Terrorist who killed baby released from prison two months ago

September 29, 2003


1. Islamic Jihad member Mahmoud Hamedan, was released from an Israeli prison two months ago
2. Does the BBC purposely draft its headlines in keeping with an agenda to whitewash acts of terror against Jews?
3. Shaked Avraham
4. European Union funds
5. "Israel's bouncers tackle bombers at 2.50 an hour" (Sunday Times, U.K., Sept. 28, 2003)
6. "Dahlan: Armed struggle - a mistake" (By Khaled Abu Toameh, The Jerusalem Post, with the Associated Press, Sept. 29, 2003)

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is a follow-up to my dispatch of Saturday "Terrorist shoots dead 7-month old girl during Rosh Hashanah meal."

1. It has now been revealed that the terrorist who carried out the attack, Islamic Jihad member Mahmoud Hamedan, was released from an Israeli prison two months ago. It will be recalled that Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, under relentless pressure from the Bush administration, the UN, European leaders, and international media such as the BBC, released hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in early summer even though the release of Palestinian prisoners was NOT a stipulation of the "Road Map."

2. In addition to the US and UK newspaper headlines sent out in my dispatch of Saturday, please note the following (courtesy of HonestReporting):

- The BBC's headline, "Three Dead in West Bank Attack," presents a gross moral equivalence between the terrorist and victims - all of whom are grouped together, without specifying that one of the "three dead" murdered the other two and the terrorist was shot in an act of self-defense as he continued to open fire on other Israeli civilians celebrating the Jewish new year. The BBC headline fails to identify either the (Palestinian) attacker or the (Jewish) victims. Nor does BBC mention that one victim was a baby. Does the BBC purposely draft its headlines in keeping with an agenda to whitewash acts of terror against Jews?

3. Reuters included this background information to rationalize the terrorist act:

"Palestinians regard Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as major obstacles to peace and have regularly attacked them."

Reuters' description suggests that Palestinian terrorists perpetrate the willful murder of civilians out of a quest for peace.

TG adds: the biggest obstacle to peace is by definition this kind of murderous attack, not that a 7 month old baby celebrates the Jewish new year with her parents.

4. The dead baby girl, Shaked Avraham, was buried yesterday evening. Two other Israelis were seriously wounded in the attack. The other murdered Israeli, Eyal Yeberbaum, 27, was laid to rest at midnight in Rehovot, south of Tel Aviv. Shaked means "Almond" in Hebrew.

5. The attacker carried an M-16 with telescopic sight. This shows the premeditated nature of the murders. One third of the funds supplied to the Palestinian Authority (which it uses to buy such weapons) are donated by the European Union. (See my further dispatch on the European Union and Palestinian terror later this week.)


I attach three further items:

1. "Letter to the Boston Globe."

2. "Israel's bouncers tackle bombers at 2.50 an hour" (Sunday Times, U.K., September 28, 2003). This article profiles one of the 45,000 security guards that have become a daily fixture of Israeli life - scanning and searching people at shopping centers, supermarkets, restaurants and schools: a female Israeli security guard, 20-year-old Hadar Gitlin, whom I wrote about in a dispatch on this list last May. Hadar prevented a suicide murderer killing more people through her quick actions at a shopping center in the Israeli city of Afula on May 19. Hadar survived, although she is now badly scarred on her hands and arms, and can barely walk on crutches because of severe leg and internal injuries. Other brave Israeli security guards who have suffered horrific injuries while saving the lives of others are also profiled in this article.

3. "Dahlan: Armed struggle - a mistake" (By Khaled Abu Toameh, The Jerusalem Post, with the Associated Press, September 29, 2003). On the three-year anniversary of the Palestinian uprising, the outgoing Palestinian security chief, Mohammed Dahlan, (who was sacked last week on Yasser Arafat's orders because he is too moderate) said militants made a mistake in using arms against Israel and failed to understand that the world had changed after Sept. 11. "Resorting to armed violence in certain phases of the Palestinian Intifada, the way it was done in the past three years, proved to be detrimental to our national struggle," Dahlan told the Lebanese English-language newspaper Daily Star in an interview. "We had hoped that the various Palestinian factions would understand the new world that emerged after the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and learn from their outcome," Dahlan said.




Letter to the Boston Globe.

Dear Editor:

On Saturday, September 27th, The Boston Globe ran an article on the murder of a 30-year-old civilian and a seven-month-old baby girl, in their home celebrating the holiday of Rosh Hashana.

The headline: "Attacker Kills 2 in Jewish Settlement."

These innocent civilians were killed in their homes by a Palestinian terrorist. When Palestinian children are killed inadvertently by Israeli forces, headlines take care to identify both the killers and the tender age of the victims. Yet in this headline the killer's identity was unidentified, and the horror of an innocent baby's murder also went unmentioned.

Regardless of one's editorial or personal position on the conflict in the Middle East, it is your responsibility as objective journalists to cover news of both sides in an evenhanded manner. By allowing your headlines to promote the identity of Israeli killers and subdue the identity of Palestinian killers, and to sensationalize the ages of Palestinian victims while reducing a baby's murder in cold blood to the anonymous killing of a "settler", you give an unbalanced view to your readers.

We expect that you take care to adhere to the principles of objective journalism and leave opinions to the editorial pages. We deserve as much.


Lisa D



Israel's bouncers tackle bombers at 2.50 an hour
By Larry Derfner
Sunday Times, U.K.
September 28, 2003

On the evening of May 19, Hadar Gitlin, 20, was working as a security guard with Kiryl Shremko, checking bags and running hand-held metal detectors over customers entering a shopping centre in the Israeli city of Afula. Gitlin does not remember the explosion. "Kiryl asked me for assistance, so I walked towards him," she said last week, "and the next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital."

Witnesses say Shremko's metal detector beeped as he passed it over a young woman trying to get into the mall. As Gitlin approached, the young woman - later identified as Hiba Daraghmeh, 19, a West Bank Palestinian - exploded.

Daraghmeh was wearing the suicide terrorist's weapon of choice - an explosives-packed belt under her coat. Besides herself she killed three people. One of them was Shremko, who was on his first shift at the mall as a security guard. The bomb injured about 60 others including Gitlin, who was in her second week in the job.

Now badly scarred on her hands and arms, she can barely walk on crutches because of severe leg and internal injuries, and spends much of her time having physiotherapy. She wants to travel to Australia and New Zealand when she is well. Asked when her doctors say this will be possible, Gitlin replied: "They tell me they can't say."

Since Palestinian terrorists with explosive belts, bombs in bags and assault rifles began attacking crowded spots in Israeli cities, private security guards have become the country's new army.

Growing in number to about 45,000, they are now a fixture of daily life - eyeballing, scanning and searching people at shopping centres, supermarkets, restaurants and schools.

Putting their bodies between terrorists and their targets, they have been affectionately dubbed "the bulletproof vest of the nation". But six have been killed and four seriously wounded in terrorist attacks during the intifada, or Palestinian uprising, whose third anniversary is tomorrow.

One humid night last week on the Tel Aviv beachfront, Dave Liebenstein, 24, a former amateur wrestler, stood guard at the entrance to Mike's Place pub, where three people died when it was targeted by two British Muslim suicide bombers last April. The bombers were blocked from getting inside by another security guard who suffered severe burns and shrapnel wounds.

Guarding an Israeli pub is not like being a bouncer in an English bar, he noted. "A bouncer in the UK or America is watching what's going on inside, looking out for troublemakers. Here you keep your eyes on what's going on outside, on who might want to come in."

At the nearby Sea Here banquet hall, Kobi Hajaj checked guests at the entrance while his partner Moshe Ben Noon scanned the distance. "To stop a suicide bomber you have to spot him before he gets in the middle of a crowd of people, which is what he's looking for," said Hajaj.

Around the corner from the Sea Here, at the now-defunct Dolphinarium nightclub, a suicide bomber made it inside a crowd of young people, killing 21 of them in June 2001.

Unlike most security guards Hajaj and Ben Noon carry guns, although they acknowledge their weapons are of limited use against a bomber - a bullet could set off an explosive belt or hit bystanders.

"Once you see him you have to walk out there after him, you make eye contact with him so he knows you're on to him," said Hajaj. "You try to isolate him. If there's no choice, you have to jump on him and try to disable him, even if it means risking your life. That's the nature of the job."

If the bomber gets to the entrance of the venue, the guard must physically block him while hoping that the bomb malfunctions, said Hajaj, 29.

In trying to spot a suicide bomber, guards look for tell-tale incongruities: a disproportionate bulge under a person's coat that could be an explosive belt; the wearing of a coat at all in hot, humid weather; facial sweating and extreme nervousness; adamant refusal to submit to inspection. "I look at the eyes first," said Liebenstein. "A person about to blow himself up is going to show it in his eyes."

One security guard who did stop a suicide bomber from striking in front of him is Michael Sarkisov. He found himself confronted two years ago at Cafe Tayelet, a few doors from Mike's Place.

"The guy came up and I ran the metal detector over him and it beeped. I started asking him questions, and then I saw he had his hand in his pocket and there were wires coming out of his pocket, and I knew it was a bomb," he recalled.

A former army officer from Turkmenistan, Sarkisov grabbed the terrorist's hand, pulling it away from the bomb. The bomber broke free and started running up the beachfront with Sarkisov behind him shouting: "Terrorist, terrorist!"

Guards from the nearby American embassy chased the terrorist and tackled him, and they and Sarkisov held him down until police sappers arrived to dismantle the 22lb bomb strapped to his waist.

When Sarkisov, 30, returned to the cafe the patrons whose lives he had saved stood and cheered. The security guard with broken Hebrew, working on a minimum wage, became a hero and his life took a turn for the better.

"(The prime minister, Ariel) Sharon invited me to his office and asked if I had any problems he could help me with. I told him I'm a new immigrant to Israel, I have problems with money, with renting an apartment. I was spending more than half my salary on rent," he said.

"Sharon and (housing minister Natan) Sharansky arranged for me to get a public housing flat nearly rent free. Sharansky showed up with the TV cameras to give me the key."

However, it is only in the past year that security guards have been given official recognition for the sacrifices and risks they endure. In a recent television programme Gitlin was named "Person of the Year" for her contribution to society.

Despite these gestures, private security guards are among Israel's most ruthlessly exploited employees. Most are immigrants from the former Soviet Union who lack the proficiency in Hebrew to work in their previous professions. They work 60 hours a week or more for the minimum wage of just under 2.50 per hour.

"I'm not saying that 100% of the guards get cheated, but my impression is that about 60% of them do," said Hanna Zohar, director of the Tel Aviv-based Workers Hotline.

Standing at the entrance of a restaurant on the beachfront, Gennady Gulaev said he worked 10 hours a day, six days a week, and got "no overtime pay, no weekend pay, no holiday pay". Gulaev, 35, a truck driver from Ukraine, said: "People accept it, I guess, because there are no jobs out there."

In the harsh Israeli recession, which was spurred by the intifada, one of the few industries that has seen substantial job growth is security.

A minimum-wage security guard's job was the only work Julio Magram could get after he arrived in Israel in early 2001. An export company manager in Buenos Aires, he left Argentina because of its collapsing economy, but at the age of 51 found he was virtually unemployable in recession-bound Israel.

As a security guard, he "Didn't feel like the same person he'd been before", said his former live-in girlfriend, Eliana Diochtar.

Guarding a shopping mall in the city of Kfar Saba, he worked 12-16 hours a day. He did not complain, said Diochtar, except to say that he "hurt physically. He wasn't allowed to sit down". The only guard training he received was in "how to check people's bags", she added.

In November last year Magram was killed in the mall when he tried to block a suicide bomber from entering a crowded appliance store.

"If a terrorist ever comes up to me," said Gulaev, "I'm finished." But he added with a rueful smile: "I'm in this country alone, I have no family, nobody. If I end up sacrificing my life to save someone else's, that would be fine with me."


A former MI6 agent who was ordered to leave his post in the West Bank by his bosses received death threats from Palestinian officials, a senior Palestinian security source revealed last week, writes Uzi Mahnaimi.

The source said Alistair Crooke, 54, who worked as a special envoy for the European Union in the occupied territories, fell foul of rivalry between the West Bank and Gaza branches of the Palestinian security service.

Crooke was recalled temporarily to London in July as a result of the threats but when they continued he was ordered to end his assignment.

Crooke, a low-profile figure who travelled in Palestinian taxis, was at the forefront of attempts to draw Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other groups into the political process.

"Alistair was the best mediator in the field, much better than the American CIA guys, a classical style of a British MI6 agent at his best," said one Israeli intelligence source. "We appreciated his skill and efforts to defuse the tension between the two sides."

Details of Crooke's departure emerged as Israelis celebrated the Jewish new year holiday this weekend amid heightened security. Palestinians were banned from entering Israel during the Rosh Hashanah festival, which ends tonight.

The start of the festival was marred by the deaths of an Israeli and a baby girl at the Israeli settlement of Negahot in the West Bank. They were killed by a Palestinian gunman.



Dahlan: Armed struggle - a mistake
By Khaled Abu Toameh
The Jerusalem Post
September 29, 2003

On the three-year anniversary of the Palestinian uprising, the outgoing Palestinian security chief said militants made a mistake in using arms against Israel and failed to understand that the world had changed after Sept. 11.

Violence has been "detrimental to our national struggle," the security chief, Mohammed Dahlan, said, accusing the militant groups of misreading the situation.

"Resorting to armed violence in certain phases of the Palestinian intifada, the way it was done in the past three years, proved to be detrimental to our national struggle," Dahlan told the Lebanese English-language newspaper Daily Star in an e-mail interview.

"We had hoped that the various Palestinian factions would understand the new world that emerged after the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and learn from their outcome," Dahlan said.

"Each era of national struggle has its own characteristics and means. What is positive at a certain time might be counterproductive in other times," Dahlan added.

Dahlan was security chief under Abbas, who stepped down after Arafat failed to relinquish control over security forces. Dahlan, who had the support of the United States, will not be in the new government of Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qureia.

Upon learning that he has been excluded from the impending government, thousands of demonstrators marched in the city of Khan Yunis and other places in the southern Gaza Strip over the past three days in support of Dahlan.

The protesters, many of them members of the Preventive Security Service and Fatah's armed wing, Aksa Martyrs Brigades, chanted slogans condemning Qurei's cabinet and three veteran Fatah leaders known as opponents of Dahlan - Abbas Zaki, Hani al-Hassan and Sakher Habash.

In an unprecedented move, the demonstrators also set fire to effigies representing the three and called for punishing them under the pretext that they are "opportunists" and "collaborators".

Fatah leaders and activists in the West Bank called on Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat to order an investigation to find out who organized the series of pro-Dahlan demonstrations.

These rallies have enraged many of Fatah's top leaders and activists, who have accused the ousted Security Minister of trying to stage a coup d'etat in the organization that was founded by Arafat nearly four decades ago. Some Fatah activists who participated in the protests have sought to distance themselves from the event, saying they were misled into believing that the demonstrations were organized to protest against Israel's decision in principle to "remove" Arafat.

"There is no doubt that these demonstrations were organized by Dahlan himself," a senior Fatah official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post. "This is a blunt challenge to the entire Fatah leadership and to President Arafat and he must be held accountable for his actions."

Another veteran Fatah operative called for Dahlan's dismissal from Fatah, arguing that the former Security Minister was seeking to create schism in the organization. "What Dahlan is doing is very harmful not only to Fatah, but to the entire Palestinian cause," he charged. "He has definitely crossed all the red lines."

A number of leaflets distributed in the West Bank in the past 48 hours by Fatah activists vehemently criticized the protests in the Gaza Strip and described those behind them as "agents" and "traitors" who failed in their scheme to replace Arafat.

One of the leaflets, signed by a large group of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, read: "At a time when our people are rallying around our historic leadership and besieged president, we are surprised to see that a group of mercenaries, who have deviated from the frame of our values and morals, is working towards engaging us in a civil war. This is what [Defense Minister Shaul] Mofaz and his agents are planning these days by inciting against the leadership of the Fatah Central Council, which thwarted the Israeli plot to replace Abu Ammar (Arafat) with collaborators."

Another leaflet disseminated in the Hebron district by the Fatah youth movement, Shabeebah, urged Arafat to take action against the "mercenaries" who staged the demonstrations in the Gaza Strip.

The leaflets did not mention Dahlan by name, but several Fatah leaders said they referred to him and a number of his aides as being responsible for what happened in the Gaza Strip. They pointed out that when Dahlan lately realized that he was about to be dumped, he invited journalists to attend a training course at one of his security installations in Gaza City, where his supporters glorified him and chanted slogans praising him as one of the leaders of the Palestinian people.

The Fatah Central Council, a body dominated by longtime Arafat allies, was instrumental in toppling the cabinet of outgoing Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, whom its members accused of seeking to undermine Arafat with the help of Dahlan.

Dahlan has earned the opprobrium of veteran Fatah leaders by calling for holding elections for the organization s central council. He argues that the council has lost its legitimacy and credibility as a major decision-making body because the last time it held elections was more about 14 years ago. Dahlan is supported by several operatives who belong to the "young guard" in Fatah.

One of them told the Post that the current struggle in Fatah was between the "old guard," represented by veteran Fatah officials who returned with Arafat from Tunis, and the "young guard," who make up the majority of activists who grew up in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and played a major role in the first and second intifadas against Israel. "The old guard are against any change, even if it's to the better," he said. "These people just want to hold on to their positions, and that's all what they care about."

Prominent Palestinian analyst and political activist Fuad Abu Hijleh said demonstrations in the Gaza Strip were an "unfortunate" and "gloomy" event. The torched effigies were not those of [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon and his butchers, but of nationalist leaders," he noted. "What we saw was frightening and we condemn the attempt to harm Fatah at this difficult period in the history of our struggle with the enemy."

(with Associated Press)

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.