Albeit reduced, the terror continues

July 23, 2003

CONTENTS

1. "PA report: 26 terror acts against Israelis since hudna" (Ha'aretz, July 22, 2003).
2. "Arafat is said to fund truce foes" (Boston Globe, July 23, 2003)
3. "Israeli cyclist stabbed near Arab refugee camp in capital" (The Jerusalem Post, July 24, 2003).
4. "Two would-be suicide bombers held; IDF soldier still missing" (Ha'aretz, July 23, 2003)
5. "Hezbollah shells northern Israel, two injured" (The Times of India / AP, July 22, 2003).
6. "Abbas won't crack down on militants" (The Age (Australia), July 23, 2003)
7. "Palestinian attacks on Israelis are 'crimes against humanity': rights group" (Agence France-Presse, July 21, 2003)
8. "Hamas building 1,000 Kassam rockets" (The Jerusalem Post, July 21, 2003)
9. "Report: New PA textbooks full of anti-Israel propaganda" (The Jerusalem Post, July 22, 2003)


[Note by Tom Gross]

Although there has been a reduction in terror attacks against Israelis since the "truce" was called, they are continuing at a rate that no other country would find acceptable.

Because the European and American media are virtually ignoring them, I am sending out articles from the Israeli, Indian, and Australian media concerning terror attacks in recent days. The latest attack was tonight on an Israeli cyclist who was stabbed as he rode home in Jerusalem; he was rushed to Hadassah University Hospital with the knife still lodged in his back. On Sunday night, a 64 year old Jerusalem man was stabbed in the city's upscale Yemin Moshe neighborhood. Last week a 24-year-old Israeli was stabbed to death in Tel Aviv in an attack claimed by the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a "military" wing of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement. At least two suicide bombers were caught today en route to perpetrate attacks. An Israeli soldier, Oleg Shaichat, remains missing, thought to have been kidnapped in the manner that an Israeli taxi driver was kidnapped last week. Hezbollah has shelled northern Israel, injuring two civilians, one seriously.

I attach 9 stories with summaries first:

1. "PA report: 26 terror acts against Israelis since hudna" (Ha'aretz, July 22, 2003). "There were 26 separate terror incidents since the Palestinian factions announced their unilateral cease-fire, a Palestinian security forces report says. The report cites mortar fire, anti-tank rocket fire, shots fired at IDF patrols and the suicide attack at Kfar Yavetz and the stabbing in Jaffa." (This article was written before the latest stabbings.) "Seven Palestinians have been killed since the hudna took effect, nearly all while attempting to conduct attacks on Israeli targets."

2. "Arafat is said to fund truce foes" (By Charles A. Radin and Sa'Id Ghazali, Boston Globe, July 23, 2003.) This is a remarkable article from the front page of today's Boston Globe. At last, a senior correspondent at a major newspaper has acknowledged that it is Yasser Arafat who is orchestrating much of the terror against Israel. Radin and Ghazali write: "JENIN, West Bank - Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and his followers are supplying financial and political support to armed groups that reject the current cease-fire ... The groups include units of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades organization, a military affiliate of Arafat's Fatah movement that is listed as a terrorist group by the US State Department. In recent days, the Brigades led attacks on pro-Abbas leaders in major West Bank cities and hounded from office the governor of Jenin. ... 'They won - they have forced me to resign,'' a bruised and battered Governor Haider Irsheid said in his home as he recovered from his abduction and public beating last Saturday at the hands of armed militants in Jenin. ''I am exhausted,'' the 49-year-old Jenin native and former diplomat said. ''They beat me all over my body.'' Irsheid said Arafat knows of and supports the continuing payments to the militant groups despite their rejection of the cease-fire... Abdel Fattah al Hamayel, who is a Fatah leader and a Palestinian Authority minister without portfolio, confirmed that Fatah is providing money to the Brigades, Irsheid said ... Fatah had given $10,000 to Brigades members from the Jenin camp on July 12."

"Fatah-affiliated militias also are sending waves of shock and fear through Nablus, where, during an attempt to abduct an alleged collaborator last week, they shot dead a 36-year-old woman carrying her 3-month-old baby along a street. Two cars belonging to Nablus Governor Mahmoud al Aloul and one belonging to another Palestinian official who criticized the activities of armed gangs in the city were torched."

3. "Israeli cyclist stabbed near Arab refugee camp in capital" (July 24, 2003, The Jerusalem Post). "A 40 year old Israeli resident of Jerusalem riding home on bicycle Wednesday night was stabbed and moderately wounded by four Arab assailants near the city's northern Shuafat refugee camp, police said. It was the second major stabbing in the capital in the last three days. As a manhunt for the attackers got underway, the victim was rushed by Magen David Adom paramedics to Hadassah University Hospital at Ein Kerem with the knife still lodged in his back... On Sunday night, a 64 year old Jerusalem man was stabbed and moderately wounded in the city's upscale Yemin Moshe neighborhood when out for a walk with a friend... The latest attacks come about a week after a 24-year-old Israeli was stabbed to death by a Palestinian assailant in Jaffa, a late-night attack that was claimed by the El Aksa Martyrs Brigades, an offshoot of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's mainstream Fatah movement."

4. "Two would-be suicide bombers held; IDF soldier still missing" (Ha'aretz, July 23, 2003). "Military sources said the men, Azam Yusuf and Ibrahim Darsheikh, were members of Islamic Jihad and were planning to carry out a suicide bombing in Israel."

5. "Hezbollah shells northern Israel, two injured" (July 22, 2003, The Times of India / AP). "Hezbollah guerillas in southern Lebanon fired salvoes of anti-aircraft shells into northern Israel, injuring two people, one seriously in the Israeli town of Shlomi."

6. "Abbas won't crack down on militants" (23 July 2003, The Age (Australia). "Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas said he will not crack down on Palestinian militant groups, despite being urged by the US and Israel to do so... Disarming militant groups responsible for attacks on Israelis is a condition of the US-backed road map to Middle East peace, which envisions an end to violence and creating an independent Palestinian state by 2005."

7. "Palestinian attacks on Israelis are 'crimes against humanity': rights group" (Agence France-Presse, July 21, 2003.) Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians amount to "crimes against humanity" which Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority (PA) has not done enough to stop, a French-based rights group, Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World), charged Monday. Statistics produced in the report showed that the proportion of civilian victims was "at least equal to 70 percent" and that most were elderly, young or children. "Unfortunately, this report speaks for the Zionist extreme-right," charged Mohammed al-Hindi, an official of the hardline Islamic Jihad. (TG adds: Please note that AFP's own tally of Israeli and Palestinian dead in this story is extremely misleading, substantially reducing the number of Israeli victims and substantially increasing Palestinian victims by including Palestinians not killed by Israel.)

8. "Hamas building 1,000 Kassam rockets" (The Jerusalem Post, July 21, 2003). "Hamas is utilizing the cease-fire to build more than 1,000 Kassam rockets... This has sparked a fear among IDF officers that should hostilities resume, "the opening of the next phase in the conflict will be much more violent," according to a Gaza brigade commander. Much of the raw material necessary to build the rockets is smuggled in myriad tunnels from Egypt. The Egyptians also are not doing enough to stop the smuggling, he said. "It is not as though they are unaware of the vast amounts of weapons and ammunition being smuggled through."

9. "Report: New PA textbooks full of anti-Israel propaganda" (The Jerusalem Post, July 22, 2003). "'O brother, the oppressors have exceeded all bounds and jihad and sacrifice are necessary,' reads a recently introduced Palestinian Authority eighth grade textbook... The name "Israel" does not appear on a single map; the entire land is called 'Palestine.' ... Jihad and martyrdom are exalted, as they are in previous textbooks."

 


FULL ARTICLES

PA REPORT: 26 TERROR ACTS AGAINST ISRAELIS SINCE HUDNA

PA report: 26 terror acts against Israelis since hudna
Ha'aretz
By Arnon Regular
July 22, 2003

There were 26 separate terror incidents since the Palestinian factions announced their unilateral cease-fire, a Palestinian security forces report says. The report cites mortar fire, anti-tank rocket fire, shots fired at IDF patrols and the suicide attack at Kfar Yavetz and the stabbing in Jaffa.

According to the report, during the three weeks of hudna, there have been an average of 1.3 incidents of violence per day compared to an average of 13 a day during June and an average 18 a day during the entire intifada. The report says there were 3.5 suicide bombings a month during the entire intifada, and in June there were four.

During June, there were 31 Israelis killed and 179 wounded, while the overall monthly average for the entire intifada was 24 Israelis killed a month and some 150 wounded. So far, during the cease-fire, which began in early July, there have been three Israelis (including a foreign worker) killed and five wounded.

The 26 incidents include seven cases of rocket and mortar fire in Gaza, including some conducted by Hamas cells. Six were conducted against Israeli military targets in Gaza and the West Bank, where five were by Fatah. The rest of the incidents included shooting at settlements and attacks on civilians. The Palestinians also counted seven cases of land mines against IDF patrols, with four discovered before they went off. Almost all were planted by Fatah-affiliated cells.

According to the Palestinian data, 2,678 Palestinians were killed during the intifada, with 62 killed during June. Seven Palestinians have been killed since the hudna took effect, nearly all while attempting to conduct attacks on Israeli targets.

A Palestinian security source said yesterday that, while the data shows a dramatic drop in the number of violent incidents, as well as an equally dramatic decline in the number of terror alerts reaching Israel, the Palestinians documenting the situation on the ground from the Palestinian perspective see no change in the situation. Checkpoints remain in place, as does the internal closure preventing freedom of movement between Palestinian towns, villages and cities.

 

ARAFAT IS SAID TO FUND TRUCE FOES

Arafat is said to fund truce foes
By Charles A. Radin, Globe Staff, and Sa'Id Ghazali, Globe Correspondent, Boston Globe
July 23, 2003

JENIN, West Bank - Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and his followers are supplying financial and political support to armed groups that reject the current cease-fire and the leadership of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, according to the Palestinian Authority and local officials.

The groups include units of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades organization, a military affiliate of Arafat's Fatah movement that is listed as a terrorist group by the US State Department. In recent days, the Brigades led attacks on pro-Abbas leaders in major West Bank cities and hounded from office the governor of Jenin. Control of this chaotic and lawless city, from which numerous terror attacks have been launched against Israel, is essential if the Palestinian Authority is to meet its commitments under the US-backed ''road map'' toward Mideast peace.

''They won - they have forced me to resign,'' a bruised and battered Governor Haider Irsheid said in his home as he recovered from his abduction and public beating last Saturday at the hands of armed militants in Jenin. He said he would continue functioning as governor until he leaves on a two-month vacation today, then will insist that Arafat accept his resignation. ''I am exhausted,'' the 49-year-old Jenin native and former diplomat said. ''They beat me all over my body.''

Irsheid said Arafat knows of and supports the continuing payments to the militant groups despite their rejection of the cease-fire. The governor said Fatah is making the payments in numerous places in the West Bank, even as internal Palestinian reforms and US pressure have begun to choke off previous sources of funding for the paramilitary groups.

Abdel Fattah al Hamayel, who is a Fatah leader and a Palestinian Authority minister without portfolio, confirmed that Fatah is providing money to the Brigades.

Defiance of the Abbas government by paramilitary groups that are loyal to Arafat and are affiliated with his Fatah movement is the latest in a growing number of signs that the road map initiative is in danger of breaking down. The road map, embraced by President Bush, Abbas, and Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, at their summit conference last month in Jordan, sets out steps that the Palestinians and Israelis must take to move toward a permanent peace.

Israel began, but has not continued, to fulfill its commitment to dismantle settlement outposts erected after March 2001, and the Palestinian Authority has made no effort to confront and dismantle terrorist groups, although both issues were supposed to be dealt with early in the process.

Israel has withdrawn from Palestinian-populated territory in the Gaza Strip and Bethlehem, and Palestinian incitement against Jews and Israelis has declined, as have attacks by both sides. But as Abbas and Sharon head toward Washington for consultations with Bush over the next week, talks between the sides have bogged down over Palestinian demands that Israel release prisoners and stop building its new security fence - neither of which is a major topic of the road map.

Failure of the Abbas government to control principal Palestinian cities could soon make all the talks, and the road map itself, irrelevant. With the support of Arafat, Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades members are in control of the streets on Jenin, the fourth-largest Palestinian city, and the Brigades and other Fatah splinter groups have initiated a wave of car-torchings, extortions, and abductions, in Nablus, the third-largest city.

Irsheid, the Jenin governor, was abducted from his home last Saturday afternoon, publicly beaten, marched barefoot through the Jenin refugee camp, and thrown into a cave, where he was beaten again. On orders from Arafat, he was released four hours later. He had cuts and bruises on his face, arms, and legs, and his feet were badly cut from the sharp stones of the camp roads.

Irsheid said he spoke with the Palestinian leader two days before the abduction and told him ''it was 100 percent wrong'' that Fatah had given $10,000 to Brigades members from the Jenin camp on July 12. Irsheid said Arafat ''told me that `they are our children. We have to control them.' I advised him not to do this, that it was dangerous... The only way to control them is through the rule of law.''

Hamayel, who made the payment from Fatah funds, said the Brigades members ''are employees and they are Fatah. They are also human beings. They need to pay rent for their homes and telephones.'' He said the groups ''are committed to the cease-fire. They told us in writing that their commitment to the cease-fire is absolute.''

When told that Zakariah al Zubaidi, the head of the Brigades in the Jenin camp, told Globe reporters that they did not accept the cease-fire and mounted attacks as recently as Sunday, Hamayel said, ''That's not true.''

Irsheid said he recognized the leaders of the Brigades in the camp and in Jenin city among the people who abducted and beat him. ''I was kidnapped; I don't know why,'' he said. ''I don't think it was encouraged by [Arafat].'' But Irsheid said the attackers told him one reason for the assault was that he tried to discourage Arafat from giving them financial support.

Irsheid said he has had tense relations with militant groups in Jenin for the past two years ''because I stopped them from attacking people and doing injustices,'' which he said included extorting money from the public. Both he and Zubaidi said the Brigades and the Palestinian Authority administrator were at odds over the cease-fire that most militants -- but not the Brigades in Jenin and Nablus -- are observing.

Irsheid said the Authority's declaration of an end to armed attacks on Israelis set a policy that had to be obeyed. But Zubaidi said the governor's contacts with the Israelis over enforcing the cease-fire and negotiating Israeli withdrawal from Jenin made him a collaborator with the enemy.

Ata Abu Irmaileh, the head of Fatah in the Jenin camp, said he believes ''Arafat is against the cease-fire with the Israeli aggressors, [but] Arafat is under siege and he is under pressures. His position is always with the martyrs.''

Fatah-affiliated militias also are sending waves of shock and fear through Nablus, where, during an attempt to abduct an alleged collaborator last week, they shot dead a 36-year-old woman carrying her 3-month-old baby along a street. Two cars belonging to Nablus Governor Mahmoud al Aloul and one belonging to another Palestinian official who criticized the activities of armed gangs in the city were torched.

''These people are like bats in the night, spreading chaos and destruction in our society,'' said Talal Dweikat, chief of Palestinian intelligence in the city. ''Many criminals are using the slogans of homeland as a cover for their criminal attacks.''

Dr. Randa Abu Rabe'e, a prominent Nablus physician, said residents are outraged at the use of weapons on the streets. ''It has become easy to say that somebody is a collaborator and then use it as a justification for kidnapping and shooting. Nobody knows who these people are.''

 

ISRAELI CYCLIST STABBED NEAR ARAB REFUGEE CAMP IN CAPITAL

Israeli cyclist stabbed near Arab refugee camp in capital
By Etgar Lefkovits
The Jerusalem Post
July 24, 2003

A 40 year old Israeli resident of Jerusalem riding home on bicycle Wednesday night was stabbed and moderately wounded by four Arab assailants near the city's northern Shuafat refugee camp, police said.

It was the second major stabbing in the capital in the last three days.

The Israeli victim, David Shilo, told police that he was making his way home to the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev on his bicycle shortly after 9 p.m. when four Arab teens assaulted him near the entrance to the city's Shuafat refugee camp, which lies adjacent to the French Hill intersection.

The four 15 year old suspects approached Shilo, asked him if he wanted to sell his bike, then threw him off the bike, and stabbed him in the back with a kitchen knife before fleeing.

As a manhunt for the attackers got underway, the victim was rushed by Magen David Adom paramedics to Hadassah University Hospital at Ein Kerem with the knife still lodged in his back.

During subsequent police searches, several Arab teens matching the assailants' general description were arrested, and were being questioned by police at press time. It was not immediately clear whether they were involved in the attack, were eyewitnesses, or were simply innocent passers-by.

Earlier Wednesday, in a major security sweep in the area, Jerusalem border police had rounded up over 200 Palestinians who were residing illegally in the sprawling refugee camp, which lies along the city's porous northern border with the West Bank.

It was not immediately clear if there was any connection between the two events.

On Sunday night, a 64 year old Jerusalem man was stabbed and moderately wounded in the city's upscale Yemin Moshe neighborhood when out for a walk with a friend.

Coincidentally, the victim in that similar night-time attack, which police said was probably terror-related, was from Pisgat Ze'ev as well. The assailant in that stabbing has not been apprehended to date.

The latest attacks come about a week after a 24-year-old Israeli was stabbed to death by a Palestinian assailant in Jaffa, a late-night attack that was claimed by the El Aksa Martyrs Brigades, an offshoot of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's mainstream Fatah movement.

In recent weeks, Israeli security officials have voiced concern over the renewal and increase of such 'low-level attacks,' after last month's declaration of a three-month cease-fire by the major Palestinian terror organizations.

Before the two attacks this week, the last stabbing in Jerusalem occurred last month when two Israeli friendswere found brutally stabbed to death in a forest southwest of Jerusalem, in what police suspect was also a Palestinian terrorist attack.

The assailants in that attack have not been apprehended to date.

Before that, in February 2002, a 25-year-old university student was stabbed to death in Jerusalem's 'Peace Forest' by a gang of Jerusalem Arab teens.

 

TWO WOULD-BE SUICIDE BOMBERS HELD; IDF SOLDIER STILL MISSING

Two would-be suicide bombers held; IDF soldier still missing
By Ha'aretz Service
July 23, 2003

The IDF said Wednesday that police arrested two Palestinians overnight in the village of Rai, southwest of Jenin.

Military sources said the men, Azam Yusuf and Ibrahim Darsheikh, were members of Islamic Jihad and were planning to carry out a suicide bombing in Israel.

Jerusalem police arrested some 200 Palestinians from Hebron and Nablus for being in the

refugee camp of Shuafat, in the northern part of the capital, without valid permits.

Also, police are requesting the public's help in finding missing IDF soldier Oleg Shaichat, who was last seen Monday at the Ami-Ad junction in the Galilee.

Shaichat is described as 1.78 meters in height and having a large build, with short blonde hair and blue eyes. He has eyeglasses and was wearing an army uniform. He also has a scar behind his left ear. Anyone with any information of his whereabouts is asked to contact the police.

Superintendent Rafi Ben-David, police commander in Upper Nazareth, told Army Radio that all possibilities were under investigation.

"All directions of the investigation are open, but the unexplained disappearance of a soldier increases the level of suspicion," Ben-David said. "No problem was found in the family that could have indicated any signs of distress (with the soldier)," he added.

Security officials have repeatedly said they have intelligence warnings of Palestinian militants' intentions to kidnap Israeli soldiers.

 

HEZBOLLAH SHELLS NORTHERN ISRAEL

Hezbollah shells northern Israel
London Times
May 22, 2003

Hezbollah guerillas in southern Lebanon have fired salvoes of anti-aircraft shells into northern Israel, injuring two people. The Israeli army said one person was seriously injured and another lightly hurt when shells hit the town of Shlomi. The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah routinely responds to Israeli air force flights over Lebanon with anti-aircraft fire.

 

HEZBOLLAH SHELLS NORTHERN ISRAEL, TWO INJURED

Hezbollah shells northern Israel, two injured
Times of India / AP
July 22, 2003

JERUSALEM: Hezbollah guerillas in southern Lebanon fired salvoes of anti-aircraft shells into northern Israel, injuring two people, the Israeli army said Tuesday.

The army said one person was seriously injured and another lightly hurt when shells hit the Israeli town of Shlomi. Military sources also said a fire had broken out in the town, but did not specify its extent.

The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah routinely responds to Israeli air force flights over Lebanon with anti-aircraft fire.

A Hezbollah statement issued in Beirut said the group's air defense unit fired three times in the space of an hour Tuesday morning at Israeli ``enemy planes that violated Lebanese sovereignty.''

The Israeli military had no immediate comment on the claim its planes were in the area.

Hezbollah and Israel fought a bloody guerrilla war for 18 years in southern Lebanon before Israel's withdrawal in 2000. Since then, Hezbollah has frequently fired across the border, especially in the area of Sheba Farms, an Israeli border outpost that Lebanon continues to claim.

 

ABBAS WON'T CRACK DOWN ON MILITANTS

Abbas won't crack down on militants
The Age (Australia)
July 23, 2003

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas said he will not crack down on Palestinian militant groups, despite being urged by the US and Israel to do so.

After meeting in Cairo with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, Abbas was asked by reporters if he will dismantle armed groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, steps Israel is demanding before withdrawing its forces from more Palestinian towns.

"Cracking down on Hamas, Jihad and the Palestinian organisations is not an option at all," Abbas said before leaving Egypt to travel to Jordan for talks with King Abdullah II.

"We are applying the law which we accepted under the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, and that is what we will do."

The Palestinian Authority says a crackdown could trigger civil war, while militants warn such a move could nullify a shaky three-month truce in attacks on Israelis.

Disarming militant groups responsible for attacks on Israelis is a condition of the US-backed road map to Middle East peace, which envisions an end to violence and creating an independent Palestinian state by 2005.

Under the road map, Israel withdrew from parts of Gaza and the West Bank town of Bethlehem, but refuses to hand over more land unless the Palestinians disarm militant groups. Abbas has preferred to negotiate with militant groups - not forcibly crackdown on them - in a bid to end attacks.

In an apparent move to satisfy Israel, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on Sunday issued a decree outlawing "incitement that encourages the use of violence that harms relations with foreign countries."

Abbas and Palestinian security chief Mohamed Dahlan held talks in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher and Egypt's intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, on the road map and Abbas' upcoming visit to Washington.

Abbas is expected to meet US President George W Bush on Friday. Israeli PrimeMinister Ariel Sharon is scheduled to meet the American leader next Tuesday.

A Palestinian official said Mubarak pledged to work to force Israel to lift its confinement of Arafat to his Ramallah compound, where he has been holed up for more than a year. Israel has rejected a Palestinian appeal to allow Arafat freedom of movement, saying he can leave his compound, but he might not be allowed to return.

Initially, Abbas had said he would not travel to Washington before an end to Arafat's confinement.

But he said he and Arafat had agreed that Abbas should travel to America to "serve the (Palestinian) cause and our internal situation. Our goal and concern is that he (Arafat) would be free and travel wherever he wants."

Abbas said he would press Bush and other US officials to make Israel comply with its road map requirements, including dismantling Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories and ending restrictions on movement.

The Palestinians have also been pressing Israel to release more of the estimated 7,700 Palestinians in Israeli jails. Israel has agreed to free several hundred, but has so far resisted Palestinian demands for a mass release.

 

PALESTINIAN ATTACKS ON ISRAELIS ARE "CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY": RIGHTS GROUP

Palestinian attacks on Israelis are "crimes against humanity": rights group
Agence France-Presse
July 21, 2003

PARIS, July 21 (AFP) - Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians amount to "crimes against humanity" which Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority (PA) has not done enough to stop, a French-based rights group charged Monday.

"Armed Palestinian groups clearly premeditate and organize serious violations of international humanitarian law," Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) said in a report.

The study found that the violence against Israelis - in particular suicide bombings -- "by their 'systematic or generalised' character, in a stated intention to kill civilians and to sow terror in the Israeli population, constitute crimes against humanity in the terms of the statute of the International Criminal Court."

The research covered almost two years of the Palestinian uprising from September 29, 2000 to August 12, 2002.

Statistics produced in the report showed that the proportion of civilian victims was "at least equal to 70 percent" and that most were elderly, young or children.

The research was based upon interviews with survivors, victims' families, workers in non-governmental organisations, police officers, soldiers and officials from the Israeli foreign and health ministries.

"All of Israeli society is affected, either symbolically, with Holocaust survivors becoming victims in their daily life, where safety imperatives modify behaviour, or on an economic level."

But a top Arafat aide dismissed the report.

"We refuse the findings of this report. Only the (Israeli) occupation is a war crime," Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP.

"What is needed is for the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian lands to end and for a Palestinian state to be created. The occupation is the source of every problem here," he said.

"The Palestinian people have endured the occupation for decades and have the right to achieve freedom, independence and justice," he added.

A senior leader of the radical Islamic group Hamas, which has carried out the bulk of suicide bombings over the past 34 months, said the report was biased.

"We condemn this report and believe it is clearly siding with the Israeli occcupation and violence, especially as it does not differentiate between the butcher and the victim," said Abdelaziz al-Rantissi.

"Unfortunately, this report speaks for the Zionist extreme-right," charged Mohammed al-Hindi, an official of the hardline Islamic Jihad.

"We used to always try avoiding civilians but the Israeli enemy did not respect that and targeted civilians," he said, adding Israel was responsible "for bloodshed on both sides."

According to an AFP tally, a total of 3,382 people have been killed since the start of the intifada conflict, including 2,549 Palestinians and 772 Israelis.

Israeli human rights watchdog B'Tselem said 515 of the Israeli victims were civilians, and included Jewish settlers living on Palestinian land.

The Medecins du Monde report was a follow-up to a study conducted last year with the International Federation for Human Rights which accused the Israeli army of "war crimes" in the way it repressed the Palestinian civilian population.

In its latest report, the group accused the PA of "letting a climate of impunity develop" around Palestinian attacks on Israelis, and of maintaining "an ambiguity as to the moral support for people who organise and commit these crimes."

Nevertheless, it noted that senior Palestinian officials and respected intellectuals have admonished the actions against civilians, and it called on the international community to support them.

"Currently, there is a very good window of opportunity - there is a truce (declared by armed Palestinian groups) and ... the Palestinian prime minister, Mahmud Abbas, has denounced terrorism and violence," the group's honorary president Jacky Mamou told AFP.

 

HAMAS BUILDING 1,000 KASSAM ROCKETS

Hamas building 1,000 Kassam rockets
By Matthew Gutman and Margot Dudkevitch
The Jerusalem Post
July 21, 2003

Hamas is utilizing the cease-fire to build more than 1,000 Kassam rockets in an effort to change the balance of power following the three-month cessation in hostilities, a senior IDF officer told reporters in the Gaza Strip on Monday.

This has sparked a fear among IDF officers that should hostilities resume, "the opening of the next phase in the conflict will be much more violent," according to a Gaza brigade commander.

Much of the raw material necessary to build the rockets is smuggled in myriad tunnels underneath Rafah. From there, the source said, the weapons or bomb components are driven to Khan Yunis or Gaza City.

It is in those cities, said the senior officer, that Hamas is working on a new version of the Kassam that could reach "15 kilometers or up to 20 km," putting cities such as Ashkelon and Netivot within range.

Some of the more lucrative tunnels whose "engineers" earn a handsome profit from material smuggled under the Egyptian-Gaza border are believed to be 80 meters underground.

"Unfortunately," he said, "their digging of tunnels is much faster than our ability to stop it."

Dozens of kilograms of explosives, hundreds of weapons, antitank rockets, missiles, and thousands of bullets reach terrorist organizations operating in the Rafah area, which are taking advantage of the situation to replenish their stocks and rearm, he said.

"The Palestinian Authority is doing nothing to stop the smuggling of huge amounts of arms, weapons, and ammunition. We estimate that there are eight to 10 tunnels currently functioning," he said.

In accordance with the understandings reached with the PA, the IDF halted initiated operations in the Rafah area that focused on demolishing and destroying the tunnels.

"We destroyed or sealed more than 25 tunnels in the past year. It is unfortunate that all our achievements appear to have gone down the drain. The PA, which meant to deal with the situation, is doing nothing, and the situation is being taken advantage of by all the terrorist organizations who are receiving the weapons and arms," he said.

The IDF had almost brought to a halt the smuggling of weapons, he said. "Even the Palestinians admitted that when we operated in the area, the stream of weapons and ammunition stopped," he said.

The Egyptians also are not doing enough to stop the smuggling, he said. "It is not as though they are unaware of the vast amounts of weapons and ammunition being smuggled through."

While the IDF has taken the PA security forces to task for failing to disarm the terrorist groups, it does commend the PA for a concerted effort in reducing the level of incitement and for clamping down on terror attacks. Nonetheless, the IDF says that it has recorded 85 attacks in the Gaza Strip alone since the declaration of the cease-fire 20 days ago.

While the PA has managed to reduce the number of attacks, it has "not gotten to the root of the problem" i.e. disarming of the terrorists the senior officer said.

Especially frustrating for the army, he added, is that the IDF feeds the PA intelligence tips from time to time hoping that it will act on them. "That they dealt with [inciting] graffiti and are getting traffic cops back on the streets is nice, but the main problem for us is not traffic but weapons smuggling," he said.

Negotiation has so far served as the chief PA method for preventing attacks, he said. Sometimes "they arrest a militant under the most comfortable conditions possible and release him" within hours. The longest a militant has been held, he said, is four days.

Nevertheless, the perception within IDF ranks that the PA has all the necessary tools to disarm and arrest Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Aksa Martyrs Brigades terrorists is also giving way.

When asked whether the balance of weapons in the Gaza Strip is tilted toward the rejectionist groups or the PA, a brigade commander in Gaza hesitated for a moment, and then noted that the rejectionists probably have the upper hand.

"There have been so many arms smuggled in that we can tell by the sheer number that we capture that there must be much more that we don't," he said.

Security sources have for months been publicly saying that the PA boasts a force of 20,000 armed security personnel in Gaza alone. "They are armed, have enough jeeps, cars, enough ammunition, and enough courts to arrest those men and take them to court," said one officer.

But in private, the IDF gives figures much closer to those that PA security chiefs give about 12,000, sometimes less. Many of these men are not nearly as motivated as their rejectionist counterparts.

When further pressed, the commander, who works intimately with his PA counterparts, admitted that in an all-out battle the rejectionist groups could defeat the PA.

"The PA is aware of this," he said, "and so the challenge is to disarm the militant groups peacefully. The PA believes that it can only solve the problem by including Hamas in government."

Standing at what was once considered the most notorious checkpoint in the Gaza Strip, the commander proudly motioned toward the unceasing flow of traffic at Katif junction. "It is a great example of how to implement separation," he said.

"Gaza is a particularly good place to observe separation at work. It has a clearly demarcated and operational security fence. This allows all efforts to be made by both sides to prevent terrorists from leaving the Strip."

Nonetheless, the IDF maintains that the road continues to serve as a funnel for weapons, bombs, and even new recruits from the south of the Strip to the north.

Settlers travel on a bridge that bypasses the road, reducing to almost zero the settler-Palestinian friction, one of the IDF's main goals, according to the senior officer.

 

REPORT: NEW PA TEXTBOOKS FULL OF ANTI-ISRAEL PROPAGANDA

Report: New PA textbooks full of anti-Israel propaganda
By Shira Schoenberg
The Jerusalem Post
July 22, 2003

"O brother, the oppressors have exceeded all bounds and jihad and sacrifice are necessary," reads a line about the Israeli War of Independence, in the "reading and texts" section of one recently introduced Palestinian Authority eighth grade textbook.

Since 2000, the PA has replaced half of the Egyptian and Jordanian textbooks that were previously used in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. According to a report released Monday by the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP) on 35 third- and eighth grade PA textbooks, however, the new texts are much like the old.

"With regard to the key elements, the core of the conflict between Jews and Arabs, Palestinians and Israelis, there is no change [between these and the Egyptian and Jordanian textbooks]," said CMIP Vice-Chairman Dr. Yohanan Manor. The textbooks do not live up to criteria recommended by UNESCO, including requirements such as recognition of others' achievements, honest presentation of political disputes, and avoidance of wording likely to create prejudice.

Previous CMIP studies examined textbooks published by the PA in 2002 and 2001 for grades 1, 2, 6, 7, and 11. The texts in the current study were introduced into the curriculum in November 2002 and February 2003 and "there has been no substantial improvement," said Manor. He added that there are a few elements that may herald the beginning of change.

The study shows that there is no recognition in the textbooks of the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state. One of the two mentions of Zionism is in a reading in an eight grade text: "The fire of Zionist crime has mowed the Palestinian land." The name "Israel" does not appear on a single map; the entire land is called "Palestine."

This set of textbooks also shows an increase in blame placed on Israel. Previously, Israel was faulted for problems in human rights, the economy, and the environment, but not necessarily domestic Palestinian problems. In this study, an eighth grade civic education textbook asks, "Some of the problems of [Palestinian] family violence emanate from the practices of the [Israeli] occupation and its destructive impact on our society. How?"

In concordance with the refusal to recognize Israel, there is not a single mention in any textbook of the content of the Oslo Accords. The solution to the current conflict is generally described as the "liberation of Palestine" and the return of all refugees to their former homes.

"About one in four mentions of the liberation refers to post-'67 borders," explained Manor, "The other three fourths refer to the situation since the inception of Israel in 1948." Jihad and martyrdom are exalted, as they are in previous textbooks.

Although the textbooks do, for the first time, recognize Judaism as a "heavenly," or monotheistic, religion, there is no recognition of the Jews as a people with any historical, cultural, or religious links to Israel or its holy places. Jews in the present conflict are stereotyped as "oppressors" and "slaughterers."

There are a few positive changes, of which Manor said, "It is difficult to assess the significance."

The new textbooks have broader conceptions of tolerance and pluralism than previous books, although it is unclear whether Jews are included in these notions. A grammar lesson in an eighth grade linguistic sciences text contains a unique statement about the value of life: "It is nice for a man to die for his homeland but it is nicer for him to live for his homeland." There are also a few statements against the use of terrorism against civilians, although these are counterbalanced by adulation of terrorist groups.

Manor, who plans to meet with PA education officials in September, hopes that the study will lead to changes within Palestinian society, as well as discussion in the European Union and other powers. "People need to realize that education is an important element to ensure that the road map will succeed," he said.


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