian terror groups deliberately foster casualties among their own civilians: Not only do they not discourage civilians from entering combat zones; they force them to do so -- for instance, by invading civilian homes -- when there are no volunteers.
In short, Palestinian civilian casualties usually result not from "disproportionate force" or "insufficient caution" by the IDF, but from Palestinian behavior, on the part of both civilians and terrorists.
But of course, realizing this would require actually reading reports of the fighting. It is much easier just to skim the headlines and issue stock condemnations of Israel.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: “Moderate” Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas helps the “Palestinians” to perpetuate their misbegotten collective halo of Victimhood by falsely accusing Israel of expelling “Palestinian” Arabs from Jerusalem. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Civil Fights: Meet the world's most incompetent ethnic cleansers
By Evelyn Gordon
(Jerusalem Post, March 20, 2008) It is hard to decide which aspect of Mahmoud Abbas's recent "ethnic cleansing" accusation is more worrying: what it reveals about him, or what it reveals about the world's willingness to tolerate even the vilest and most obviously nonsensical slanders against Israel.
Addressing the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Dakar last Thursday, the Palestinian Authority chairman declared: "Our people in the city [of Jerusalem] are facing an ethnic cleansing campaign through a set of Israeli decisions such as imposing heavy taxes, banning construction and closing Palestinian institutions, in addition to separating the city from the West Bank by the racist separation wall."
If Jerusalem's Arabs are facing ethnic cleansing, then Israelis are surely the most incompetent ethnic cleansers in human history. After all, ethnic cleansing usually aims at removing an unwanted population and substituting your own nationals.
But according to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics and the Jerusalem Institute of Israel Studies, Jerusalem's Arab population skyrocketed 266 percent between 1967, when Israel annexed east Jerusalem, and 2006 (the last year for which figures are available). That is almost double the Jewish population's growth during those years (143 percent); consequently, the city's ratio of Jews to Arabs shrank from 74:26 in 1967 to 66:34 in 2006.
Even during the intifada, which prompted the fence and the closed institutions that Abbas decries, the Arab population continued
ballooning: It rose from 208,700 at the end of 2000 to 252,400 at the end of 2006, an increase of 21 percent in six years, or 3.5 percent a year. Jerusalem's Jewish population grew by only 4.7 percent during those years, or less than 1 percent a year. In absolute terms, the Arab increase (43,700 people) was double the Jewish increase (21,100).
Nor was the Arab growth solely due to natural increase: Ziad al-Hamouri, who heads the Jerusalem Center for Economic Rights, estimates that some 30,000 Arabs have moved to Jerusalem since construction of the fence began; others put the figure even higher.
IF ABBAS is truly unaware of these very well-publicized facts, this casts doubt on his viability as a negotiating partner. Since any deal must be rooted in reality, it is hard to negotiate with someone who remains determinedly ignorant even about "core issues" such as Jerusalem. But more importantly, how can you trust the good faith of someone who has no qualms about accusing you of one of the most heinous crimes in the modern lexicon without even bothering to check his facts? Almost certainly, however, Abbas does know the facts. After all, both Palestinians and Israelis frequently cite east Jerusalem's Arab majority to support Palestinian claims to part of the city.
But in that case, the question becomes even more troubling -- because how can you trust the moderation, good faith and peaceful intentions of someone who has no qualms about publicly accusing you of such a heinous crime even knowing that it is false? Bluntly, this was nothing less than deliberate incitement against Israel, in a forum guaranteed to receive maximum coverage in the Arab world.
Nor was this a one-time aberration. Just last month, for instance, Abbas told the Jordanian daily Al Dustour: "At this time, I object to the armed struggle, since we are unable to conduct it; however, in future stages things may change." Yet if his only reason for opposing armed struggle is that he currently believes he cannot wage it successfully, that is hardly reassuring, as this reason would disappear following a peace agreement: With the IDF gone from the West Bank and Jordan border, Palestinians could easily import quantities of sophisticated arms and plan attacks unhindered.
THEN THERE was the PA's rejection in December of a French proposal, backed by senior UN officials, for a UN resolution mandating educational activities to support the peace process. The proposal would have amended an existing resolution that requires teaching about alleged Israeli crimes against the Palestinians, thereby fostering hatred rather than reconciliation. Yet Abbas evidently prefers fostering hatred.
It is hard to imagine anything more innocuous, or more vital to the success of the process, than peace education. If Abbas cannot even agree to that, one has to wonder about his commitment to peace.
There are numerous similar examples, such as his June 2006 charge that Israel was seeking to "eliminate the Palestinian people." Never mind that, by the PA's own figures, the Palestinian population of the territories has quadrupled under Israeli rule - including a 34 percent increase in the past decade alone.
But perhaps even more worrying than Abbas's statements is the world's response. Not a single international leader bothered to condemn last week's ethnic cleansing accusation. Nor did anyone condemn his Al-Dustour remarks, his rejection of the peace education resolution, or any of his other less-than-moderate statements and actions.
Given the world's fixation with resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, its reluctance to acknowledge that Abbas may be miscast as a peacemaker is understandable. Yet by tolerating such blatant incitement, the international community further undermines the prospects for peace.
First, such remarks scarcely encourage Israelis to believe that Abbas is acting in good faith, which is an obvious prerequisite for Israeli consent to any agreement. For that reason alone, the world should be interested in condemning such remarks.
Far more important, however, is the message this sends to Palestinians. If Abbas can hurl such vicious and patently false accusations at Israel without even a pro forma protest from world leaders, that tells Palestinians that willingness to live in peace with Israel is not necessary to retain international support. If the world has no objection to even the most vicious Palestinian incitement -- despite knowing that such incitement routinely leads to actual violence -- then it clearly cares nothing about peace; what it cares about is satisfying Palestinian demands.
That, in turn, encourages Palestinians to believe that eventually, the world will force Israel to accede to these demands even without peace -- thereby obviating any need to stop the violence or make the kind of concessions negotiated agreements always entail. And as long as they believe this, peace will remain a distant dream.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: The “Palestinians” are so determined to maintain their misbegotten halo of “Victimhood” that they are more than willing to inflict damage upon themselves in the service of that goal. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Self-harm as strategy
(Jerusalem Post, May 9, 2008) Ever since the Trojans welcomed the Wooden Horse, full of armed Greeks, into their city, rulers and regimes have unintentionally defeated themselves.
But as the last month has made obvious, with the rule of Hamas in Gaza we have something else entirely: not folly, but a strategy designed to inflict self-harm.
The clearest, but by no means the only example of this is the fuel crisis that has brought transportation in Gaza to a virtual standstill. Even as it harshly condemned the Israeli "siege" of the Gaza Strip, Hamas acted to exacerbate the problem by repeatedly confiscating fuel trucks and carrying out attacks on border crossings.
On April 9, it launched an assault on the fuel terminal at Nahal Oz, which provides gas and fuel to the residents of the Strip. Last week, Hamas militiamen attacked trucks heading toward the Nahal Oz crossing that carried fuel intended for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and hospitals in the Gaza Strip. And the IDF was forced on Sunday to halt deliveries through the Karni crossing after vehicles came under Palestinian mortar fire while attempting to deliver food and fuel to Gazans.
Hamas, of course, does not have a monopoly on such self-harm; in one form or another, the tactic is shared by all terrorist movements, including the intifadas that brought such ruin to the Palestinian population.
How then are we to understand such self-defeating behavior? There are two ways, as political scientist James Q. Wilson has said, of thinking about terrorism. One is to see terrorism as an extreme expression of underlying injustices, and to assume that if the root problem is solved, the symptom will disappear.
The second, and more realistic, is to understand that whatever the underlying injustice, there are terrorists who by their very nature oppose solutions that would remedy that injustice. Any reform or amelioration, short of destroying the state, threatens their raison d'etre.
THIS LESSON must guide Israel's response to Hamas's offer of a truce. Khaled Mashaal, the group's Damascus-based leader, said Monday that his movement would offer Israel a 10-year hudna if it withdrew from all areas it captured in 1967. Gaza-based Hamas representatives Mahmoud Zahar and Saeed Seyam have been in Cairo as part of Egyptian mediation efforts toward a cease-fire.
The problem with such offers is not merely that Hamas would use a truce to rearm and regroup. Mashaal himself, after all, has proclaimed as much. "It is a tactic in conducting the struggle; it is normal for any resistance that operates in its people's interest... to sometimes escalate, other times retreat a bit," he said in a recent interview with Al-Jazeera television. Nor is it merely that the offer is accompanied by further threats of violence. Hamas has warned of an "unprecedented escalation" against Israel if it does not agree soon to the cease-fire offer, the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat reported Sunday. It is also an offer that exploits both Israel's justified fear of further terrorist attacks and our sense of concern vis-à-vis Gaza's growing humanitarian crisis.
The real problem, however, is that here too, Hamas's aim is not to reach a lasting resolution to the conflict, but precisely to exacerbate it -- to weaken the Israeli adversary and foster the illusion that the next set of concessions will be the last. "To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill," Sun Tzu said in the 4th century BCE.
IN INTERNATIONAL relations, as in other dimensions of life, the good intentions of others alone cannot aid those who refuse to help themselves. As the US is now learning in Iraq, for instance, democracy cannot be imposed on Arab societies from without. Much as Israel may wish for progressive reforms in Palestinian Arab society and for the concomitant relief of Palestinian suffering, such salvation need come from within.
Civilized nations are in an unenviable position when confronting regimes dedicated to the tragic ethos of self-harm. In the case of Hamas, the best approach remains continued adherence to the Quartet's policy of no contact with Hamas until it accepts the international community's three conditions for engagement: recognizing Israel's right to exist, renouncing terrorism and accepting previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[For an example of how the World's huge financial aid package to the relatively affluent "Palestinian" Arabs -- resulting from the World’s perverse preoccupation with their “plight” -- is causing truly deserving innocent souls in sub-Saharan Africa to literally die of hunger, please read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Don't mention Africa
By Evelyn Gordon
(Jerusalem Post, March 12, 2006) If anyone still believes that terror reaps no rewards, consider the fate of some 72,000 Angolan refugees in Zambia. The Angolans, refugees from their country's civil war, are being fed by UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees], the UN agency that handles all refugees worldwide except Palestinians. The food allowance is not exactly generous: According to a February 24 New York Times report, the average meal consists of 4.7 ounces of enriched cornmeal, two ounces of beans, half an ounce of vegetable oil and some salt. But three servings a day provide the 2,207 calories that the World Food Program considers the minimum for adequate nutrition.
Or rather, they did until January 1 [of 2006], when the food allowance was cut by 40 percent, to 1,400 calories a day. Since then, unsurprisingly, malnutrition has soared.
UNHCR instituted the cut because feeding 72,000 refugees 2,207 calories a day for one year costs $8.5 million - but as of January 1, the agency had yet to receive a penny in donations for 2006. Not knowing when more money might be forthcoming, it was trying to make leftover supplies from 2005 last as long as possible. In mid-February, the United States, Britain and Germany finally pledged a collective $2.3 million, but it is not known when that money will arrive -- or where the other $6.2 million will be found.
YET WEALTHY countries are clearly not short of disposable cash: Just three days after the Times report appeared, the European Union managed to scrounge up 120 million euros (about $143 million) in emergency aid for a more deserving cause: the Palestinian Authority. Of this, some $21 million -- more than twice the annual food budget of the Zambian refugee camps -- will go just toward paying February salaries for some of the PA's approximately 135,000 employees.
Unlike the refugees, the PA's cash crunch is its own fault. It has two immediate causes. First, the World Bank withheld a scheduled $60 million donation in December after PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, seeking to buy votes for his Fatah party prior to the PA's January elections, defied the bank and raised PA employees' salaries, thereby further bloating the authority's already bloated public sector. According to the World Bank, the PA's approximately $1 billion in independent annual revenues is now entirely consumed by salaries; for any governmental activity outside of salaries, it depends on foreign aid. The bank was unwilling to underwrite such financial mismanagement.
Second, following Hamas's victory in the elections, Israel refused to transfer some $45 million in taxes that it collects on the PA's behalf every month. That, however, was a direct response to Hamas policy: The organization refuses to recognize Israel's existence and openly calls for its destruction. For Israel to transfer money to Hamas would thus be rather like the US transferring money to al-Qaida.
YET EVEN taking a longer view, the PA's financial woes are still its own doing. Since its establishment in 1994, the PA has received unprecedented amounts of international aid. Before the [September 2000] intifada, its foreign aid per capita was second only to that of Bosnia; since the intifada began, it has been the highest in the world. In total, the PA has received close to $10 billion since its inception. Yet almost none of that money was invested in trying to build the Palestinian economy -- which continues to be a basket case.
In addition, since 2000, the PA's economy has been further disrupted by Israeli security measures imposed in response to the intifada. Among other things, Israel has drastically reduced the number of Palestinians allowed to work in Israel, disrupted travel within the West Bank via military checkpoints and instituted draconian security checks on cargo entering Israel from the territories.
Yet these measures, once again, were a direct response to PA policy -- specifically, its policy toward the terrorist war that has claimed more than 1,000 Israeli lives. Under Yasser Arafat, the PA actively fomented terrorism; under Abbas, it has not abetted terror, but neither has it actively tried to stop it. Not only have the PA's 58,000-strong armed forces never been ordered to hunt down terrorists, but many members of these forces actively participated in terror attacks, while others deliberately turned a blind eye. Had the PA instead made a good-faith effort to fight terror, Israel would not have had to institute such draconian defensive measures.
All of the above begs an obvious question: Why would the EU rather shell out an extra $143 million -- on top of the 500 million euros a year that it and its member states already give the Palestinians -- to subsidize the PA's self-destructive policies, than donate $8.5 million to provide Angolan refugees with an extra handful of corn? The answer, quite simply, is terrorism.
According to the accepted EU wisdom, averting Palestinian distress is a priority because Palestinian distress fuels Muslim rage worldwide. That theory seems dubious: If Palestinian distress were really so important to the Muslim world, it is hard to understand why, for instance, most of the PA's foreign aid comes from the West rather than from wealthy Muslim oil states.
Nevertheless, it has attained the status of Holy Writ in Europe. And preventing Muslim rage is an EU priority because such rage, as the past five years have amply demonstrated, results in people being slaughtered from New York to London to Bali to Madrid.
Angolan refugees, in contrast, have yet to perpetrate a
single suicide bombing. So really, who
cares if they starve to death?
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: It is important to highlight the fact that, despite the stagnant Palestinian Authority economy, there is virtually no starvation among "Palestinian" Arabs. In fact, for many years, Arab farmers in Judea, Samaria and Gaza have been exporting both food crops (such as tomatoes and cucumbers) and non-food crops (such as cut flowers) to Israel and other nations; and the volume of these exports has been steadily increasing.
As the Jerusalem Post reported on March 18, 2007 in the lead paragraph of an article entitled “Security and Defense: Gaza, get ready” by Yaakov Katz, even recent exports from “impoverished” Gaza are enormous:
“Airports Authority workers at the Karni cargo crossing into the Gaza Strip haven't worked so hard in a long time. In the past four months, they have facilitated the transfer of 1,300 tons of strawberries and 18 million flowers to Europe, as well as 14,000 tons of vegetables to Israeli markets, the highest numbers in exports from Palestinian Authority-controlled territory in over two years.”
Moreover, unlike the hapless Angolan refugees in Zambia, the "Palestinian" Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza enjoy permanent housing (some of which is quite extravagant), public and private transportation, and an extensive higher education system. Clearly, the "Palestinian" Arabs' standard of living is incomparably higher than that of the Angolan refugees.
I do, however, disagree with journalist Evelyn Gordon on one important point. It is not terrorism -- or, rather, the World's fear of terrorism -- that has catapulted the "Palestinian" Arabs to their favored status among the nations. Otherwise, other groups that also practice terrorism, such as the Chechens, the Basques (particularly via the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna -- "Basque Nation and Freedom" -- organization, known as the E.T.A.), the Catholics of Northern Ireland (particularly via the Irish Republican Army organization, known as the I.R.A.) and the Muslims of Kashmir, would have been able to achieve similar celebrity status. On the contrary, as I have stated elsewhere, the "Palestinian" Arabs owe their rarified status to the simple fact that they make war against the Jews.]
[“Palestinian” spokesmen and the World’s media outlets have been loudly and successfully lamenting for many months that the democratic and legitimate election of a Hamas government to rule the Palestinian Authority has caused Western aid donor nations to unfairly impose an “economic siege” against the “Palestinians”, thereby impoverishing them to the point of starvation. However, this is just another example of bestowing upon the “Palestinians” a misbegotten halo of Victimhood. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
The Palestinians aren't broke
Evelyn Gordon, THE JERUSALEM POST
Nov. 8, 2006
If there is one thing at which the Palestinians excel, it is public relations. With their elected government ostracized by the West, their task would seem daunting. Yet despite this handicap, they have successfully diverted Western attention for months from two embarrassing questions.
The first relates to money. In recent months, the media have been filled with dire reports about the growing humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian Authority. And at first glance, this seems logical: The West cut off aid to the Palestinian government after Hamas took power, and since Western aid comprised most of the PA's budget, a crisis would seem inevitable.
Yet as recent news reports have made clear, the PA appears to have plenty of money. It has simply chosen to use its funds for purposes other than its people's welfare.
For instance, Israeli intelligence has detected more than 20 tons of explosives being smuggled into Gaza this year, along with sophisticated antitank and antiaircraft missiles. Most of this weaponry goes to Hamas, the ruling terrorist organization cum party, but significant quantities also go to terrorist groups associated with Fatah, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's party. The purchase price for this materiel, including the cost of smuggling it into the Gaza, could have been used to cover the unpaid salaries of thousands of PA employees -- but Hamas and Fatah would both rather buy arms than feed their people. And as long as this is true, giving either group more money would be futile.
Or consider the fact, noted in an IMF [International Monetary Fund] report published last week, that in June, while the Hamas government was already pleading inability to pay existing PA employees, it decided to increase the PA's payroll by hiring an additional 5,400 employees, mainly security personnel -- read gunmen -- affiliated with Hamas. In other words, it had the money to hire 5,400 Hamas-affiliated gunmen: It was only when it came to teachers and doctors that its pockets were empty.
OR CONSIDER the incredible fact that despite the boycott, the European Union - for years the PA's principal donor -- has actually given more money to the Palestinians this year than it did in previous years. According to John Vinocur of the International Herald Tribune, the EU claims to have given $814 million to the Palestinians between January and October, "more than it would in a normal year."
Granted, the money has not gone to the Hamas government. Some has gone to Abbas's office, some to nongovernmental organizations and some directly to PA employees, through a "Hamas bypass" mechanism set up earlier this year. But the fact remains that the EU, the PA's major donor, has increased rather than decreased its contributions -- which means that if this money were being used for its intended purpose, a humanitarian crisis would seem unlikely. So is the humanitarian crisis a propaganda lie, or has this money, too, been diverted by its recipients to purposes other than the Palestinians' welfare?
BUT IF the PA's finances ought to prompt hard questions from the West, this is no less true of its counterterror efforts - or rather, the lack thereof. For years, the West has maintained that Abbas, unlike Hamas, wants to fight terror, but is incapable of doing so. Yet in fact, Abbas's forces have demonstrated exceptional proficiency in handling certain types of attacks - namely, those directed at Western journalists and aid workers.
Over the past year, there have been numerous kidnappings of foreigners. Just last week, for instance, a Spanish aid worker was kidnapped in Gaza; the week before, an AP photographer was kidnapped there; two weeks before that, an American aid worker was kidnapped in Nablus. In every such kidnapping, however, the victims have been released unharmed, usually within 24 hours. And in every single case, this has been due to PA intervention -- usually by Abbas's office.
This begs an obvious question: How is it that Abbas's security forces are so quickly able to locate and free kidnapped Westerners, but are completely incapable of dealing with any other type of terrorist activity?
Even during Abbas's 14 months in sole control of the PA, from January 2005 to March 2006, his forces failed to arrest so much as a single one of the terrorists who have launched Kassam rockets into Israel from Gaza every day since disengagement. Nor were anti-Israel terrorists of any other stripe -- bomb-makers, gunmen, kidnappers -- ever arrested, even when Israeli intelligence gave him information on which to act.
The conclusion is obvious: Abbas's forces are quite capable of taking action when he wishes them to do so, and in the case of Western journalists and aid workers, he does. He knows that these journalists and aid workers are largely responsible for generating Western sympathy for the Palestinian cause, and it is therefore important to him that they keep coming. And since this would be less likely if they risked torture or death at the hands of kidnappers, he makes sure that kidnapped Westerners are rescued quickly and unharmed.
But Abbas has no interest whatsoever in fighting anti-Israel terror, because that would be unpopular with his own public: As one September poll found, 63 percent of Palestinians support bombarding Israeli cities with rockets, 57 percent support suicide bombings against Israeli civilians and 75 percent favor kidnapping Israeli soldiers. Yet neither can he openly advocate such attacks, since that could lead to the West boycotting him like it does Hamas. The obvious solution is to plead helplessness and rely on a gullible West to swallow this plea.
Unfortunately, relying on Western gullibility has so far been a safe bet with regard to both money and terrorism. But if the West is serious about wanting an Israeli-Palestinian peace, it will have to stop turning a blind eye to both the PA's misuse of funds earmarked for its people's welfare and its refusal -0 not inability -0 to combat anti-Israel terror. Because if the PA can enjoy Western diplomatic and material support even without amending its behavior, it will have no incentive to change. And without change, neither the conflict nor Palestinian misery will end.
Copyright 1995-2006 The Jerusalem Post
[Below is a news article demonstrating that the “Palestinians”, who are apparently suffering from a surfeit of meat, are hardly starving. Read on!]
Shipment of meat smuggled from Hebron intercepted
By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
(Jerusalem Post, November 10, 2006) Seven hundred kilos of
meat smuggled in 30 crates via a car from the Hebron area [within the
jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority] without refrigeration or veterinary
supervision has been intercepted in the Beit Shemesh area [within Israel’s 1949
armistice demarcation lines] en route to restaurants
in the center of the country [i.e., Israel].
The Agriculture Ministry said on Thursday that intelligence data helped them catch the violators.
There is a strict ban on the movement of animal products from the Palestinian Authority to Israel due to concern for public health.
The public were warned to buy meat products only if the original package is closed, clean and with labels of the production and expiration date.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: Despite the much-criticized “economic siege” imposed upon the “Palestinians” by the aid donor countries of the West in the wake of Hamas’ ascension to leadership of the Palestinian Authority, it seems that international aid to the “Palestinians” has actually increased. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Int'l aid to Palestinians up since Hamas win
By Aimee Rhodes
(Jerusalem Post, January 28, 2007) International aid to the Palestinians increased by nearly 10 percent following Hamas's election victory, the United Nations under-secretary general for political affairs told the UN Security Council on Thursday.
Ibrahim Gambari said on the anniversary of Hamas's win that aid to Palestinians in 2006 had actually increased, despite the reassessment of donor programs and the cessation of financial transfers by Israel to the Palestinians.
He said that most of the aid was bypassing the Palestinian government.
"Total assistance to Palestinians last year -- not including funds channeled to the Palestinian Authority government or Hamas by regional donors -- had been $1.2 billion, which represented a nearly 10% increase over 2005," a UN press release said.
Gambari said that humanitarian assistance alone had doubled since 2004 and primarily took the form of food aid and cash-for-work programs. He added, however, that real gross domestic product per capita had actually declined in 2006 by at least 8%, and poverty levels had increased some 30%.
During the briefing, Gambai spoke of the need to jump-start the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. He said he considered the upcoming meeting of the Quartet slated for February 2 in Washington an important opportunity to revitalize the process.
Quoted as stating, "None of us can afford another year like the last one in Lebanon and the Middle East," Gambari cited periods of heightened levels of instability and suffering and said there was a sense of international urgency to find a political way ahead.
Gambari, who addressed a broad range of issues including internal Israeli and Palestinian matters, also decried Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, saying that the number of "West Bank settlers had increased by nearly six percent since 2005."
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: Despite the international media’s insistence on describing Gaza as “improverished”, it seems that at least some of the “Palestinian” Arabs living there have enough money to go on a shopping spree in Egypt, spending approximately 130 million dollars there. In fact, the number of Gazan shoppers entering Egypt in the wake of Hamas’ destruction of the Gaza-Egypt border wall is estimated to be 700,000, almost half the reported population of Gaza. Prior to this, Hamas had been persistently shouting, and the international media had been consistently repeating, that the Gazans were so poor that they were literally starving. However, it now appears that even the purchase of camels, sheep, cows, motorcycles, televisions, cell phones and other expensive commodities, including plots of land in Sinai, is not beyond the reach of the “impoverished” Gazans, many of whom have driven their cars into Egypt in their search for consumer goods. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Border Collapse A Trial [excerpt republished]
Breach Tests Resolve Of Egyptian Leaders, Causes Alarm In Israel
By RUSHDI ABU ALOUF And RICHARD BOUDREAUX
Los Angeles Times
January 24, 2008
RAFAH, Gaza Strip —
The collapse of Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday altered the region's political and security landscape as suddenly as it changed the lives of Palestinians who poured out of the enclave to stock up on goods made scarce by an Israeli blockade.
After masked gunmen used land mines to blast through a seven-mile-long border wall, tens of thousands of jubilant Gazans went on an Egyptian buying spree for gasoline, heating oil, rice, sugar, milk, cheese, cigarettes, tires, cement, television sets and mobile phones.
But the breach stirred alarm in Israel over the prospect that Palestinian militants could return with weapons, slipping into crowds of shoppers lugging household merchandise to the impoverished territory run by the Islamic movement Hamas.
. . .
Copyright 2008 Los Angeles Times
Egypt struggles to reseal border
Gazans bulldoze new hole in wall
By Joel Greenberg, Tribune correspondent
January 26, 2008
Egypt tried to close its breached border with the Gaza Strip on Friday, but Hamas militants bulldozed a new opening in a border wall and riot police failed to stem the flow of thousands of Palestinians into Egyptian territory.
The border breach at Rafah, in defiance of a tightened Israeli blockade imposed on Gaza in response to rocket attacks, is becoming a growing challenge to the Egyptian government. It does not want to be seen as aiding the Israelis in sealing off Gaza, but it also fears a spillover of Islamist influence from the Hamas-ruled territory.
Public opinion in Egypt and across the Arab world is strongly sympathetic to the Palestinians in Gaza, and the scenes of confrontations at the border, broadcast on Arabic satellite channels, have put the Egyptian leadership in an awkward position.
Pressed by the United States and Israel to act, Egypt moved Friday to reassert control.
After announcing over loudspeakers that the border would close at 3 p.m. local time, lines of Egyptian riot police carrying plastic shields and sticks faced off with crowds, sometimes lashing out at people to push them back. Stones were thrown, and the police responded with water cannons.
A bulldozer carrying black-clad Hamas militants plowed into a concrete border wall, flattening sections of it as gunfire went off and onlookers cheered. Hundreds then surged through the opening, some carrying plastic jugs for fuel, as riot police watched from nearby.
Cows and motorcycles
In other areas along the border, thousands of Gazans pushed past police lines and continued to move into and out of Egypt for a third day, hauling back goods on foot and on donkey carts. Cranes lifted camels, cows and motorcycles into the Gaza Strip, along with crates of supplies. Sheep were heaved over the border wall.
Palestinians have been buying food, cigarettes, medicine, electrical appliances, cement and livestock, replenishing stocks of items whose import has been banned by Israel during months of border closures imposed after Hamas seized control of Gaza in June.
By late afternoon Friday, the Egyptian riot police were withdrawn from the border, allowing people to move freely again. A UN official in Cairo estimated that 700,000 Palestinians, nearly half the population of the Gaza Strip, had crossed the border into Egypt since Hamas militants blasted open a border wall Wednesday.
As it resisted Egyptian attempts to close the border, Hamas said it was ready to work out a permanent border-crossing arrangement with Egypt and with the rival Fatah faction of President Mahmoud Abbas.
"We insist and urge our Egyptian brothers that there must be a mechanism to allow the passage of people and goods through the Rafah crossing in a legal and organized manner," said Taher al-Nunu, a Hamas government spokesman.
But it was unclear whether Egypt, which has kept its border with Gaza closed since Hamas seized control of the territory, would be willing to coordinate border arrangements with the militant group, particularly while under strong U.S. pressure to reassert control.
A nudge from Rice
"I understand it is a difficult situation for them," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday. "But it is an international border, it needs to be protected."
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in an interview published Friday in the weekly Al-Osboa, called conditions in the Gaza Strip "unacceptable" and urged Israel to "lift its siege" and "solve the problem." In a separate interview he invited Hamas and Fatah for talks in Cairo to mend their rift.
Israel, which tightened its blockade of the Gaza Strip more than a week ago after a surge of rocket attacks by Hamas militants, has said it expects Egypt to restore order on the border, and Israeli officials have expressed concern that arms and militants could move freely across the uncontrolled frontier. The Israeli army said it had raised it level of alert for attacks from Egypt, and a border highway was closed.
In two early-morning air strikes on vehicles in the Rafah area, Israel killed four Hamas militants, Palestinian officials said.
In the West Bank, Israeli troops shot and killed an 18-year-old Palestinian in a stone-throwing clash in the village of Beit Omar during a raid on the homes of assailants who stabbed two school counselors at a nearby Jewish settlement Thursday. The two assailants were killed.
Copyright © 2008, Chicago Tribune
Egypt fears Gazans bought land in Sinai [excerpt republished]
Khaled Abu Toameh, THE JERUSALEM POST
Feb. 7, 2008
Egyptian authorities are investigating claims that many Gazans bought land in Sinai in the past few weeks.
Leaders of several Beduin tribes living in Sinai have sent a message to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in which they strongly denied that their families sold land to Palestinians who poured into Egypt after the border was breached on January 23.
. . .
In their message, the Beduin leaders said they opposed selling their land to Palestinians or to any other "foreigners."
Mubarak dispatched the governor of northern Sinai, Ahmed Abdel Hamid, to warn the Beduin in Sinai against selling land to Palestinians. Palestinian sources claimed earlier that dozens of families from the Gaza Strip who crossed into Sinai have purchased thousands of dunams of land from Beduin tribes there.
"The Egyptian fear that Palestinian families are planning to settle in Sinai," the sources added.
The semi-official Al-Ahram newspaper in Cairo reported on Thursday that Egyptian security forces have rounded up some 650 Palestinians who were staying in el-Arish. It said the Egyptians were planning to deport them to the Gaza Strip in the coming days.
According to the report, Egyptian authorities have also seized 22 vehicles with Palestinian registration plates.
. . .
Copyright 1995- 2008 The Jerusalem Post
Analysis: When Hamas founded a mini-state [excerpt republished]
By YAAKOV AMIDROR and DAN DIKER
(Jerusalem Post, February 7, 2008) Hamas's breaching of the 12-kilometer security fence separating Gaza from Sinai on January 23, 2008, with the acquiescence of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, has triggered major shifts in the relationships between Israel, Gaza, and Egypt.
Opening Gaza's southern border to Egypt was a well-planned strategic move that has effectively knighted Hamas as the recognized government of a new state of Gaza. Previously, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and some Israelis had hoped that pressuring Hamas in Gaza via sanctions, while helping to create a stable and prosperous Palestinian society in the West Bank under Fatah leader and PA President Mahmoud Abbas, would trigger support for Abbas' leadership in Gaza.
However, recent events in Gaza have buried this possibility for the foreseeable future. Hamas, via Gaza's new-found access to Egyptian materials, goods and services, can now ease Gaza's depressed economic condition, and thereby diminish the differences between Gaza and the more prosperous West Bank.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians flooded the northeastern corner of the Sinai Peninsula after January 23, spending approximately $130 million in local Egyptian markets.
The opening of the state of Gaza to Egypt reinforces Hamas control that no external pressure will be able to reverse at this juncture. Abbas's prospects of regaining control in Gaza are remote, at best. Notwithstanding reports of an agreement with Egypt to include Abbas's Presidential Guard at Gaza's Rafah border crossing, Hamas will not give up its achievement and allow forces loyal to Abbas to control the border, despite Egypt's preference for such an arrangement.
The radical Hamas government, which is financed, trained and armed by Iran, has proven itself as an effective military and political force. Hamas has upgraded its strategic posture by opening its southern border and forcing its Egyptian neighbor to allow free and largely unimpeded access for nearly two weeks for hundreds of thousands of Gazans who crossed Egypt's sovereign borders and returned to Gaza at will. Hamas's success in forcing Egypt to negotiate over the crisis has upgraded its status.
. . .
© The Jerusalem Post
[Note: Even Egypt’s “ambassador” to “the Palestinian territories” concedes that “improvished” Gaza has a higher standard of living than some Egyptian cities and provinces. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
'Real relief for Gaza energy crisis within 5 months' [excerpt republished]
By JPOST.COM STAFF
March 21, 2012
Egypt envoy to Palestinian territories downplays tensions between Hamas, Cairo, says "our relations are strong."
Egyptian Ambassador to the Palestinian territories Yasser Othman said Wednesday that the Gaza Strip will be connected to Egypt's power grid within four to five months in a development that will alleviate an energy crisis that has plagued the Strip for the last three months.
Speaking with Saudi Arabian newspaper Al-Sharq, Othman said that Egypt and Gaza would begin work on connecting their power grids within the next few weeks.
"This will lead to a real relief for the deepening crisis in the Gaza Strip," Othman said.
Othman explained that Gaza's fuel needs -- in order to close their energy deficit -- are equal to the needs of four small Egyptian provinces, "due to the higher standard of living in the Strip compared to some cities and provinces here."
The Egyptian envoy said Cairo had graciously agreed to provide fuel to Gaza after a diesel deficit in Egypt had been exacerbated by fuel smuggling to the Gaza Strip.
. . .
© The Jerusalem Post
[Note: Apparently, the “improverished” Arabs of Judea and Samaria have enough disposable income to gobble up thousands of cell phones smuggled in from Jordan. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Top Abbas aide 'betrayed' by his driver
By Khaled Abu Toameh
(Jerusalem Post, March 20, 2008) Rauhi Fattouh, former speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council and a close aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, denied Wednesday that he had tried to smuggle 3,000 cellular phones from Jordan.
Fattouh, who served as acting PA Chairman for three months following the death of Yasser Arafat, claimed that it was his driver who had tried to smuggle the phones as they were crossing the Allenby Bridge on their way back from Jordan.
This would not be the first time that PA officials use their Israeli-issued VIP passes to smuggle goods into the Palestinian territories.
Fattouh and the driver were caught by customs officers during a routine check of their vehicle and baggage.
After discovering the cellular phones, the customs officers summoned the police, who briefly detained the two for questioning.
The police then reported the incident to the office of Maj.-Gen. Yosef Mishlav, coordinator of government activities in the Palestinian territories, who decided to temporarily revoke Fattouh's VIP pass.
"My driver has acted in an immoral and irresponsible manner," Fattouh told The Jerusalem Post. "He has exploited his position as driver of a senior official to smuggle the phones. He also used an official vehicle in violation of regulations."
Fattouh said that as soon as he learned about the confiscation of the smuggled cellular phones, he contacted the Palestinian security forces, asking them to detain the driver. "An investigation is underway to determine who's behind this attempt and whether the driver had accomplices," Fattouh said.
A PA security official in Ramallah said the driver has admitted to being behind the smuggling attempt. The official said the driver also admitted to having a Jordanian accomplice.
"The driver said that he tried to smuggle the cellular phones without Fattouh's knowledge," the official told the Post. "He has caused huge damage to Fattouh's reputation."
Fattouh accused the Israeli media of "exaggerating" the story. He also lashed out at the Israeli authorities for allegedly leaking the story to the media. Fattouh said he was enraged and saddened not because of the media reports as much as the feeling that he had been "betrayed" by his personal driver.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: The “impoverished” Gazans are said to be living in the most densely-populated “prison” in the World. However, this oft-reiterated aspect of their “Victimhood” also turns out to be false. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Lefrak City in Gaza
By LENNY BEN-DAVID
(Jerusalem Post, January 21, 2009) Gaza is the "most overpopulated few square miles in the whole world," wrote veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk in a recent dispatch in the British Independent. Both Army Radio station and Al-Jazeera's English television reported that "Gaza is the densest populated area in the world." But the claim is simply not true.
About 9,713 Gazans are crowded into each square mile of the strip's total 147 square miles, according to the US Census Bureau. But there are denser areas in the world such as Singapore (18,645 people per square mile on 241 sq. mi. of territory) and Hong Kong (18,176 per sq. mi. on 382 sq. mi.).
Population density need not translate to abject poverty and political unrest. Singapore and Hong Kong are situated along maritime trade routes and their per capita GDP surpasses $42,000. Gaza, however, despite its Mediterranean shoreline and an estimated $4 billion in offshore natural gas reserves, tallies only $1,100 per capita. Surely, Israel's siege of the hostile Hamasland chokes Gaza and is a major factor in its astronomical unemployment. But, Gaza is not necessarily destined to remain a "rubbish dump of destitute people," to use Fisk's words.
Presumably, Israeli military planners and international diplomats are already deliberating options for Gaza's future when the the terrorist regime is replaced by Egyptians, the Palestinian Authority or the few Hamas-affiliated non-terrorists who can be found. A priority - perhaps the highest priority - should be a major international construction effort to build mega-housing projects in Gaza. Despite the claims of overcrowding, large areas are available for construction.
Where? On the ruins of Gush Katif settlements, relatively large areas that were expropriated by Hamas and Palestinian militias and used as bases until IAF bombers razed them. During the fighting, the area of the former Netzarim settlement and IDF base, situated at a crucial crossroads south of Gaza City, reportedly served as a temporary base for an estimated 150 tanks. Three other areas suitable for such housing projects include the area of the former Dugit and Nisanit in northern Gaza, a short distance from the Erez industrial zone; the ruins of Kfar Darom near the Kissufim crossing in the center of Gaza; and the southern beach areas surrounding the former Neveh Dekalim that could also serve as the location for a major Gazan resort.
New Yorkers are familiar with Levittown, the planned community built 60 years ago by Levitt and Sons that churned out 30 homes a day. Today, the community consists of more than 17,000 homes and 50,000 residents, all located on just 6.9 sq. mi. with a population density of 7,700 people per sq. mi.
For some of the Palestinians in Gaza, a redesigning of Levittown-type single-family housing may be appropriate for clan life. For other Gaza residents, more appropriate may be high-rise projects like the 20 high-rise buildings of Lefrak City in Queens, or Starrett City in Brooklyn with its 5,800 apartments in 43 buildings of eight-20 stories.
A mega-housing project in Gaza will provide thousands of jobs, a major infusion of investment and the concomitant infrastructure for water, desalination, sewage, electricity and transportation. Until they were expelled, Israelis in those Gazan settlements constructed a lucrative hothouse enterprise, growing vegetables and flowers for export. American investors, including Bill Gates, purchased the facilities for the Palestinians only to see them plundered and destroyed. Perhaps the enterprise can be reestablished in areas adjacent to the new housing.
THE PROJECT will require a shift in Palestinian thinking. Twenty-five years ago the Palestinians vehemently opposed Israeli attempts to build new housing for refugees. The descendents of refugees who live in crowded camps make up one-third of Gaza's 1.5 million residents and are wards of UNRWA. They are directed and determined to return only to their ancestral homes in Israel. Those refugees who claimed to have come from Askalaan/Al-Jura may have moved just 20 miles "down the beach" from present day Ashkelon, but decades of propaganda fired their refusal to be rehoused.
In the mid-1990s I visited high-rise apartments under construction in Gaza with US Agency for International Development and European assistance. The apartments proved that Palestinians were willing to move into American-style apartment buildings. The apartments were large and designed for Eastern customs and lifestyle; for instance, both Western and Arab-style commodes were featured in every apartment. I was intrigued by the many subterranean floors which appeared to be formidable bunkers until I learned that the buildings were designated for Palestinian leadership. I was pleased to see the efficient and on-schedule construction of the American-funded buildings. Congress had made the aid conditional on payments to a third-party management authority, not to the corrupt Palestinian Authority. The European construction, free of such restrictions, was far behind schedule.
Hundreds of tons of cement have been poured in Gaza in recent years for Hamas bunkers and subterranean tunnels. Tens of millions of dollars have been invested in tunnels from Sinai and for the weapons that came through them. Perhaps soon Gazans will have the opportunity to use the cement and money for rebuilding lives, not destroying them.
The writer served as deputy chief of mission in the embassy in Washington. Today, he is a consultant on public affairs and blogs at www.lennybendavid.com.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: Propaganda notwithstanding, the relatively healthy, educated and affluent Gazans are “Victims” only of themselves. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
A free lunch for Hamas
By Justus Weiner
(Jerusalem Post, February 8, 2009) Daily Telegraph (London) correspondent Tim Butcher recently reported from Gaza after the war, stating: "Targets had been selected and then hit... but almost always with precision munitions... I was struck by how cosmetically unchanged Gaza appeared to be. It has been a tatty, poorly-maintained mess for decades and the presence of fresh bombsites... did not make any great difference... [O]ne thing was clear. Gaza City 2009 is not Stalingrad 1944."
Despite this, as far back as 1996 the NGO [non-governmental organization] Human Rights Watch has been predicting an "imminent humanitarian crisis/disaster" in Gaza. Indeed, various NGOs have lodged annual claims that the Jewish state is responsible for the "imminent humanitarian crisis" in the Gaza Strip. Might they have stopped to ask: How has the Gaza Strip been "on the verge" of a humanitarian crisis for in excess of 10 years?
In actuality, Israel has gone to extraordinary lengths, including the creation of the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) where representatives of the IDF and government ministries work day and night, to prevent a humanitarian crisis. CLA commander Col. Nir Press spoke candidly of Hamas's "well-oiled media and propaganda machine which has succeeded in creating humanitarian 'crises' out of thin air." He gave as an example Israel's decision to suspend fuel supplies in early 2008 after a Palestinian attack on the Nahal Oz fuel depot. Before restricting the supply, Israel filled all gas tanks in Gaza to their maximum. Yet, "taking advantage of this as a PR opportunity," Hamas refused to draw on the fuel and "sent hundreds of people to gas stations in Gaza to stand with buckets in a long line."
Tony Blair, former British prime minister and current Quartet peace envoy, explained that "most people don't understand -- that we're trying to urge Israel to get fuel into Gaza, and then the extremists come and kill the people bringing the fuel in. It's a crazy situation." Thus, time and time again, the aid that Israel has allowed to enter Gaza fails to reach the intended recipients: Palestinian civilians in need.
The "imminent humanitarian crisis" chorus is not only exaggerated, it is also entirely specious. In the words of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the critics "should point their criticism toward the Hamas terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip." A ministry spokesman also stated that "Israel allows shipments of food, medicine, fuel and electricity to Gaza because it doesn't want a humanitarian crisis, but... there is 'foolproof' evidence that Hamas diverts supplies for 'terrorist use.' If only the Palestinians choose to cease their pointless and indiscriminate firing of rockets against hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens, the entire region would return to normal."
LET'S LOOK at the facts.
According to the World Bank, the Palestinians are the largest per capita recipients of foreign aid worldwide. Regrettably, over the past 60 years, tens of billions of dollars have been mismanaged by the UNRWA due to the organization's lax oversight and faulty accountability mechanisms. Last year, James Lindsay, former legal adviser to UNRWA, wrote a highly critical report calling on the organization to "ensure the agency is not employing or providing benefits to terrorists and criminals." Moreover, a member of the US Congress recently declared "there is absolutely no reason why the United Nations cannot take aggressive action to ensure that not one penny of US dollars is being redistributed to terrorists."
In the aftermath of the recent Gaza war, the immediacy of their criticism has never been greater, as nations with the best of intentions line up to donate millions for the so-called reconstruction of Gaza.
Several other relatively unknown facts regarding Gaza's potential are worthy of mention. First, Gaza's offshore gas deposits are worth an estimated $4 billion. This natural resource could be accessed to improve the lives of residents of Gaza once the anarchy and violence of Hamas is curtailed. Second, the population of Gaza is comparatively healthy and well educated. Life expectancy in the Gaza Strip is more than 72 years, which is higher than in Russia, the Bahamas, India, Ukraine and Glasgow East (Scotland).
Third, Gaza has a much lower infant mortality rate than Angola, Iran, India, Egypt and Brazil. Perhaps the most astonishing fact, is that literacy in Gaza stands at a staggering 92 percent.
Likewise, despite the ceaseless repetition by journalists that "the Gaza Strip is the most densely populated place on Earth," it is in fact markedly less densely populated than an array of other locales, including a number of economic success stories such as Monaco, Hong Kong, Singapore and Gibraltar. Additionally, Macau has nearly ten times the population density of Gaza. This is not intended to compare life in Gaza with Manhattan's Park Avenue or Beverly Hills. Neither should it be denigrated as a disaster zone.
AN ADDITIONAL MYTH popularized by the media, NGOs and certain governments accuses Israel of violating international law by engaging in "collective punishment"' However, exercising legal countermeasures against a hostile entity (such as Gaza) does not constitute collective punishment under international law. Furthermore, there is nothing in international law that requires Israel to maintain open borders with a hostile entity. Examples abound of countries that elect not to trade with hostile neighbors for a variety of reasons: military, religious, economic and political. Thus in the past apartheid South Africa and Saddam Hussein's Iraq were subject to economic sanctions. Recently, others have sanctioned Cuba, Iran and even Israel.
Some provisions of international law impose upon Israel duties to act against Gaza and the Palestinian terrorists who are based there. First, Israel has the duty to prevent and punish Palestinian acts of genocide covered by the Genocide Convention (1948). Second, Israel has the duty, under UN Security Council Resolution 1373, to take various steps against Palestinian terrorists. Among the required steps, states must "refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts."
Thus, arguably, Israel is forbidden to supply aid to the Palestinian Authority, knowing that part of it will be diverted to Hamas and other terrorist groups and will, therefore, become passive support for terrorist acts. Additionally, Israel is required by Resolution 1373 to "[p]revent the movement of terrorists or terrorist groups by effective border controls." This means that Israel is required to continue maintaining strict controls on the passage of persons from Gaza to Israel.
The conflated message of the NGOs and the Hamas authorities in Gaza has long manipulated a complex reality to reap political and financial gains. In reality, the Palestinian-Israeli fighting in Gaza has been characterized by the extensive commission of war crimes, acts of terrorism and acts of genocide by Palestinian fighters. On the other hand, Israeli countermeasures have conformed to the requirements of international law. International law requires that Israel and other states take measures to bring Palestinian war criminals and terrorists to justice, to prevent and punish Palestinian genocidal efforts and, most importantly, to block would-be humanitarian donations from being misappropriated by Hamas. If you pay the piper, you get to call the tune.
In conclusion, there should be no free lunch. Why should the Hamas leadership, responsible for destroying what existed, be entrusted to dole out reconstruction financing? Simply put, terrorists and those complicit with them should not be handed the purse strings that will finance a new war.
The writer is an international human rights lawyer and a member of the Israel and New York Bar Associations. He is currently a Scholar in Residence at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and an adjunct lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: Although (according to the United Nations, international “human rights” organizations and the international media) Gazans are on the verge of “mass starvation” due to Israel’s “siege”, Hamas has managed to find money to develop a film industry. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Gaza: Hamas produces first feature film
Jul. 18, 2009
AP and Jpost Staff, THE JERUSALEM POST
The first feature film produced by Hamas made its debut this weekend, complete with an exclusive crowd of local celebrities posing for photographers at the movie premier screening in Gaza.
The action-packed thriller, an homage to a top Hamas operative, cost only $200,000 to make and is being shown to segregated audiences of bearded men and veiled women.
"It's Hamaswood instead of Hollywood," Fathi Hamad, Gaza's Hamas interior minister, said after the film's first showing Friday evening at Gaza City's Islamic University. "We are trying to make quality art that is Islamic and about the resistance, without provocative (sexual) scenes."
Hamad doubled as producer, and the screenplay was penned by Mahmoud Zahar, the Gaza strongman seen as one of the architects of the group's violent takeover of Gaza two years ago.
Despite his fierce reputation, Zahar, a physician, has always had an artistic streak, with three novels and two screenplays to his credit.
The movie tells the story of Emad Akel, commander of the Hamas military wing, who was killed in a firefight with Israeli troops in Gaza in 1993.
Akel, 23 at the time, was known as "the ghost" for his many disguises, including dressing up as a Jewish settler with a skullcap. In the early 1990s, he topped Israel's wanted list for his suspected role in killing 11 Israeli soldiers, an Israeli civilian and four Palestinian informers in a series of attacks.
In the two-hour movie, titled "Emad Akel," there's plenty of action. The hero frequently leaps out of cars to open fire on Israeli soldiers, prompting bursts of applause from the audience each time. There's no romance, however, and the female actors all wear long robes and headscarves.
The actors playing the Israeli characters -- soldiers, then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and his army chief of staff at the time, Ehud Barak -- speak heavily accented Hebrew, with Arabic subtitles providing explanations.
Rabin frequently yells at an inept Barak - now Israel's defense minister - who can't stop Hamas fighters. Israeli soldiers always seem asleep. Sleazy Israeli handlers try to persuade Palestinians to collaborate by offering them women and alcohol.
The cast is made up of amateur actors, including 57-year-old carpenter Mohammed Abu Rous, who portrays Rabin, assassinated in 1995 by an ultranationalist Jew. "I wanted to serve my country just like Rabin served the Jews," said Abu Rous, who oddly resembles the Israeli leader.
The movie was shot over 10 months on a production lot that Hamas hopes will one day grow into a $200 million media city. As part of its media empire, Hamas already operates a Gaza-based satellite television station, a radio station and a dozen news Web sites. Two daily newspapers are linked to Hamas, and the group produces a Hamas newsletter and an occasional glossy for its militant wing.
Still, Gaza's isolation -- its borders have been virtually sealed by Israel and Egypt since the Hamas takeover - are putting a damper on the nascent local film industry.
Hamad and Zahar want to make their next movie about Palestinian fighter Izzedine al-Qassam, after whom their military wing is named. But they can't film on location, the Israeli city of Haifa where their hero lived in the 1920s.
Gaza doesn't have movie houses, and "Emad Akel" will be screened at a cultural center. Gaza's cinemas were closed down in the late 1980s, with the outbreak of the first uprising against Israeli occupation. Because activists across the Palestinian territories felt entertainment was inappropriate at a time of struggle.
But in a stark sign of the divergent paths being taken by the two separate territories the Palestinians want for a state, movie houses are reopening in the West Bank, where Hamas's more secular rival, Fatah, holds sway.
A movie poster in the West Bank city of Nablus shows Lebanese star Haifa Wehbe in an alluring red dress emphasizing her curvy figure -- a sharp contrast to the stern face of Emad Akel in Gaza that peers down from billboards clutching an assault-rifle with Israeli soldiers running in the background.
At Friday's invitation-only screening, the real stars were Zahar, Hamad and Gaza's Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh. They chatted with the actors and posed for photographs.
Zahar said making movies is just another way for Palestinians to fight Israeli rule.
"Resistance can be a word, a poem," he said.
Copyright 1995 - 2009 The Jerusalem Post
[Note: Gaza has been “suffering” from prosperity. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
'Illegal' Gaza tunnel owners suffer as Hamas economy grows
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent February 17, 2010
Owners of the smuggling tunnels bordering the Gaza Strip and Egypt have been suffering from financial problems due to their tunnels' inactivity, according to Palestinian sources.
The reason, it turns out, actually stems from the overall success of smuggling tunnels in Gaza. Hamas has recently set up 'legal' tunnels, which they use to smuggle various merchandise. As a result, existing, non-Hamas run tunnels are suffering financially.
The Hamas tunnels are used to bring in merchandise intended for sale in markets, such as food products and home appliances. Palestinians believe that the overflow of goods caused a complete smuggling standstill in dozens of underground channels. Moreover, work on digging additional tunnels has also stopped.
The tunnel owners explain that the increase in merchandise in Gaza made prices sharply decrease, which seriously reduced the earnings from the 'illegal' smuggling industry. One of the tunnel owners told a news agency that he is waiting for a reasonable business offer to come along, because at the moment it isn't profitable for him to open the channel to smuggling.
In 2008, the smuggling tunnel trade flourished due to the Israeli blockade on Gaza, and was also strong in 2009 in spite of growing Egyptian surveillance of the tunnels, which endangered diggers and smugglers. Since June of 2007, over 100 Palestinians lost their lives in tunnel collapses.
The Hamas-run tunnels, which are deemed legal by the government, are now experiencing continuous activity. Under Hamas rule, hundreds of underground channels have been dug between Gaza and Egypt.
The recent increase in smuggled goods in Gaza caused many factories to renew activity. Overall, if judging by the two most smuggled products - gasoline and cement - tunnel activity has actually caused Gaza to experience an economic reawakening.
Ultimately, the tunnel owners' crisis came from being overly successful. "The last two weeks were the worst in the smuggling tunnel trade since the blockade in June of 2007," said a tunnel owner.
Copyright 2010 Haaretz
Bargain Prices for 'Zionist' Clothes in New Gaza Luxury Mall
By Maayana Miskin Arutz Sheva Tuesday, July 20, 2010, Av 9, 5770
While Hamas continues to complain that Gaza lacks building materials, a luxury mall in Gaza City held its grand opening over the weekend. Among the goods on sale are Israeli men's clothing, and items from Turkey, France, and the United States.
Photojournalist Tom Gross, who publicized photos from Saturday's event on his website, noted that the opening coincided with a visit to Gaza from European Union foreign policy director Catherine Ashton. “The BBC and other media have featured extensive reports all day long on what they term the dire economic situation in Gaza; why are they not mentioning the new shopping mall that opened there yesterday?”, Gross asked.
Pictures of the new mall were featured on the Palestinian Authority Safa website and by the Associated Press.
A variety of stores sell cosmetics, clothing, office supplies, toys, shoes, appliances and more. The mall boasts air conditioning and a delivery service.
Hamas has often accused Israel of creating a “siege” by keeping its border crossings to Gaza closed. According to Hamas, Gaza lacks electricity and building supplies.
Gross, who has previously posted pictures of fancy restaurants, shops filled with goods, and even an Olympic-size swimming pool during the “Israeli siege”, pointed out that Gaza enjoys a higher standard of living than Turkey, which recently sent citizens on a flotilla to Gaza in violation of an Israeli naval blockade of Hamas. Noting that life expectancy and literacy rates are higher in Gaza than in Turkey, while infant mortality rates are lower, he asked, “Have they considered that perhaps the humanitarian flotillas ought to be going in the other direction, towards Turkey?””
Despite the bargain prices, Israelis are advised that it is forbidden to enter Gaza.
© Copyright IsraelNationalNews.com
Egyptian Journalist Describes 'Absolute Prosperity' in Gaza
By Maayana Miskin Arutz Sheva Friday, July 30, 2010, Av 19, 5770
With Hamas telling tales of deprivation and suffering in Gaza, Egyptian journalist Ashraf Abu al-Houl has added his report to others who were surprised to discover a “prosperous” Gaza in which prices are low and luxury businesses are booming. Al-Houl's story of his trip to Gaza and his realization that “in actual terms, Gaza is not under siege” was written up in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
"A sense of absolute prosperity prevails, as manifested by the grand resorts along and near Gaza's coast. Further, the site of the merchandise and luxuries filling the Gaza shops amazed me,” he reported.
Concerned that his initial impression of prosperity may have been misleading, “I toured the new resorts, most of which are quite grand, as well as the commercial markets, to verify my hypothesis. The resorts and markets have come to symbolize prosperity, and to prove that the siege is formal or political, not economic,” Al-Houl said.
Gaza's markets are filled with a “plethora of goods,” he wrote. Prices on many items, particularly food, are much lower than they are in Egypt, he said. With goods entering Gaza from both smuggling tunnels to Egypt and humanitarian aid shipments coming in via Israeli crossings, “supply is much greater than demand,” he stated.
The evident prosperity is not enjoyed by all, or even most, of Gaza's residents, according to Al-Houl. The problem is the vast differences in the distribution of wealth. The luxury resorts and wide range of consumer goods are enjoyed by “only a few groups,” he said, primarily those who own smuggling tunnels to Egypt and those who work for international organizations such as the United Nations' UNRWA and who do not include or aid the rest of the population.
Most of the new resorts “are owned by members, or associates, of Hamas,” he reported. “In addition, the Hamas municipalities charge high fees, in Gaza terms, for the use of public beaches,” he added.
Al-Houl quoted political activist Mustafa Ibrahim as saying that while Gaza's rich invest in the leisure industry, 80% of residents rely on UNRWA, and unemployment is approximately 45%. “This creates a distorted picture,” Ibrahim explained.
© Copyright IsraelNationalNews.com
Guest Columnist: Down and out in Gaza? [excerpt republished]
By DAVID ROSENBERG
If the Turks still insist on sending an aid ship later this month, they might think of rerouting it to Egypt or Syria.
(Jerusalem Post, June 10, 2011) A curious incident occurred at the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt the morning of May 28. To paraphrase Arthur Conan Doyle, the curious incident was that nothing much happened at all.
Here was Gaza, billed as the world’s biggest prison, joyously celebrating what was variously described as a historical event, a tiny but symbolically important opening to the outside world after four years of seizure. Yet at the end of the first day of freedom, only 565 Gaza residents had crossed into Egypt, and the terminal was empty by the afternoon. The number fell to 404 on Sunday, picked up to 631 on Monday, and then kept dropping so that by Thursday Hamas was alleging that someone was hardening the Egyptian heart and oppressing the freedom-seeking for the second time in 3,000 years.
Rafah had been open for a year (although the categories of eligible travelers were more limited), and according to some reports, 160,000 people had traveled through it before the historic reopening. Even now, not everyone can freely pass: Adult men need visas, and crossing is limited for now to people who previously registered. But the fact is that even registered travelers didn’t rush to escape. Although the media were filled with emotional accounts of liberation, many Gazans said they were in no rush to travel.
The Gaza-as-prison has been somewhat overwrought. But what about Gaza’s humanitarian crisis? A Google search under “Gaza humanitarian crisis” reveals 1.1 million results (four times the number for Darfur, incidentally), but the references drop off precipitously after 2010 when Israel eased controls of its crossings following the Mavi Marmara. Most of the recent references to a crisis are Israel saying there isn’t one. Failing a real crisis, many Palestinian activists insist that Gazans suffer psychological trauma, which if nothing else at least is the kind of crisis well-fed and healthy Westerners can relate to.
The fact is that even at its worst, Gaza was never the humanitarian disaster it was made out to be – not the kind with starving children in the streets or with people dying slowly in hospitals for lack of medicine. Lacking pictures, activists would produce hundreds of statistics to try and illustrate a crisis that wasn’t quite there. But the statistics were selective and were in many cases not atypical of a Third World country. In fact, the infant mortality rate in Gaza is lower than most of the Middle East, and life expectancy is higher than the world average. If the Turks still insist on sending an aid ship later this month, they might think of rerouting it to Egypt or Syria.
. . .
The writer is executive business editor at The Media Line. His book Israel: The Knowledge Economy and Its Costs will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
All rights reserved © The Jerusalem Post 1995 – 2011
Humanitarian Crisis: Gaza Exporting Aid!
by Gavriel Queenann
(Arutz Sheva, August 14, 2011) In another sign that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza isn't all it is said to be, Gazans are sending aid to Somalia.
Imams in mosques in the Gaza strip mentioned Somalia during Friday prayers last week and asked Gazans to donate to their brothers there.
Moreover, the Arab Doctors Union Gaza branch ran a campaign asking the people of Gaza to donate to people of Somalia.
The campaign, called "From Gaza hand in hand to save the children of Somalia", will last throughout Ramadan.
The Union took out advertisements supporting the campaign in local radios and websites to encourage people to contribute to the campaign. It is planning advertisements on local television also.
Various people responded to the campaign, but most donations came from the local non-governmental organisations and some wealthy businessmen, according to the organizers of the campaign.
One of the donors, Mohammed Abd Al Latif said, "I saw the pictures of our brothers in Somalia and felt so sorry for them; I wanted to do anything to help."
"The campaign aimed at demonstrating the extent of physical cohesion between the besieged Gaza and Somalia, showing that the Palestinian people are capable of supporting and standing by the Somali people," said Ahmad Hathat, the public relations officer of the Union.
The charity campaign underscores the fact that Gaza is swimming in surplus aid from an international community willing to underwrite the national aspirations of Fatah and Hamas to the extent that their enclaves have become transit points, rather than a destination, for aid.
All rights reserved © Arutz Sheva
[Note: While the World is always warning that the “Palestinian” Arabs are so “impoverished” that they are on the verge of a humanitarian castastrophe, at least the “Palestinians” have real food to eat. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
For Hungry Haitians, Mud's A Meal
Cheap Cookies Better Than Nothing
By JONATHAN M. KATZ, Associated Press
January 30, 2008
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti —
It was lunchtime in one of Haiti's worst slums, and Charlene Dumas was eating mud.
With food prices rising, Haiti's poorest can't afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies.
Charlene, 16, with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs — cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau.
The mud has long been prized by pregnant women and children here as an antacid and source of calcium. But in places like Cite Soleil, the oceanside slum where Charlene shares a two-room house with her baby, five siblings and two unemployed parents, cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening have become a regular meal.
"When my mother does not cook anything, I have to eat them three times a day," Charlene said. Her baby, named Woodson, lay still across her lap, looking even thinner than the slim 6 pounds, 3 ounces he weighed at birth.
Although she likes their buttery, salty taste, Charlene said the cookies also give her stomach pains. "When I nurse, the baby sometimes seems colicky, too," she said.
Food prices around the world have spiked because of higher oil prices, needed for fertilizer, irrigation and transportation. Prices for basic ingredients such as corn and wheat are also up sharply, and the increasing global demand for biofuels is pressuring food markets as well.
The problem is especially dire in the Caribbean, where island nations depend on imports, and food prices are up 40 percent in places.
The global price hikes, together with floods and crop damage from the 2007 hurricane season, prompted the U.N. Food and Agriculture Agency to declare states of emergency in Haiti and several other Caribbean countries. Caribbean leaders held an emergency summit in December to discuss cutting food taxes and creating large regional farms to reduce dependence on imports.
At the market in the La Saline slum, two cups of rice now sell for 60 cents, up 10 cents from December and 50 percent from a year ago.
Beans, condensed milk and fruit have gone up at a similar rate, and even the price of the edible clay has risen over the past year by almost $1.50. Dirt to make 100 cookies now costs $5, the cookie makers say.
Still, at about 5 cents apiece, the cookies are a bargain compared with food staples. About 80 percent of people in Haiti live on less than $2 a day, and a tiny elite controls the economy.
Merchants truck the dirt from the central town of Hinche to the La Saline market, a maze of tables of vegetables and meat swarming with flies. Women buy the dirt, then process it into mud cookies in places such as Fort Dimanche, a nearby shantytown.
Carrying buckets of dirt and water up ladders to the roof of the former prison for which the slum is named, they strain out rocks and clumps on a sheet, and stir in shortening and salt.
Then they pat the mixture into mud cookies and leave them to dry under the scorching sun.
The finished cookies are carried in buckets to markets or sold on the streets.
A reporter sampling a cookie found that it had a smooth consistency and sucked all the moisture out of the mouth as soon as it touched the tongue. For hours, an unpleasant taste of dirt lingered.
Assessments of the health effects are mixed. Dirt can contain deadly parasites or toxins, but can also strengthen the immunity of fetuses in the womb to certain diseases, said Gerald N. Callahan, an immunology professor at Colorado State University who has studied geophagy, the scientific name for dirt-eating.
Haitian doctors say that depending on the cookies for sustenance risks malnutrition.
"Trust me, if I see someone eating those cookies, I will discourage it," said Dr. Gabriel Thimothee, executive director of Haiti's health ministry.
Marie Noel, 40, sells the cookies in a market to provide for her seven children. Her family also eats them.
"I'm hoping one day I'll have enough food to eat, so I can stop eating these," she said. "I know it's not good for me."
Copyright 2008 Associated Press
[Note: The “Palestinians”, who are universally portrayed as “suffering”, are not even close to experiencing the serious deprivations striking truly improverished populations elsewhere in the World. Unlike the propaganda-driven “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza, there are real humanitarian crises occurring in Myanmar, China, India, Haiti and Zimbabwe. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
'Myanmar death toll may hit 100,000'
Jpost.com staff and AP, THE JERUSALEM POST May 8, 2008
The death toll from Myanmar's devastating cyclone could top 100,000, warned a top US diplomat on Wednesday, as hungry people swarmed the few open shops and fistfights broke out over food and water in the country's swamped Irrawaddy delta.
Meanwhile, two Israelis who were in Myanmar when the devastating cyclone struck the country earlier this week have still not contacted their families in Israel. Israel Radio reported that the Foreign Ministry said the silence from the two could be due to the fact that telephone lines in Myanmar were still not fully operational.
According to the minutes of a UN aid meeting obtained by The Associated Press, the military junta's visa restrictions were hampering international relief efforts.
Only a handful of UN aid workers had been let into the impoverished Southeast Asian country, which the government has kept isolated for five decades to maintain its iron-fisted control. The US and other countries rushed supplies to the region, but most of it was being held outside Myanmar while awaiting the junta's permission to deliver it.
Entire villages in the Irrawaddy delta were still submerged from Saturday's storm, and bloated corpses could be seen stuck in the mangroves. Some survivors stripped clothes off the dead. People wailed as they described the horror of the torrent swept ashore by the cyclone.
"I don't know what happened to my wife and young children," said Phan Maung, 55, who held onto a coconut tree until the water level dropped. By then his family was gone.
A spokesman for the UN Children's Fund said its staff in Myanmar reported seeing many people huddled in rude shelters and children who had lost their parents.
"There's widespread devastation. Buildings and health centers are flattened and bloated dead animals are floating around, which is an alarm for spreading disease. These are massive and horrific scenes," Patrick McCormick said at UNICEF offices in New York.
Myanmar's state media said Cyclone Nargis killed at least 22,980 people and left 42,119 missing.
American diplomat Shari Villarosa, who heads the US Embassy in Yangon, said the number of dead could eventually exceed 100,000 because safe food and water were scarce and unsanitary conditions widespread.
The situation is "increasingly horrendous," she said in a telephone call to reporters. "There is a very real risk of disease outbreaks."
A few shops reopened in the Irrawaddy delta, but they were quickly overwhelmed by desperate people, said Paul Risley, a spokesman for the UN World Food Program in Bangkok, Thailand, quoting his agency's workers in the area.
"Fistfights are breaking out," he said.
A Yangon resident who returned to the city from the delta area said people were drinking coconut water because there was no safe drinking water. He said many people were on boats using blankets as sails.
Local aid groups distributed rice porridge, which people collected in dirty plastic shopping bags, he said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared getting into trouble with authorities for talking to a foreign news agency.
UN officials estimated some 1 million people had been left homeless in Myanmar, which also is known as Burma.
Some aid workers said heavily flooded areas were accessible only by boat, with helicopters unable to find dry spots for landing relief supplies.
"Basically the entire lower delta region is under water," said Richard Horsey, the Thailand-based spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid.
"Teams are talking about bodies floating around in the water," he said. This is "a major, major disaster we're dealing with."
International assistance began trickling in Wednesday with the first shipments of medicine, clothing and food. But the junta, which normally restricts access by foreign officials and groups, was slow to give permission for workers to enter.
"Visas are still a problem. It is not clear when it will be sorted out," said the minutes of a meeting of the UN task force coordinating relief for Myanmar in Bangkok.
McCormick, the UNICEF spokesman, said the agency had 130 people in Myanmar but needed to get more in.
"We're hopeful they will start fast-tracking visas for humanitarian personnel," he said. "The government clearly weren't prepared and needs to step up to the plate. We can't work in a vacuum, and we need the host government to work with us and to eventually take over."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the junta to speed the arrival of aid workers and relief supplies "in every way possible."
As they wrangled with Myanmar officials over visas, aid groups struggled to deliver supplies.
The "most urgent need is food and water," said Andrew Kirkwood, head of Save the Children in Yangon. "Many people are getting sick. The whole place is under salt water and there is nothing to drink. They can't use tablets to purify salt water."
State television said Myanmar would accept aid from any country. It also said planes flew in Wednesday with tents from Japan, medicine and clothing from Bangladesh and India, packets of noodles from Thailand and dried bacon from China.
The first UN flights, carrying 45 metric tons of high energy biscuits, were due to arrive early Thursday.
Some aid workers told the AP that the government wanted emergency supplies to be distributed by relief workers already in place, rather than through foreign staff brought into Myanmar.
US President George W. Bush said the United States was ready to deliver aid and was prepared to use Navy ships and aircraft to help search for the dead and missing. But it was not known if the junta, which regularly accuses Washington of trying to subvert its rule, would accept an American military operation in its territory.
Three US Navy warships participating in an exercise in the Gulf of Thailand were standing by. A U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo plane also landed in Thailand and another was on the way, Air Force spokeswoman Megan Orton said at the Pentagon.
In Yangon, many angry residents complained that the military regime had given vague and incorrect information about the approaching storm and provided no instructions on how to cope when it struck.
Officials in India said they had warned Myanmar about the cyclone two days before it roared into the low-lying Irrawaddy delta. B.P. Yadav, spokesman for the Indian Meteorological Department, said the agency spotted the developing storm on April 28 and gave regular updates to all countries in its path.
Myanmar told the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva that it warned people in newspapers, television and radio broadcasts of the impending storm, said Dieter Schiessl, director of the WMO's disaster risk reduction unit.
Jim Andrews, a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather, said satellite photos showed flooding of similar magnitude to that of Hurricane Katrina. "It's a similar kind of land to New Orleans ... an intricate network of tidal creeks and openings that allow easy access for a powerful storm surge to penetrate right into populated land," he said.
State television quoted a government official, Gen. Tha Aye, as reassuring people the situation was "returning to normal."
But residents of Yangon faced doubled prices for rice, charcoal, bottled water and cooking oil.
At a suburban market, a fishmonger shouted to shoppers: "Come, come the fish is very fresh." But an angry woman snapped: "Even if the fish is fresh, I have no water to cook it!"
Most residents of Yangon rely on wells with electric pumps for water, and power had been restored to only a small part of the city.
The cyclone came a week before a referendum on a proposed constitution backed by the junta. State radio said Saturday's vote would be delayed in areas affected by the storm, but balloting would proceed elsewhere.
A top US envoy to Southeast Asia said the junta should be focusing on helping cyclone victims.
"It's a huge crisis and it just seems odd to me that the government would go ahead with the referendum in this circumstance," said Scot Marciel, the US ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
This week, first lady Laura Bush called the referendum a sham, and she also criticized the junta's handling of the storm. "We know already that they are very inept," she said.
The comments drew rebukes even from some Myanmar exiles, who normally are strongly critical of the ruling generals.
Aye Chan Naing, editor of the Democratic Voice of Burma, a Myanmar opposition media operation based in Norway, said it was not the right time to be chastising the junta.
"Everybody knows what kind of regime they are, so there is no question about that. The question right now is how to get the aid into the country," he said. "So the best way is to use a diplomatic way and to have an open dialogue and keep talking until they agree."
Copyright 1995- 2008 The Jerusalem Post - http://www.jpost.com/
China works to prevent disease among millions left homeless by earthquake
Associated Press, THE JERUSALEM POST Jun 3, 2008
Chinese authorities are racing to prevent diseases breaking out among 5 million people left homeless in the wake of the massive earthquake that killed almost 70,000.
Workers in protective suits circled collapsed communities in trucks on Monday, spraying disinfectant on the rubble.
Providing safe food, drinking water and temporary shelters was a priority following the May 12 earthquake, the Health Ministry said. Bodies discovered in the rubble were being disinfected, ministry spokesman Mao Qun'an said in an interview posted on the central government's Web site.
"If we can do those four things properly, we have the confidence to guarantee there will be no epidemics after the disaster," Mao said. He said there was no evidence of contagious diseases in the quake zone, where survivors were crammed into tents and other temporary shelters.
Copyright 1995- 2008 The Jerusalem Post
Child malnutrition is an old stain on a new India
By Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer August 24, 2008
SARAIYA, INDIA -- Sitting in the basket of a hanging scale, 20-month-old Deep Kumar epitomizes the silent but monumental crisis gripping this country: The needle stops at 14 pounds.
A healthy child his age ought to weigh nearly twice as much. But very little about Deep is healthy. Whereas a normal toddler would run around, the boy seems to struggle to keep his stunted frame sitting upright. His limbs are pitifully thin, the bones within as fragile as glass.
These are classic signs of severe malnutrition, and they are branded on the wasted bodies of millions of youngsters across India.
Astonishingly, an estimated 40% of all the world's severely malnourished children younger than 5 live in this country, a dark stain on the record of a nation that touts its high rate of economic growth and fancies itself a rising power.
Soaring food prices and ineffectual government threaten to push that figure even higher. Officials are beginning to wake up to the magnitude of the emergency, as experts warn of grave consequences for the future of India's economic boom if the state fails to improve the well-being of its youngest citizens.
Already, the proportion of malnourished children is several times greater than in China, Asia's other developing giant, and double the rate found in most countries of sub-Saharan Africa.
"This is a stunning fact," said Abhijit Banerjee, a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has studied the problem.
To its credit, India has in the last several decades succeeded in warding off the specter of famine that regularly haunted the subcontinent well into the 20th century. As a result of better farming techniques and food-security policies, mass starvation is no longer the dread concern it once was.
But that achievement, as well as the recent euphoria over India's rapid economic expansion, has obscured the government's failure to help provide its people, particularly the young, with the nutrients needed to build healthy, productive lives.
Many officials were shocked when a 2005-06 government study revealed hardly any progress in reducing child malnutrition over the last decade and a half -- exactly when the Indian economy was exploding and attracting international attention.
"This has not been a policy priority for this country for the last 40 years," said Victor M. Aguayo, chief of child nutrition and development at the United Nations Children's Fund office in New Delhi. "There was an underlying assumption that as soon as economic growth takes place, this will vanish. So let's focus on economic growth; let's focus on getting rich."
Instead, India's performance in combating child malnutrition has been worse than that of other countries with similar economic conditions. Close to half of all young children in India -- or a staggering 60 million -- are malnourished. Only Bangladesh and Nepal have a higher percentage of underweight children.
In a speech last year, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh acknowledged the gravity of the situation, calling it a "national shame."
"We cannot deny that it is a crisis," said Loveleen Kacker, a senior official at the central Ministry for Women and Child Development. "Maybe we didn't treat it like a crisis earlier, which we should have. Then we would have taken corrective steps much earlier than now. And what we're thinking of doing now we should've started 10 years back."
The World Bank estimates that malnutrition and its negative effects on health and productivity cost India as much as 3% of GDP a year. Beyond the economic fallout is the damage to India's image and credibility as it tries to assert itself as an important player on the world stage.
"It's not nice to want to have an international role and then find that you're having to defend such an indefensible position," Kacker said.
Just why malnutrition remains such a stubborn problem here is due to a constellation of causes that tend to reinforce and aggravate each other, creating "the perfect storm of risk factors," as Aguayo put it.
At root is the abject poverty so pervasive in India, where one-third of the population of 1.1 billion squeaks by on less than $1 a day. Another third makes do with $2 a day.
That deprivation can stack the cards against a child before he or she is even born. Too many women here are underweight and undernourished themselves, the major reason why 30% of Indian babies enter the world weighing less than 5 1/2 pounds. Afterward, in the crucial first two years of life, many children are fed sugary water, animal milk, rice and other foods lacking the fat, protein and vitamins necessary for proper physical and mental growth.
"Women too thin and anemic, giving birth to tiny babies, who are poorly fed in the first two years of life: That's the synopsis of the tragedy," Aguayo said. "India needs to break this intergenerational cycle of malnutrition."
That cycle is plainly evident with 20-month-old Deep and his mother, Bachiya Devi, here in the dirt-poor eastern state of Bihar, where the proportion of malnourished children younger than 3 has actually risen, not dropped, in recent years, from 54% to 58%.
Like her son's, Devi's arms are stick-thin, the bangles adorning them sliding up and down with no resistance. The sinews of her neck protrude, while her chest seems lost far below the folds of her canary-yellow sari. Her careworn face suggests an age much older than her 45 years.
With a blind husband who is unable to work, Devi depends on her parents to help out with buying food. She reckons that 100 rupees a day would be enough to guarantee two square meals for her husband, herself and the three of their five children who live at home. But from her modest vegetable stall she earns an average of 30 rupees a day, the equivalent of 70 cents.
"There are four or five days a month when the pot doesn't boil and we go hungry," Devi said. At home, little Deep, her youngest child and only son, eats one roti, or piece of flatbread, a day, plus some rice and occasionally some vegetables.
"I'm a poor woman," Devi said.
"What more can I afford?"
As she spoke, her sleeping son twitched fitfully on a bed in a "nutrition rehabilitation center" here in Saraiya sponsored by UNICEF, which in effect provides triage for the worst-hit.
The ward is a study in cheated childhood. Mumta, at 22 months, looks less than half her age; her rib cage can be easily felt beneath her clothes. Muskan, 1 1/2 , lies still under her mother's watchful gaze, a blue hand towel covering nearly her entire body. Vikas, almost 4 and suffering from cerebral palsy, can barely sit up without help from his gaunt mother, who is 45 and pregnant with her fifth child.
There are flickers of hope. After 10 days of eating nutrient-laden eggs and other foods not available at home, Deep has gained almost a pound and a bit more energy. Other children in the ward also exhibit small signs of improvement.
All the youngsters are so chronically malnourished that they belong to a category known as "severely wasted." India is home to 8 million such cases needing immediate therapeutic feeding and treatment.
However, the government accepts no foreign food aid and has not imported any of the high-energy, ready-to-eat food packets on the market that can be administered to badly malnourished youngsters to jump-start their recovery, Aguayo said. None of the country's biotechnology firms -- among the most advanced in the world -- manufactures them, though the cost would probably be only about a dollar a pound.
These triage packets would help the worst-off cases. But if India fails to cut its overall rate of child malnutrition, experts warn, it faces a future dragged down by an underproductive workforce and ballooning numbers of malnourished youngsters.
As Farhat Saiyed, a nutritionist here in Bihar state, put it: "We are entering a dangerous world."
Copyright 2008 Los Angeles Times
Flooding overwhelms hungry Haitians
'If we keep going like this, the whole country is going to crash'
The Associated Press Sept. 3, 2008
GONAIVES, Haiti —
Entering a flooded city on inflatable boats, U.N. peacekeepers found hundreds of hungry people stranded for two days on rooftops and upper floors Wednesday as the fetid carcasses of drowned farm animals bobbed in soupy floodwaters.
Haiti seems cursed this hurricane season, with its crops ruined and at least 126 people killed by three storms in less than three weeks. Even as Tropical Storm Hanna edged away to the north, forecasters warned that a fourth storm — Hurricane Ike — could hit the Western hemisphere's poorest country as a major storm next week.
"If we keep going like this, the whole country is going to crash," moaned Mario Marcelus, who was trying to reach his family in Gonaives but didn't dare cross the floodwaters.
Rescue convoys had been trying to drive into Gonaives, Haiti's fourth-largest city, but kept turning back because lakes formed over every road into town. On Wednesday, Associated Press journalists accompanied U.N. troops who used Zodiac boats to reach Gonaives, which accounted for most of the 2,000 victims of Tropical Storm Jeanne in 2004.
Floodwaters covered some homes up to their roofs. In a cemetery, only the tops of tombs glimmered beneath the soupy water. The carcasses of dead animals, including a donkey and a cow, floated amid debris as flies swarmed.
About 150 people were crowded into a church. Most retreated to a large balcony above the floodwater, where they waited in misery for the waters to recede.
"There is no food, no water, no clothes," said the 37-year-old pastor, Arnaud Dumas. "I want to know what I'm supposed to do. ... We haven't found anything to eat in two, three days. Nothing at all."
City covered in mud
The Gonaives area, where about 110,000 people live, accounted for most of the 2,000 victims of Tropical Storm Jeanne in 2004. Some residents said the current flooding was at least as bad, and criticized the government for failing to implement safety measures in the past four years.
"This is worse than Jeanne," said Carol Jerome, who fled from Gonaives on Tuesday.
About two-thirds of Gonaives was covered in mud, although it was difficult to determine the extent of the flooding from the air, U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Matt Moorlag said after planes conducted flyovers. Severe weather prevented the planes from assessing the situation in the surrounding mountains, and there was no way to reach the area.
On the ground, men used pieces of styrofoam as kickboards to try to swim out of town. People waited to help along the shores of the newly formed lake, and Interior Minister Paul Antoine Bien-Aime said people stranded on rooftops were becoming increasingly desperate.
"It is a great movement of panic in the city," Bien-Aime told AP as Brazilian soldiers assigned to the 9,000-member U.N. force carried him onto an idling speedboat.
About 1,500 people huddled in a shelter they nicknamed the "Haiti Hilton." Director Jean-Noel Preval said there was no food and was running out of drinking water.
His cousin Jezula Preval gave birth at the shelter to a healthy boy on Tuesday night. Jezula Preval, 23, said she tried to hold out at home, but the rain drove her out and floodwaters eventually swallowed her house.
"I lost everything, even the baby's clothes," she said.
The situation was dire elsewhere in Haiti as well. Floodwaters swamped a hospital near southwestern Les Cayes, and nurses moved patients to higher floors. At least 5,000 people in Les Cayes were in shelters, said Jean-Renand Valiere, a coordinator for the civil protection department.
Aid on the way
The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince declared a disaster situation, freeing $100,000 in emergency aid, spokeswoman Mari Tolliver said. She said hygiene kits, plastic sheeting and water jugs for up to 5,000 families are expected to arrive from Miami on Thursday.
"The biggest problem right now is just getting access to affected areas," she said.
Even as Hanna moved offshore, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Hurricane Ike, in the central North Atlantic, would gain strength as it approached the Caribbean and "could reach major hurricane status" within five days.
Its course remained uncertain, but the most likely track passed just north of the Haitian coastline.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press
'Nothing ... To Celebrate'
Populace Faces Bleak Christmas Amid Food Crisis
By ANGUS SHAW
The Associated Press December 24, 2008
ARARE, Zimbabwe — At overflowing garbage dumps in Zimbabwe's
capital, desperate vagrants pounced on trash bags and fought over chicken bones
and scraps of discarded food. Sewage clogged streets and most shopkeepers didn't even bother with holiday decorations.
In crumbling, largely Christian Zimbabwe, where a cholera epidemic has killed more than 1,100 people, Christmas is just another day of suffering.
"There is nothing for us to celebrate. Christmas is a story of hunger," said Monica Rugare. "It is just another day of poverty, the way we are living today."
The country's Christmas tradition of city dwellers heading to the countryside with gifts of food and clothing for their relatives isn't possible this year. Annual church carol services have been subdued, if they were held at all.
On Tuesday, children found a bit of cheer playing in the stinking water gushing from a broken sewer in the impoverished Harare neighborhood of Braeside.
Ten-year-old Kudzai Urere, ignoring the warnings from cholera-conscious adults as she leaped about in the murky water, said her mother had gone to search for food and would not be home until nightfall.
When she did return, she would be lucky to bring home vegetables, not toys or candy.
Zimbabwe's chaos is opportunity for some. Stories abound of President Robert Mugabe's generals selling the state's diamonds. Another scarce, government-controlled commodity is hard currency. Those close to Mugabe can buy U.S. dollars at the low government rate and sell them on the black market for a hefty profit.
But for most Zimbabweans, the economic collapse of what was once a regional bread basket and food exporter has left millions dependent on international handouts.
The cholera outbreak that has killed more than 1,100 people since August is blamed on the collapse of water and sewage facilities bereft of purification chemicals or spare parts. The waterborne disease should be easy to prevent and treat, but not in a country where medical supplies are scarce and all state hospitals have closed because they can't pay staff enough to cover the commute to work.
Doctors Without Borders listed Zimbabwe's health crisis and continuing economic collapse among its "Top 10 Humanitarian Crises of 2008," noting in a report released this week that life expectancy has plummeted to just 34 years of age, according to U.N figures.
Critics blame Mugabe's policies, including an often-violent campaign, beginning in 2000, to seize white-owned farms and hand them over to veterans of his guerrilla war against white minority rule. Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe for 28 years, blames Western sanctions.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.
Bodies everywhere, no food, no gov't -- 'Haiti has collapsed' [excerpt republished]
[Note: Out of a population of nine million people, 200,000 are dead and one million are displace by a massive earthquake]
By Haviv Rettig Gur
(Jerusalem Post, January 15, 2010) International efforts to scramble aid relief to Haiti have been stymied by transportation bottlenecks and the near-total collapse of local government in the wake of the catastrophic earthquake that struck the Caribbean nation's capital on Tuesday night.
The death toll was estimated on Thursday at between 40,000 and 50,000 by the International Red Cross, though the real number remains unknown.
Israel was rushing rescue forces to the poverty-stricken nation. Two El Al planes took off from Ben-Gurion Airport on Thursday night carrying a 121-member delegation that includes 40 doctors, five search-and-rescue teams, and a K9 rescue squad from the army's Oketz unit. The IDF medical teams are preparing to spend two weeks in Haiti and to see an average of 500 patients a day, Chief IDF Medical Corps Officer Brig.-Gen. Nahman Ash said on Thursday.
OC Home Front Command Brig.-Gen. Shalom Ben-Aryeh, head of the delegation, said there was hope that the search-and-rescue teams would still succeed in rescuing people trapped beneath the rubble. He said that the pictures from Haiti were reminiscent of the last rescue mission Israel launched to India in 2002.
Amos Radian, Israel's ambassador to the neighboring Dominican Republic, arrived in Port-au-Prince on Wednesday and began sending reports back to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post following a five-hour hike across the decimated capital, he related horrors "the likes of which I have never seen in my life."
"There is a strange quiet in the streets," he said. "Thousands of people are sitting in the middle of the street afraid to enter the
buildings. The city is destroyed. You see corpses lying alongside every street corner. People are wandering aimlessly. It's a very difficult sight, and nobody is there to help. I passed a poor residential area, and you could see that the entire mountainside turned into an avalanche and every last home was destroyed," he related.
Passing the collapsed remains of the Montana Hotel, Radian spoke to an American rescue worker who said there was a US diplomat trapped under the rubble who had survived the quake and was sending SMS messages to his family in the United States.
While the rubble stretched for as far as he could see, "I didn't notice a single ambulance or rescue crew in many hours of walking. Going by what I saw in the city, people will be trapped under those ruins for many days."
There are sites, the ambassador said, "that the rescue forces will probably never reach."
The situation was worsened by the complete collapse of the country's communications system.
"Millions of people have been left with no communications. I myself have been working with a satellite phone I borrowed from a friend in the Dominican Republic that I brought with me," he said.
Worse, the earthquake seems to have also led to the near-total collapse of government.
"There is no water, no food, no fuel, and no central government to bring order. The entire law enforcement system has collapsed. Hospitals are in ruins. There is complete anarchy. We don't know who's running the country. Local government is nonexistent."
. . .
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[For an example of how the World's perverse preoccupation with the “plight” of the "Palestinians” at the hands of Israel is responsible for permitting actual genocide to be perpetuated elsewhere without hindrance, please read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Lost in the Palestinians' shadow
By Evelyn Gordon
(Jerusalem Post, January 4, 2007) Recent weeks have brought a great deal of hand-wringing over the World's failure to do anything about the genocide in Darfur [being perpetrated against the black Muslims of that region by the Arab Muslim government of Sudan and allied Arab Muslim militias].
Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, for instance, gave
an address last month in which he bemoaned the fact that "60 years after
the liberation of the Nazi death camps, and 30 years after the Cambodian
killing fields, the promise of 'never again' is ringing hollow. The tragedy of
Darfur has raged for over three years now, and still reports pour in of villages
being destroyed by the hundreds and of the brutal treatment of civilians
spreading into neighboring countries. How can an international community that
claims to uphold human rights allow this horror to continue?"
Similarly, The New York Times ran an editorial last week blasting the international inaction on Darfur. Noting that "the killings and atrocities have spilled across Sudan's borders" into Chad and the Central African Republic, it wrote: "If Darfur's grim tally -- several hundred thousand dead, two million driven from their homes -- can't persuade the World to act, then perhaps the threat of a regional conflagration will."
What is remarkable about all this hand-wringing, however, is that it is coming from two of the institutions most responsible for the World's inaction -- namely, the UN and the media.
That might seem counterintuitive, since neither the UN nor the media themselves have the power to take any effective action: that can only be done by national governments, either within or outside the UN framework. But in reality, no government will engage in difficult, unpleasant action that serves no clear national interest unless forced to do so by an overwhelming pressure of public opinion. And that pressure can only be generated by those who control the world's bully pulpits -- first and foremost, the media and the UN secretary-general.
Instead, however, both institutions have consistently treated Darfur as much less important than other, far less deadly conflicts. Western publics, and therefore their governments, have consequently followed suit.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for instance, has claimed some 5,400 lives -- 4,300 Palestinians and 1,100 Israelis -- over the past six years. That compares to an estimated 400,000 people (no precise statistics exist) killed in Darfur over the last three.
Yet an archives search reveals that The New York Times published only 418 articles on Darfur last year, compared to 2,528 on Israel and 1,146 on the Palestinians (the discrepancy between the latter two stems from Israel's war with Lebanon -- which, using the highest estimates, killed some 1,100 Lebanese and 160 Israelis). That makes Darfur's 400,000 dead, by NYT standards, about one-third as important as 4,300 dead Palestinians.
OTHER LEADING newspapers worldwide acted similarly. The Times of London, for instance, published 142 articles on Darfur last year, compared to 579 on Israel and 248 on the Palestinians. For Le Monde, the figures were 253 [Israel], 500 [Palestinians] and 500 [Darfur]; in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, they were 239 [Israel], 1,898 [Palestinians] and 638 [Darfur]. The Spanish El Pais was particularly egregious: A mere 120 articles on Darfur, compared to 2,730 on Israel and 2,013 on the Palestinians, giving an Israel : Darfur ratio of 23 to 1.
But even these figures understate the skew, because they ignore the equally important issue of prominence. Take, for instance, a pair of articles that appeared two days apart in the NYT's wholly-owned European subsidiary, the International Herald Tribune. One described Israel's accidental shelling of a house in Gaza, killing 18 Palestinians. That merited a four-column headline in large type and 30 column-inches of text. The other reported that over the past week, 220 Chadians had been killed by the same Sudanese militiamen responsible for the Darfur genocide. That merited a mere brief: two inches of text under a small-print, one-column head. If the media considers 18 Palestinian lives to be worth 15 times as much space as 220 slain Chadians, is it surprising that Western governments and publics view the slaughter in Africa as low-priority?
THE UN'S behavior has been similarly warped. The UN Human Rights Council, for instance, finally held its first session on Darfur last month, but declined to condemn the Sudanese government for the slaughter. Yet the council found time to adopt no less than three resolutions condemning Israel this year (even Annan termed this "disproportionate").
Similarly, the General Assembly devoted three full days in November, as it does every year, to debating and condemning the Israeli "occupation." If you cannot recall an equivalent session on Darfur, the problem is not your memory. Altogether, the GA's fall session passed no fewer than 25 resolutions condemning alleged Israeli human rights violations. But it could not be bothered to pass a single resolution condemning the genocide in Darfur.
The UN also has numerous bodies, such as a permanent Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which are devoted exclusively to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and therefore naturally strive to focus attention on it. Palestinian refugees even have an entire agency, UNRWA, all to themselves, while all other refugees worldwide must compete for attention from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. It is thus hardly surprising that Darfur's two million refugees are lost in the Palestinians' shadow.
Finally, there is Annan himself -- who declared last November that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the most important in the world, because "no other conflict carries such a powerful symbolic and emotional charge among people far removed from the battlefield."
If the UN secretary-general considers the "symbolic charge" generated by 4,300 dead Palestinians more important than the actual deaths of some 400,000 Darfur residents, is it surprising that many governments deem the slaughter in Darfur equally trivial?
Like all human beings, those who run governments can only focus on so many issues at one time -- and in democratic countries, they usually choose the ones that dominate the public square.
Thus as long as the UN and the media continue to accord the Darfur genocide such low priority, one can confidently predict that global inaction in the face of this genocide will continue.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: Even Israel is so preoccupied with the “plight” of the “Palestinians” -- which preoccupation has taken the form of an obsession with an illusory “peace process” and its consequences -- that the Jewish State has ignored almost every other issue that ought to concern it. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Civil Fights: The preoccupation continues
By Evelyn Gordon
(Jerusalem Post, November 8, 2007) Commentators these days are increasingly bewailing the state of the country. In Friday's Post, David Kimche justly assailed a host of ills, from poverty to soaring crime to a "floundering" education system to mistreatment of foreign workers. Yoel Marcus did the same in Friday's Haaretz, declaring that Israel has become "a country full of corruption, con men and thieves; a country of violent teenagers walking around on the third week of the teachers' strike with knives in their pockets … a country of wild drivers, fatal accidents and a police force that is never there when you need it … a country where sipping coffee at a nightclub ends in a brawl..."
And while some commentators seem bewildered by the decline, leftists often have a stock culprit: "the occupation." In Kimche's words, "it has corrupted our morals, undermined our values, divided our society, encouraged violence, and drained away billions of dollars." Unfortunately, this explanation presents a problem: "The occupation" is 40 years old, whereas the ills that Kimche and Marcus cite are relatively new. In the late 1980s, for instance, Israel still had an exceptionally low crime rate, relatively modest income gaps and functioning schools, even though a whole generation had by then grown up with "the occupation." Teens who had never known Israel without "the occupation" still felt no need to carry "knives in their pockets"; young soldiers who served three years in the territories nevertheless became upstanding citizens.
Indeed, the deterioration has occurred mainly over the last 15 years, when Israel has been desperately trying to end the occupation.
Nor is this surprising -- because human beings do not have unlimited energies; they can focus on only one or two big issues at a time. And since 1993, the energies of both successive governments and the public have been devoted almost entirely to two issues: trying to solve a conflict that (as I argued two weeks ago) is currently unsolvable, and coping with the disastrous consequences of these efforts.
Yitzhak Rabin, for instance, was elected largely due to domestic problems (a recession) and initially focused on them. But after the Oslo Accord was signed in 1993, domestic issues went by the wayside: His government was fully occupied in negotiating new Israeli-Palestinian agreements (one each in 1994 and 1995), trying to muster Knesset majorities for them, countering massive public opposition and combating the soaring post-Oslo terrorism. The public was similarly preoccupied with these issues, which dominated the 1996 election.
Binyamin Netanyahu's term was perforce devoted to dealing with Oslo's fallout: terrorism, which killed more Israelis in the two and a half years after Oslo than during the entire preceding decade, and an economic crisis (a $6 billion current account deficit) that the Rabin-Peres government had ignored in its obsession with the "peace process."
Moreover, pressure from both the US administration and the Israeli media forced him to invest considerable energy in negotiating further Israeli-Palestinian pacts (1997 and 1999) and suppressing consequent opposition from his own coalition partners. He had no time or energyto spare for major domestic initiatives.
NETANYAHU'S success in reducing terrorism enabled Ehud Barak to win in 1999 by pledging to address domestic problems. Once in office, however, he ignored these issues, focusing instead on the "peace process": withdrawing from Lebanon, negotiating with Syria and the Palestinians. Instead of peace, these efforts produced a terrorist war (and, eventually, the Second Lebanon War as well). But they devoured both the government's and the public's attention and dominated the 2001 election.
Ariel Sharon of necessity spent his first years in office dealing with the terror war and the consequent recession. By late 2003, enough progress had been made to enable other initiatives -- but instead of domestic reforms, he launched the disengagement. For the next two years, both the government and the country were convulsed over this issue. His government's one significant domestic initiative, the Dovrat educational reform, languished for lack of attention.
AND NOW, we have Ehud Olmert, who has also neglected domestic issues to focus on the conflict: first his unilateral withdrawal plan, now the Annapolis conference.
The "peace process" has also had other negative domestic consequences. One is money: Because terrorism soared, so did the defense budget, leaving less for other priorities. Indeed, defense is the largest 2008 budget item, for the first time outstripping even debt servicing. And the disengagement diverted billions of shekels from other needs into relocating army bases and compensating evacuated settlers.
Another negative consequence is social cohesion. While Israel has always had left-right disputes, those of the past 15 years have been especially bitter, due mainly to the democratic deficit that has
characterized the "peace process": Rabin passed Oslo-II by buying the votes of two Knesset members from a right-wing party; Barak went to Washington and Taba after having lost his Knesset majority; Sharon unilaterally withdrew from Gaza after both being elected on an explicit pledge not to do so and losing a referendum that he himself called. The consequent decline in social solidarity has inevitably increased crime and violence.
Moreover, because governments now revolve entirely around the "peace process," coalition partners often disagree vehemently on domestic issues, meaning that few governments could enact domestic reforms even if they so desired. Nor can parties that disagree on the conflict unite around common domestic interests (say, Labor and Likud on electoral reform), because they dare not alienate smaller coalition partners.
Nevertheless, the biggest problem remains the human incapacity to focus on more than one or two big issues at a time. As long as successive governments, and therefore the public, remain obsessed with (a) trying to solve the conflict and (b) picking up the pieces afterward, domestic issues will continue to be neglected, and the problems will only worsen.
Only by reversing our order of priorities and giving domestic problems top billing can these problems be solved - which means accepting that for now, the conflict will only be contained, not ended. But if
leftists like Kimche and Marcus persist in seeing "solving the conflict" as the top priority, the deterioration of the past 15 years will inevitably continue.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: The World believes that they can solve the “plight” of the “Palestinians” by throwing huge amounts of money at their corrupt leadership, but such financial largesse only creates more Arab terrorists. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Fund the Palestinians? Bad idea
By Daniel Pipes
(Jerusalem Post, December 20, 2007) Lavishing funds on Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to achieve peace has been a mainstay of Western, including Israeli, policy since Hamas seized Gaza in June. But this open spigot has counterproductive results and urgently must be stopped.
Some background: Paul Morro of the Congressional Research Service reports that, in 2006, the European Union and its member states gave $815 million to the Palestinian Authority, while the United States sent it $468 million. When other donors are included, the total receipts come to about $1.5 billion.
The windfall keeps growing. President George W. Bush requested a $410 million supplement in October, beyond a $77 million donation earlier in the year. The State Department justifies this lordly sum on the grounds that it "supports a critical and immediate need to support a new Palestinian Authority (PA) government that both the US and Israel view as a true ally for peace." At a recent hearing, Gary Ackerman, chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, endorsed the supplemental donation.
Not content with spending taxpayer money, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice launched a "U.S.-Palestinian Public Private Partnership" on Dec. 3, involving financial heavyweights such as Sandy Weill and Lester Crown, to fund, as Rice put it, "projects that reach young Palestinians directly, that prepare them for responsibilities of citizenship and leadership can have an enormous, positive impact."
One report suggests the European Union has funneled nearly $2.5 billion to the Palestinians this year.
Looking ahead, Abbas announced a goal to collect pledges of $5.8 billion in aid for a three-year period, 2008 - 2010, at the "Donors' Conference for the Palestinian Authority" attended by over 90 states on Monday in Paris. (Using the best population estimate of 1.35 million Palestinians on the West Bank, this comes to a staggering amount of money: per capita, over $1,400 per year, or about what an Egyptian earns annually.)
Endorsed by the Israeli government, Abbas won pledges for an astonishing $7.4 billion (or over $1,800 per capita per year) at the donors' conference.
WELL, IT'S a bargain if it works, right? A few billion to end a dangerous, century-old conflict -- it's actually a steal.
But innovative research by Steven Stotsky, a research analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) finds that an influx of money to the Palestinians has had the opposite effect historically. Relying on World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and other official statistics, Stotsky compares two figures since 1999: budgetary support aid provided annually to the Palestinian Authority and the number of Palestinian homicides annually (including both criminal and terrorist activities, and both Israeli and Palestinian victims). Graphed together, the two figures show an uncanny echo: In brief, each $1.25 million or so of budgetary support aid translates into a death within the year. As Stotsky notes, "These statistics do not mean that foreign aid causes violence; but they do raise questions about the effectiveness of using foreign donations to promote moderation and combat terrorism."
The Palestinian record fits a broader pattern, as noted by Jean-Paul Azam and Alexandra Delacroix in a 2005 article, "Aid and the Delegated Fight Against Terrorism." They found "a pretty robust empirical result showing that the supply of terrorist activity by any country is positively correlated with the amount of foreign aid received by that country" -- i.e., the more foreign aid, the more terrorism.
IF THESE studies run exactly counter to the conventional supposition that poverty, unemployment, repression, "occupation," and malaise drive Palestinians to lethal violence, they do confirm my long-standing argument about Palestinian exhilaration being the problem. The better funded Palestinians are, the stronger they become, and the more inspired to take up arms.
A topsy-turvy understanding of war economics has prevailed in Israel since the Oslo negotiations began in 1993. Rather than deprive their Palestinian enemies of resources, Israelis have been following Shimon Peres's mystical musings, and especially his 1993 tome, [entitled] The New Middle East, to empower them economically. As I wrote in 2001, this "is tantamount to sending the enemy resources while fighting is still under way -- not a hugely bright idea."
Rather than further funding Palestinian bellicosity, Western states, starting with Israel, should cut off all funds to the Palestinian Authority.
The writer is director of the Middle East Forum. www.DanielPipes.org
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: Not only does wealth not equate to pacifism, but neither does education. After all, the founding fathers of the terrorist organizations which comprise the Palestine Liberation Organization were all accomplished men. The first Chairman of the P.L.O. was Ahmed Shukairy -- an attorney and former Saudi diplomat. The second P.L.O. Chairman and the founder of the P.L.O. component known as al-Fatah was Yasser Arafat -- an engineer. The founder of the P.L.O. component known as Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was George Habash -- a medical doctor (and a Christian Arab). The founder of the P.L.O. component known as Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command was Ahmed Jibril -- a major in the Syrian army. And the founding leadership of Hamas, which is not a component of the P.L.O., was likewise filled with accomplished men, such as Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi -- a pediatrician and geneticist, Mahmoud al-Zahar -- a medical doctor, and Ismail Haniyeh -- a dean of the Islamic University of Gaza.]
[Note: By providing generous per capita welfare for Gaza’s growing population, the World has destroyed any incentive for voluntary population control, thereby resulting in an unrelenting increase in that percentage of the population which is young, aggressive and prone to continuing their parents’ multigenerational war against Israel. If the World really cared about the “plight” of the “Palestinians”, then it would wean Gaza away from international welfare and towards self-reliance. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Guest Column: Ending the West's proxy war against Israel
By Gunnar Heinsohn
(Jerusalem Post, February 2, 2009) As the world decries Israel's attempt to defend itself against the rocket attacks coming from Gaza, consider this: When Hamas routed Fatah in Gaza in 2007, it cost nearly 350 lives and 1,000 wounded. Fatah's surrender brought only a temporary stop to the type of violence and bloodshed that are commonly seen in lands where at least 30% of the male population is in the 15-to-29 age bracket.
In such "youth bulge" countries, young men tend to eliminate each other or get killed in aggressive wars until a balance is reached between their ambitions and the number of acceptable positions available in their society. In Arab nations such as Lebanon (150,000 dead in the civil war between 1975 and 1990) or Algeria (200,000 dead in the Islamists' war against their own people between 1999 and 2006), the slaughter abated only when the fertility rates in these countries fell from seven children per woman to fewer than two.
The warring stopped because no more warriors were being born.
In Gaza, however, there has been no such demographic disarmament. The average woman still bears six babies. For every 1,000 men aged 40-44, there are 4,300 boys aged 0-4 years. In the US the latter figure is 1,000, and in the UK it's only 670.
And so the killing continues. In 2005, when Israel was still an occupying force, Gaza lost more young men to gang fights and crime than in its war against the "Zionist enemy." Despite the media's obsession with the Mideast conflict, it has cost many fewer lives than the youth bulges in West Africa, Lebanon or Algeria. In the six decades since Israel's founding, "only" some 62,000 people (40,000 Arabs, 22,000 Jews) have been killed in all the Israeli-Arab wars and Palestinian terror attacks. During that same time, some 11 million Muslims have been killed in wars and terror attacks -- mostly at the hands of other Muslims.
What accounts for the Mideast conflict's relatively low body count? Hamas and their ilk certainly aim to kill as many Israelis as possible. To their indignation, the Israelis are quite good at protecting themselves. On the other hand, Israel, despite all the talk about its "disproportionate" use of force, is doing its utmost to spare civilian deaths. Even Hamas acknowledges that most of the Palestinians killed by Israeli air raids are from their own ranks. But about 10% - 15% of Gaza's casualties are women and minors -- a tragedy impossible to prevent in a densely settled area in which nearly half the people are under 15 and the terrorists hide among them.
THE REASON for Gaza's endless youth bulge is that a large majority of its population does not have to provide for its offspring. Most babies are fed, clothed, vaccinated and educated by UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Unlike the UN High Commission for Refugees, which deals with the rest of the world's refugees and aims to settle them in their respective host countries, UNRWA perpetuates the Palestinian problem by classifying as refugees not only those who originally fled their homes, but all of their descendants as well.
UNRWA is benevolently funded by the US (31%) and the European Union (nearly 50%) -- only 7% of the funds come from Muslim sources. Thanks to the West's largesse, nearly the entire population of Gaza lives in a kind of lowly but regularly paid dependence. One result of this unlimited welfare is an endless population boom. Between 1950 and 2008, Gaza's population has grown from 240,000 to 1.5 million. The West basically created a new Near Eastern people in Gaza that at current trends will reach three million in 2040. Within that period, Gazans may alter the justifications and directions of their aggression but are unlikely to stop the aggression itself.
The Hamas-Fatah truce of June 2007 allowed the Islamists again to direct all their energy on attacking Israel. The West pays for food, schools, medicine and housing, while Muslim nations help out with the military hardware. Unrestrained by such necessities as having to earn a living, the young have plenty of time on their hands for digging tunnels, smuggling, assembling missiles and firing 4,500 of them at Israel since 2006.
While this gruesome activity has slowed the Palestinian internecine slaughter, it forced some 250,000 Israelis into bomb shelters.
THE CURRENT situation can only get worse. Israel is being pushed into a corner. Gazan teenagers have no future other than war. One rocket master killed is immediately replaced by three young men for whom a martyr's death is no less honorable than victory. Some 230,000 Gazan males, aged 15 to 29, who are available for the battlefield now, will be succeeded by 360,000 boys under 15 (45% of all Gazan males) who could be taking up arms within the coming 15 years.
As long as we continue to subsidize Gaza's extreme demographic armament, young Palestinians will likely continue killing their brothers or neighbors. And yet, despite claiming that it wants to bring peace to the region, the West continues to make the population explosion in Gaza worse every year. By generously supporting UNRWA's budget, the West assists a rate of population increase that is 10 times higher than in their own countries. Much is being said about Iran waging a proxy war against Israel by supporting Hizbullah and Hamas. One may argue that by fueling Gaza's untenable population explosion, the West unintentionally finances a war by proxy against the Jews of Israel.
If we seriously want to avoid another generation of war in Gaza, we must have the courage to tell the Gazans that they will have to start looking after their children themselves, without UNRWA's help. This would force Palestinians to focus on building an economy. Of course, every baby lured into the world by our money up to now would still have our assistance.
If we make this urgently needed reform, then by at least 2025 many boys in Gaza -- like in Algeria -- would enter puberty as only sons. They would be able to look forward to a more secure future in a less violent society.
If the West prefers calm around Gaza even before 2025, it may consider offering immigration to those young Palestinians only born because of the West's well-meant but cruelly misguided aid. In the decades to come, North America and Europe will have to take in tens of millions of immigrants anyway to slow the aging of their populations. If, say, 200,000 of them are taken from the 360,000 boys coming of age in Gaza in the next 15 years, that would be a negligible move for the big democracies but a quantum leap for peace in the Near East.
Many of Gaza's young -- like in much of the Muslim world -- dream of leaving anyway. Who would not want to get out of that strip of land but the international NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and social workers whose careers depend on perpetuating Gaza's misery?
The writer heads the Raphael Lemkin Institute at the University of Bremen, Europe's first institute devoted to comparative genocide research. Reprinted with permission of The Wall Street Journal © 2009 Dow Jones & Company. All rights reserved.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: If the World really cares about the “plight” of the “Palestinians”, then it will not pour money into Gaza for its post-war reconstruction. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Perspectives Papers on Current Affairs
February 2, 2009
No to the Reconstruction of Gaza
by Efraim Inbar
The developing international campaign to reconstruct Gaza is strategic folly. It is also unlikely to be effective. And, under current circumstances, it is also immoral.
Since the Hamas takeover of Gaza in June 2007, most of the international community has argued that the best way to prop up the more moderate Palestinian Authority (PA) leader, Mahmoud Abbas, was to ensure economic support for his fiefdom in the West Bank. This, it was said, would make it clear to every Palestinian that Hamas is the “bad guy” unable to bring prosperity. This path would convince Palestinians that it is unwise to support the radical Islamist organization. Under this rationale, the PA has continued to draw unprecedented economic support from the world.
Israel's recent military offensive against Hamas inflicted heavy damage on Gaza. Aside from punishing Hamas for its rocket attacks on Israel, the beating was meant to demonstrate to reasonable Palestinians that Hamas attacks on Israel would only bring them havoc and suffering. Theoretically, the results of Operation Cast Lead would seem to complement the international community's efforts to make the lives of the Palestinians under Mahmoud Abbas better then those of the Gazans.
Yet, this rationale seems to evaporate in a mush of sentimentalist manipulation. Instead of using the tough pictures coming out of Gaza to tell Gazans: "We told you all along that Hamas leadership would only make things worse" (just as it has in other places where radical Islamists gain power), Western leaders seem to have foolishly decided that Gaza should speedily be rebuilt!
This, of course, sends the wrong signal. It tells Palestinians that their leadership can make grave, deadly mistakes, and nevertheless gullible Westerners will bail them out. It also signals to Hamas that it can continue shooting at Israel; for if Israel repeats its military action, merciful Westerners again will repair the damage.
There is no way to reconstruct Gaza without strengthening Hamas. The PA has no standing in the Strip anymore. Aid through the UN is less objectionable, but Hamas will benefit from this too. Which leads us back to square one, because Hamastan must not be rebuilt by the world. The reconstruction of Hamastan in Gaza – an Iranian base that threatens Israel and many moderate Arab regimes – makes no strategic sense.
America helped reconstruct Western Europe and Japan after World War II to make sure they would be ruled by friendly democratic regimes. Hamas is authoritarian and anti-Western. It is simply daft to facilitate the continuation of Hamas rule.
Does the enlightened international community really believe that Mahmoud Abbas is interested in the reconstruction of Gaza and consolidation of the Hamas regime? Is this what the Egyptians and the Saudis are after? Is it not clear that they also prefer the fall of Hamas and will be ready to cooperate against Iranian attempts to channel support to Gaza?
Looking at Palestinian economic performance, it is also clear that reconstruction of Gaza is unlikely to be successful. Since the Oslo process started in 1993, the Palestinians received many billions of euros and dollars, scoring the highest per capita aid in the world. Much of it was squandered by corruption and ineptitude. Very little aid filtered down to the people. Like many Third World countries, the Palestinians lack the legal and institutional infrastructure needed for effective dispersal of economic aid. Gaza is behind the West Bank in its development, making it an even less suitable candidate for effective international aid. Nevertheless, the standard of living of the Gazans is still higher than the Egyptians.
From what we know of the fortunes of the humanitarian aid transferred to Gazans in recent years, it is clear that a large proportion of the benefits of the external aid will be siphoned off to the Hamas leadership, followed by Hamas activists; and only what is left will go to the destitute. Those with arms always get the first and best cut from international aid sent to the suffering.
Finally, the morality of pouring money so that Gazans can live better is questionable as long as Hamas does not stop its terrorism against Israel and the smuggling of weapons. Unfortunately, Hamas was popular among the Gazans and continues to be so. Moreover, all polls show staggering support among Gazans for violence against Israelis. What moral justification exists for helping people that support an organization intent on destroying the Jewish state and who are actively engaged in killing innocent Israeli citizens?
The international community must think strategically with regard to Gaza, and not be drawn into sentimental escapades of rebuilding and humanitarian assistance that undercut our paramount strategic goals. It is time for tough love for Gaza.
Prof. Inbar is director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.
BESA Perspectives is published through the generosity of the Littauer Foundation.
To subscribe to BESA Perspectives please send your first and last name to firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Note: On the same day that Hamas publicly mocks Israel for not responding to the incessant rocket and mortar fire emanating from Gaza, Israel’s prime minister appears on an Arab television network in order to beg the Gazans to stop the barrage before Israel is forced (by inevitable domestic pressure) to respond. How strange! It seems that the internationally-acclaimed “victim” is welcoming War, while the internationally-condemned “aggressor” is pining for Peace? Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Hamas mocks Israel's nonresponse to Kassams
Dec. 25, 2008
Khaled Abu Toameh, THE JERUSALEM POST
Hamas on Wednesday remained as defiant as ever and said it would continue to fire rockets at Israel as an act of "self-defense."
Hamas also mocked what it described as the "state of confusion" in Israel over how to react to the latest spree of rocket and mortar attacks.
The movement also claimed that the Egyptians had given Israel a "green light" to launch a limited military operation in the Gaza Strip to overthrow the Hamas government.
"Israel will pay a heavy price for its crimes against the Palestinians," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. "Israel's actions enhance our determination to pursue the path of resistance through all means available."
Barhoum said that Hamas has placed all its security forces and militias on high alert to thwart an IDF invasion of the Gaza Strip.
The armed wing of Hamas, Izzadin Kassam, said it would not be deterred by Israel's threats of a military operation. The group also threatened to expand the range of its rockets and missiles so that they would reach more Israeli communities.
"We won't succumb to the logic of threats made by the Zionist war criminals," the group said in a leaflet. "Today we are prepared more than ever to foil any aggression against our people."
The Hamas wing also warned that if Israel carried out its threats it would face a "volcano of fury that would turn the Zionists' tears into blood."
Boasting that it had fired dozens of rockets and mortars at Israeli towns in the past few days, the group pointed out that Israel was "hopeless and desperate" because it doesn't know what to do to stop the attacks.
"The enemy is in a state of confusion and doesn't know what to do," the leaflet read. "Their fragile cabinet has met in a desperate attempt to stop the rockets while thousands of settlers have found refuge in shelters which, by God's will, will become their permanent homes."
Hamas legislator and spokesman Mushir al-Masri said Wednesday's rocket attacks on Ashkelon and nearby communities were a warning message to Israel as to what awaits it when and if it decides to enter the Gaza Strip.
He too threatened that Israel would pay a "heavy price" if it launched an attack.
"Israel's threats don't scare us," he said. "We're not afraid of assassinations and invasions and we are prepared to sacrifice our leaders."
Al-Masri held Israel responsible for the collapse of the cease-fire by refusing to reopen the border crossings into the Gaza Strip and pursuing its policy of targeting Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank.
In another development, a top Hamas official in Gaza City told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday that the Egyptians have given Israel a "green light" to target Hamas figures and installations.
The official claimed that Egyptian Intelligence Chief Gen. Omar Suleiman told Defense Ministry envoy Amos Gilad last week that Cairo would not oppose a "limited operation" that would lead to the downfall of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.
The allegation by the Hamas official followed a report in the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, in which Suleiman was quoted as saying that the time has come to "teach the Hamas leaders a good lesson."
Citing "informed" Palestinian sources, the report added that Suleiman made it clear to Gilad that Egypt was not opposed to a limited operation that would bring down the Hamas regime.
The report said that Suleiman was furious with Hamas because of the movement's last-minute decision to boycott a "national reconciliation" conference he was planning to convene in Cairo in early November.
According to the newspaper, Suleiman referred to Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal as the head of a "gang" and said told Gilad that Cairo would like to see the movement's leaders punished.
"The Hamas leaders have become very arrogant," the report quoted the Egyptian official as saying. "It's time to teach these leaders a lesson so that they would wake up from their dreams."
Copyright 1995- 2008 The Jerusalem Post
Olmert to Gazans: Tell Hamas to stop
Dec. 25, 2008
Herb Keinon, THE JERUSALEM POST
In what sounded like a last ditch appeal, [Israeli] Prime Minister Ehud Olmert turned directly to Gaza Strip residents Thursday with a request to "stop it."
"I say to you in a last minute call, stop it," Olmert said in an interview Thursday on the Arab satellite [television] station al-Arabiya. "Stop it, you the citizens of Gaza, you can stop it. I know how much you want to get up in the morning to quiet, to take your children to kindergarten or school, the way we do, the way they want to in Sderot and Netivot."
In the unusual direct appeal, Olmert said Hamas was the enemy not only of Israel, but also of Gaza.
"We want to live as good neighbors with Gaza," he said. "We don't want to harm you, and we will not allow a humanitarian crisis where you will suffer from a lack of food and medicine. We don't want to fight with the Palestinian people, but we will not allow Hamas to strike our children."
Olmert said that Israel had a great deal of might, which it did not want to use, but would not hesitate to employ against Hamas and Islamic Jihad. He said he did not want to detail what Israel would do.
"Don't let Hamas, which is acting against the values of Islam, put you in danger," he said. Stop them. Stop your enemies and ours. Tell them to stop firing on innocent civilians."
Copyright 1995- 2008 The Jerusalem Post
[Note: Why doesn’t the “Zionist oppressor” utilize this situation as the “perfect excuse" to complete its long-planned “genocide” against Gaza? And why is “improverished, suffering” Gaza taunting the all-powerful “Zionist beast”? The answer may be discerned in the fact that Hamas resides in two separate universes simultaneously. In the Jihad Universe, Hamas is the destroyer of Israel. This requires Hamas to perpetrate spectacular atrocities against the Jewish State. Its primary audience in this universe is the Arab and larger (non-Arab) Muslim worlds. In the Victimhood Universe, Hamas is the victim of Israel. This requires Hamas to wail that Gaza is under an Israeli “siege” and, consequently, barely a step away from mass starvation and pestilence. Its primary audience in this universe is the Christian (more commonly known as the Western) world. The Gazan rocket and mortar fire actually commenced in January 2001 and has continued unabated -- with greater or lesser intensity -- to the present time even though, in August 2005, Israel expelled all 8,500 Jews then resident in Gaza and withdrew every Israeli soldier who was then stationed there, thereby terminating the “Occupation”. However, in view of Hamas’ continued bombardment of Jewish population centers (which is itself predicated upon the Hamas Charter which calls for Israel’s destruction), Hamas’ June 2006 breach of the Gaza border fence which allowed it to murder several Israeli soldiers and kidnap one for ransom (whom it still holds as a hostage), and Hamas’ June 2007 violent coup against the Palestinian Authority in Gaza which placed Hamas in sole control of Gaza, it is only natural that Israel thereafter decided to keep its various border crossing points (which have also been targeted by Gazan rocket and mortar fire) closed to Gazans. This prudent closure -- in response to rockets, mortars, murder and kidnapping -- is the so-called “siege”. Nonetheless, despite those continuing attacks, Israel -- except when in the midst of a barrage against it and/or its crossing points -- has continued to supply Gaza through those crossing points with regular humanitarian shipments of potable water, fuel, electricity, food and medical suppies (donated by the United Nations and various countries), and even tens of millions of dollars in cash (in order to protect Gaza’s banking system); and Israel has also permitted thousands of ill Gazans to enter Israel for advanced medical treatment. And whatever Gaza does not receive from or through Israel, it receives via hundreds of underground tunnels running between Gaza and Sinai. Although Hamas claims that its rocket and mortar fire against Israel is a merely a justified response to the “siege”, this assertion is false for three reasons: (1) Hamas’ bewailing of the “siege” is a mendacious inversion of cause and effect; (2) there is no true siege; and (3) in light of Egypt’s closure of its own border crossing point with Gaza, if rocket and mortar fire were really a justified response to the “siege”, then Hamas would also be firing upon Egypt (which it has neither done nor threatened to do), as that nation is the one which completes the “siege”. Yet, the United Nations, international “humanitarian” organizations, many countries, and the international media have continued to uncritically support Hamas’ false narrative. That being the case, the Christian world’s dogmatic refusal to view the “Palestinians” as anything other than a “victim” of Israel permits the former to assault the latter without fear of the consequences (whether military, political or economic) which would otherwise ensue. This is precisely why the “victim” is prerogatived to be bellicose, while the “aggressor” is reduced to begging.]
[Note: A few days after I penned the above commentary, Israel finally began to retaliate against Gazan rocket and mortar fire by bombing Hamas targets throughout Gaza. In the below analysis, an Egyptian Muslim (living in the United States) excoriates Muslim hypocrisy and Gazan “Victimhood”. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Gaza solution is in the hands of Palestinians
Dec. 31, 2008
Tawfik Hamid, THE JERUSALEM POST
After Israel launched its military attack on Hamas military installations in Gaza in response to repeated attacks on Israeli civilians, the Arab street wasted no time in demonstrating with passion against Israel. In Europe, many Westerners also took part in the protests.
As an Egyptian Muslim now living in America, I ask myself why the Arab street and its supporters in the West never show similarly strong response against Islamic terrorists who target innocents worldwide and explode markets full of predominantly Muslim civilians in Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, Turkey, etc. When you consider that the Israeli attack killed some 400 mostly Hamas militant in the first four days, the passive attitude of the Muslim world against the terrorists represents extreme hypocrisy.
If it truly cared for Muslims' lives, it should have demonstrated in the same numbers and with equal vehemence against the Islamists who murder hundreds of thousands of their fellow Muslims, not to mention the [“Palestinian”] Hamas slaughter of rival [“Palestinian”] Fatah members [when, in June 2007, Hamas violently overthrew Gaza’s Fatah-controlled government] -- women and children included.
Another question is why we have not seen a similarly strong reaction against the terrorists who conducted the latest attack in Mumbai. Many Indians, Westerners and Jews were killed. Yet there was no spontaneous eruption of outrage and demonstrations in Europe to denounce the attacks as in the case of Gaza. Are these lesser lives than those of the Palestinians? Where is the organized public fury for the wanton killing of Indians and Jews?
We have witnessed the burning of churches in Iraq at the hands of jihadists. We also know that thousands of Christian Iraqis have fled because the Islamists imposed on them the traditional Shari'a choice for non-Muslims: Convert to Islam, pay a humiliating tax (jizzia), or be killed. Yet, we have not heard any thing from the Arab street or its supporters. Only stone silence. Are Palestinian lives worth more than those of Christians in Iraq?
An insular tribal mentality still governs the Muslim world, and there is no willingness to demonstrate against fellow Muslims, even against those who have committed great crimes against other Muslims. And Europe is too eviscerated to come to the aid of Christian victims of anti-"infidelism."
Then there is plain old anti-Semitism. It is so easy to demonstrate against the Jews or Israel and extremely rare to see demonstrations in support of Jewish victims, such as the altruistic rabbi and his wife who were singled out for special torture in Mumbai by the Islamists. It does the bloodstained European conscience good to be able to point a finger at supposed Israeli "aggression" to help alleviate some of its own lingering guilt.
The Muslim world and the Europeans who support the demonstrations against Israel must stop the biased reaction that blindly and reflexively supports the Palestinians and villifies Israel. Those who demonstrate against the military campaign on Gaza must realize that if Hamas had stopped pounding Israel with its rockets, Israel would not have launched its attack. If the Palestinians focused on building their society rather than destroying those of others, the whole region would enjoy peace and flourish. Should Palestinians recognize the right of Israel to exist, end terrorism against Jews and nurture a sincere desire to live in peace, they would end their suffering. The solution now is simply in the hands of the Palestinians -- not the Israelis.
The writer, a medical doctor and Muslim reformer, is the author of Inside Jihad.
Copyright 1995- 2009 The Jerusalem Post
[Note: The author might have added that the World also seems unconcerned when -- as reported elsewhere in this compendium -- “Palestinian” Muslims are persecuted and massacred in Iraq and Lebanon.]
[Note: It has been proven over and over again that those who falsely claim to be human rights activists do not want to concern themselves with any of the hardships inflicted upon “Palestinians” by other Arabs. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
A View From Israel: When fools rush in
By ISRAEL KASNETT
So-called human rights activists the world over have for years been duped by Palestinians into viewing Israel as the enemy.
(Jerusalem Post, April 19, 2012) So-called human rights activists the world over have for years been duped by Palestinians into believing that they are fighting an evil Israeli enemy.
The recent Welcome to Israel 2012 campaign launched worldwide to encourage anti-Israel activists to fly to Israel is but one of many attempts, such as the infamous Mavi Marmara incident, to challenge Israel’s sovereignty.
The organizers of the campaign said that they had no plans to stage demonstrations.
One volunteer coordinator said that the planned activities included laying the foundations for a school, mural painting, helping Palestinian villagers plant trees, and attending cultural and artistic workshops.
Arriving activists supposedly were asked not to lie about the reason for their visit.
Clearly, some activists did lie as they managed to get through checkpoints set up specifically to prevent them from reaching their destination.
The Public Diplomacy Ministry rightly printed flyers saying: “Dear activist, we appreciate your choosing to make Israel the object of your humanitarian concerns. We know there were many other worthy choices. You could have chosen to protest the Syrian regime’s daily savagery against its own people, which has claimed thousands of lives.
“You could have chosen to protest the Iranian regime’s brutal crackdown on dissent and support of terrorism throughout the world.
You could have chosen to protest Hamas rule in Gaza, where terror organizations commit a double war crime by firing rockets at civilians and hiding behind civilians.
“But instead you chose to protest against Israel, the Middle East’s sole democracy, where women are equal, the press criticizes the government, human rights organizations can operate freely, religious freedom is protected for all and minorities do not live in fear.”
The point is clear. You cannot be human rights activists if Israel is the country of your choosing. The current conflict is not a blanket human rights issue.
THESE SO-CALLED activists have yet to demonstrate concern for real human rights abuses taking place daily around the world.
What about the 150 Afghan schoolgirls who were poisoned by conservative radicals opposed to female education, after drinking contaminated water at a high school in the country’s north? What about Mohammed Nabil Taha, an 11-year-old Palestinian boy who died last year at the entrance to a Lebanese hospital after doctors refused to help him because his family could not afford to pay for medical treatment? What about the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who live in squalid refugee camps in Lebanon and who are the victims of an apartheid system that denies them access to work, education and medical care? And Lebanon is not the only Arab country guilty of this flagrant violation of human rights.
Last week, Jordan decided to revoke the Jordanian citizenship of Palestinian Authority and PLO officials at the same time that a new electoral law in Jordan seeks to limit Palestinian representation in parliament. All this is meant to complete the divorce from Palestinians that Jordan’s King Hussein began in 1988.
And over 1,000 Palestinians have been stranded along the border between Syria and Jordan for the past few weeks as they attempt to escape from the mass murder currently taking place in Syria. But Jordanian authorities refuse to allow them entry.
Where are the human rights activists? Where is the “concerned” Israeli Left? ALL CITIZENS of Israel – regardless of their race, religion or sex – enjoy equal human rights and protection under the law.
These foreign provocateurs ignore this fact and effectively ignore Israel’s right to self-defense, make unsubstantiated claims regarding its intent and challenge Israel’s democratic values and rule of law.
The Left blindly fights for the rights of activists purportedly fighting for human rights.
Sure, they say, let these activists into the country. Then the world will cheer Israel for being so open to expression.
As was proven just a few days ago, anti- Israel provocateurs did not come here to peacefully stand on the roadside holding placards. They came instead to disrupt the daily lives of citizens and create difficulties for IDF patrols.
It does not matter what Israel does right. The world will always find something wrong.
That in itself is not problematic, as all democracies have their issues. Rather, the obsessive focus on Israel while the countries surrounding it commit real human rights violations against Palestinians living within their borders only solidifies the argument that these so-called activists care very little about Palestinians. Were this the case, they would be found on Jordan’s border with Syria insisting on equal rights for the Palestinians stuck there.
They would be hollering in Lebanon against government mistreatment of the Palestinian population there.
But the activists are not there. They are here. In the only democracy in the Middle East. In the only country that offers the same level of medical care to the suicide bomber and his victims.
They are protesting against a country that offers shelter to gay Palestinians escaping their brutal culture. Women seeking Israeli shelter from threats of “honor killings” is common as well.
And the Israeli Left has not said much about the brutalization of Palestinians elsewhere.
Their focus on Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank comes as a result of their problem with Israel – not their love for Palestinians.
Therefore, it must be concluded, these concerned individuals are really only interested in furthering their anti-Israel campaign because they hate Israel – not because they love Palestinians.
In reality, both groups are wasting their time. Foreign and Israeli activists supposedly concerned with human rights violations should focus on the countries where such violations actually take place on a daily basis.
Israel needs to continue the development of a policy on how to deal with anti-Israel activists. The preemptive moves Israel took last week to prevent the arrival of many activists proved successful and this is certainly a good first step in Israel’s struggle against foreign provocateurs.
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Lebanon has decided to build a wall around the country’s largest Palestinian refugee camp. Authorities have claimed the wall is a security measure, while detractors have argued it’s a barrier that isolates Palestinians
Lebanon's military announced the construction of the wall on Monday and that it will take approximately 15 months to complete. The refugee camp, named Ain al-Helweh, is located in southern Lebanon near the city of Sidon.
"The construction of the wall began some time ago and the aim is to stop the infiltration of terrorists inside Ain al-Helweh from nearby orchards," said a source from Lebanon's military to the AFP news agency.
Lebanese armed forces are not authorized to enter the camp and the government claims fugitives are residing within it. Loyalists belonging to various political factions live in the camp - recently there was fighting between Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement and the Jund al-Sham Islamist group. Palestinians leaving the camp have to be inspected by Lebanese authorities.
The camp's population in the early 2000's was hovering around 70,000 residents. This changed when the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, causing the population to swell to 120,000 people. The war displaced many of the Palestinian refugees living in Syria, forcing them to move to the camps like al-Helweh in Lebanon.
Controversy on social media
The move brought out condemnation in much of the Arab-speaking world, particularly on social media. Many are calling it the "wall of shame."
"For the record, the same Lebanon that can't sort out its trash has the capability to build a wall of shame around the Palestinian Ain al-Helweh camp," said Twitter user Sherazade Bareda, with pictures of the wall being constructed. She's referring to when Lebanon closed one of its landfills last year in the city of Naameh, which then resulted in an eight-month crisis where trash piled up in the capital, Beirut. The crisis subsided in March 2016, when crews finally began to pick up the trash.
"The Lebanese authorities are building an apartheid wall surrounding the Ain al-Helweh camp in Sidon," tweeted an account called Yarmouk News. Commentators on social media have used the term apartheid to describe the wall, claiming that it isolates and separates the Palestinians in the camp from the rest of Lebanese society.
After the war of Arab-Israeli war of 1948, many displaced Palestinians were forced to flee to Lebanon. The majority of these Palestinians remain stateless refugees even today. The United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) provides food, medicine, education and other necessities to the Palestinian population in Lebanon. The Lebanese government bars Palestinians from taking white-collar jobs such as in the law and engineering fields. Palestinian refugees in Jordan, on the other hand, are eligible for Jordanian citizenship.
Lebanese security concerns
Lebanon's government has been wary of its Palestinian population since its 15-year-long civil war between 1975 and 1990. The multisectarian country is composed of Maronite Christians, Sunni and Shia Muslims as well as other religious groups. The civil war saw these factions pitted against each other.
Ain al-Helweh currently faces some of the biggest issues in the eyes of Lebanese authorities. Assassinations are frequent as Fatah and Islamist groups like Jund al-Sham clash. In April, a car bomb went off in the camp. There's also been claims that groups such as al-Qaeda and the so-called "Islamic State" are recruiting within the confines of the camp.
Lebanon also faces a worsening security situation as the civil war in neighboring Syria rages. Authorities hope the wall around the camp will be another precaution to keep the country stable in an unsecure region.
© 2016 Deutsche Welle
[Note: The Syrian airforce has not only bombed the Yarmouk “refugee camp”, which is a residential neighborhood of Damascus populated by “Palestinians”, but it has also destroyed one the “refugee camp” mosques, killing at least 25 of the “Palestinians” hiding inside. Yet, the worldwide “Palestinian” progaganda and “human rights” machine has been mostly silently about this atrocity. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
'Syrian jets bomb Palestinian camp, killing 25'
By REUTERS AND JPOST.COM STAFF
16/12/2012 [December 16, 2012]
Activists say fighter jets hit Palestinian refugee camp, mosque, killing 25 people; Palestinian Authority condemns attack.
BEIRUT - Syrian fighter jets rocketed the Palestinian Yarmouk camp in Damascus on Sunday, killing at least 25 people sheltering in a mosque in an area where Syrian rebels have been trying to advance on the capital, opposition activists said.
They said the deaths resulted from a rocket hitting a mosque in the camp, to which refugees have fled from other fighting in nearby suburbs of Damascus. It was the first reported aerial attack on the camp since the revolt against Syrian President Bashar Assad erupted last year.
Yarmouk, in southern Damascus, is part of an arc sweeping from the east to southwest of the Syrian capital where Assad's forces have been trying for several weeks to push back rebels from the gates of his power base.
A video posted on Youtube shows bodies and body parts scattered on the stairs of what appears to be the mosque.
Syria is the home of more that 500,000 Palestinian refugees, most of them living in Yarmouk. Assad's government and Syrian rebels have enlisted and armed Palestinians refugees during the 21-month uprising, which has escalated into a civil war.
Heavy fighting broke out 12 days ago between Palestinians loyal to Assad and Syrian rebels, together with a brigade of Palestinian fighters known as Liwaa al-Asifah (Storm Brigade).
The fighting intensified on Saturday with rebels gaining ground inside the camp, forcing Ahmed Jibril, a veteran leader of a Damascus-based Palestinian faction that back Assad to leave the capital with his son.
Jibril's PFLP-GC has maintained strong ties to Assad throughout the uprising, unlike the Islamist Hamas movement whose Damascus-based officials - including leader-in-exile Khaled Mashaal - quietly pulled out of Syria as the mainly Sunni Muslim revolt against Assad gained momentum.
The Palestinian Authority condemned the Syrian fighter jet attack on the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus on Sunday, Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported.
According to Ma'an, senior PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo told Reuters the PA hold Syrian President Bashar Assad and his regime "responsible for this crime," adding that the attack shows the regime knows "no limits in its approach to criminal murder and destruction."
"In the Yarmouk refugee camp massacre and everywhere in Syria, the international community must put an end to a system of murder and terrorism in Syria before they burn the whole region," Ma'an quoted the PA official as saying.
"We are following up with our people in Syria about the conditions on the ground and we will take all measures that enable us to protect our people at all levels," Abed Rabbo was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Syrian warplanes bombed the town of Azaz close to the Turkish border on Sunday, destroying at least five homes, causing hundreds of people to flee and stirring panic at a Syrian refugee camp just inside Turkey, Turkish officials said.
Most of the bombs hit the center of Azaz, around three kilometres (two miles) from the Turkish border in an area dominated by Syrian rebels, but at least one landed 500 meters from Turkish soil, one official said.
"It is very close to the Turkish border ... There was also some bombing in the center of Azaz. Around 500 people were trying to come into Turkey," he said.
All rights reserved © 1995 - 2012 The Jerusalem Post.
[Note: 50,000 “Palestinians” are being expelled from Syria to Lebanon, but because the Jewish State is not responsible for this expulsion, the World remains largely silent. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Palestinians flee to Lebanon after jet bombs Syria's largest refugee camp
PLO officials say Assad regime's attack marks 'historic moment' with former ally as 50,000 Palestinians expected from Yarmouk
Martin Chulov in Beirut
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 18 December 2012 21.03 GMT
The Sabra-Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, which is bracing for an influx of Syrian-based Palestinians fleeing heavy fighting in Yarmouk camp, Damascus. Photograph: Sam Tarling
Thousands of Palestinians in Syria are fleeing Damascus after an attack on the country's largest refugee camp, according to survivors who have reached Lebanon.
Some of those who have made it to the relative safety of Beirut claim the attack marks a "historical moment" in the Syrian war that has shattered the regime's claim to be a patron of resistance against Israel.
The fallout from the attack on the Yarmouk refugee camp in south-west Damascus on Sunday night is now reaching beyond Syria's borders, with Lebanon and Jordan braced for a fresh refugee crisis.
About 1,000 Palestinians had reached Lebanon less than 48 hours after a Syrian jet bombed a mosque and a school inside Yarmouk camp, the first time the large, sprawling section of the capital had been targeted from the air and only the second time it had been struck since the civil war began. The air strike is believed to have killed about 25 people and wounded several dozen more.
The new arrivals say they fear that authority in the Syrian capital is starting to crumble. They are now openly hostile towards a regime that had long portrayed itself as the protector of the 500,000 Palestinians living in Syria, most of whom had called Yarmouk home until now.
"No Palestinian will trust them anymore after what they did on Sunday," said Abu Khalil, a father of three who has taken refuge in the infamous Beirut refugee camp Sabra-Shatila. "All of us accept that blood has been drawn between us and the regime. There is a debt to settle. It will never be like it was."
Abu Khalil and his extended family of 15, now refugees for a second time in a lifetime, say the attack has repulsed Palestinians who had enjoyed the patronage of the Assad regime for more than 40 years but had increasingly been expected to openly align with them.
Abu Khalil offered an account of what took place on Sunday in the hours before the attack and in the frenetic aftermath, which has led to unprecedented criticism of the regime from most Palestinian factions.
"Since the summer, the two intelligence bases in the camp, air force intelligence and political security, were opened as recruitment centres for anyone who wanted to join Ahmed Jibril," he said. "Anyone who did was given a gun."
Ahmed Jibril runs the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine–General Command, a faction that has remained loyal to the Assad regime and is hostile to the main Palestinian organisational body, the PLO.
"There had been no fighting inside the camp at all until Sunday," he said. "There were clashes on the outskirts, but the Free Syria Army had not entered the camp at all. They only came in after the air strike."
About 3,000 members of the Free Syria Army and the al-Qaida-aligned Jabhat al-Nusra are now inside the camp, Abu Khalil said. He claimed only 500 residents remain, with most having sought refuge in homes, schools and mosques elsewhere in Damascus.
Jibril had about 1,000 armed men but only 150 of them were fighting with him on Sunday," he said. "They fled after a few hours.
"Some of the rebels who came in after the attack spoke with strange dialects. Others had beards, like jihadists. They were all telling us not to worry. It was the first time we had seen any opposition member in Yarmouk."
Abu Khalil's mother, who called herself Um Hassan, said warnings broadcast from mosques in Yarmouk early on Sunday had given residents two hours to leave.
Many had done just that, she said. However, others had sought refuge in a mosque and remained behind. Syrians who had fled from battlezones elsewhere in Syria were staying in a nearby school. They also chose to stay. Both groups were hit by bombs dropped from jets.
"We left at 7am on Monday and got to Sabra-Shatila at 3.30am [on Tuesday]," said Abu Khalil. "It was the biggest humiliation I have ever felt. We left with only the clothes on our backs.
"Three weeks ago we watched the ugly scenes as the Israelis bombed Gaza. We know what to expect with them. But I can't describe the feeling of Muslims attacking Muslims. It was a historical moment."
Palestinian leaders in Lebanon say they are bracing for the arrival of 50,000 refugees from Yarmouk, an influx that would seriously strain resources inside the country's 12 established camps. Such numbers could also potentially upset the delicate sectarian balance in the still-brittle country, where sect numbers are bitterly contested and often used as political tools.
Unlike in Lebanon, Syria's Palestinians had largely enjoyed equal rights as citizens, with access to homes, healthcare and other trappings of state.
Their treatment has often been showcased by regime officials as a sign of Syria's support for a people who have remained at odds with their sworn enemy, Israel. The regime's far-reaching support for Hezbollah has been the second dimension of its resistance credentials.
The Yarmouk attack is also being seen as a turning point by senior Palestinian officials in Lebanon. Qassem Hassan, the general secretary of the PLO in Sabra-Shatila, said: "We sense a very bad smell to this. Why this is happening, we can't understand. The PLO had taken a position not to support the regime or the other side.
"We did not interfere in the affairs of Syria and they shouldn't have interfered in ours. A volcano has erupted here. Is this part of a plan to reorganise the Middle East? We don't know. But it is a very big event."
© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
[Note: The Palestinian Authority is so “concerned” about the “plight” of the “Palestinians” that it has rejected Israel’s offer to permit desperate “Palestinian” Arabs fleeing Syria to relocate to Judea, Samaria and Gaza via Israeli land crossings, explaining that it is better for those “Palestinians” to die in Syria than to renounce their “right of return” to Israel. Read on! – Mark Rosenblit]
Palestinian president rejects Israel's conditional offer to resettle refugees from Syria
Palestinian leader rejects deal on Syria refugees
By MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH | Associated Press | Jan 10, 2013
The Palestinian president said he has rejected a conditional Israeli offer to let Palestinian refugees in war-torn Syria resettle in the West Bank and Gaza, charging it would compromise their claims to return to lost homes in Israel.
Palestinians in Syria are descendants of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled or were driven from their homes in the war that followed Israel's creation in 1948. Uprooted Palestinians and their offspring, now numbering several million people, cite U.N. resolutions in claiming the right to return to the property they left behind.
Abbas said he asked U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon last month to seek Israeli permission to bring Palestinians caught in Syria's civil war to the Palestinian territories. The request came after fighting between Syrian troops and rebel fighters in Yarmouk, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria. About half of the camp's 150,000 residents have fled, according to a U.N. aid agency.
Abbas told a group of Egyptian journalists in Cairo late Wednesday that Ban contacted Israel on his behalf.
Abbas said Ban was told Israel "agreed to the return of those refugees to Gaza and the West Bank, but on condition that each refugee ... sign a statement that he doesn't have the right of return (to Israel)."
"So we rejected that and said it's better they die in Syria than give up their right of return," Abbas told the group. Some of his comments were published Thursday by the Palestinian news website Sama.
Officials in Israel's Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister's Office declined comment Thursday.
The Israeli condition linked to the resettlement offer made it impossible for Abbas to accept, said Ahmed Hanoun, an official in the refugee department of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the umbrella group Abbas heads.
"I think the Israelis were not serious about this offer," said Hanoun. "If they were, they would have endorsed the return of these people who live in misery, and not to blackmail them to relinquish their legal rights."
U.N.-mediated contacts between Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas concerning the Palestinians in Syria marked the first time in years the two sides have dealt with a practical problem linked to the refugee issue.
Bringing tens of thousands of Palestinians from Syria to the Palestinian territories would be a large burden, as Abbas' self-rule government is dealing with a severe financial crisis, while t