Resend & update: Israeli leftists and centrists speak out against Gaza disengagement

June 21, 2005

The dispatch compiled yesterday morning has still not been delivered by hotmail (and one or two other service providers) more than 24 hours after it was sent. I therefore attach it again, below.*


[Additional Note by Tom Gross, June 21, 2005]

Most international newspapers today completely ignore yesterday’s attempt to blow up an Israeli hospital. And those few that do, do so in an unbalanced way:


Today Reuters reports the whole incident as “Israel says” even though the would-be suicide bomber (Wafa al-Bas, 21) told the media herself in a jailhouse interview yesterday afternoon that the target was Beersheba hospital. The interview was broadcast on Israeli television news, but not on most international networks that were not interested in using the footage. In the interview, the would-be suicide bomber said she was motivated by (the completely unproven and almost certainly false) Palestinian media reports last month that Israeli guards at Megiddo prison in northern Israel had torn a page in a Koran.


On air, most BBC world news bulletins today have begun their reports with the news that “Israel has arrested Palestinians” without mentioning that those arrested were members of Islamic Jihad linked to the murder of two Israelis in the last two days, and were in the process of planning future attacks.


Online, the BBC separates its bomber story from its report of Israel’s “crackdown” in the West Bank that followed it as if Israeli security policy is unrelated to a continued terrorist threat. And the BBC glosses over the details of Islamic Jihad murders in the previous two days.


In the Financial Times, Harvey Morris, an experienced reporter in the region, leads his story with the shooting of an Israeli by Islamic Jihad, but mentions the attempted bombing so obliquely at the end that it almost disappears (and does not mention that the target was a hospital).


Media outlets continue to describe the obligation for the Palestinian Authority to disarm terror groups as nothing more than an “Israeli demand”. For example, the American UPI (United Press International) report on yesterday’s Palestinian violence, says: “Ariel Sharon never seems to tire demanding a complete cessation of terrorism, violence and incitement, dismantling terrorist organizations and collecting their weapons.”


The result is that comment and editorial writers, not to mention policymakers and diplomats, are unaware of incidents like yesterday’s would-be suicide bomber, making it impossible for them to understand Israel’s security concerns.

Indeed the principle reason there are less “successful” suicide bombs in Israel than in Iraq at present is that the Israeli defence forces are far more skilled at preventing them. Meanwhile the western media continues to report as if a period of “total calm” was in place.

Ha’aretz reports today that Israeli security received a tip that Fatah was planning to send Wafa al-Bas on a suicide mission via one of the Gaza Strip crossings. Israel gave the PA and Chairman Mahmoud Abbas detailed information of the plan, but the PA did nothing.

-- Tom Gross



* For users of this website, please see the previous entry of June 20, 2005, titled: Israeli leftists and centrists speak out against Gaza disengagement plan.


[Additional note by Tom Gross, June 22, 2005]

As a result of the dispatch sent to journalists, the (London) Daily Telegraph the next day ran an editorial in which they clearly stated the facts about the attacks that had taken place during the previous few days. Subsequent to the dispatch, the BBC also altered their website to mention partial details of the attacks.

I attach below the Daily Telegraph editorial.


Abbas’s weakness rocks the road to peace
The Daily Telegraph
June 22, 2005

It may be doubted whether Ariel Sharon really wishes to embark on the “road map” towards a final settlement with the Palestinians. What is certain is that Mahmood Abbas’s failure to control terrorism means that the Israeli prime minister’s sincerity on this issue will not be put to the test.

Their summit in Jerusalem yesterday was, understandably, dominated by the question of security. In defiance of a ceasefire declared by the two sides in February, Islamic Jihad has recently launched attacks on targets in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Israel proper. And on Monday, a young woman sent by the Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades to bomb a hospital in the Negev was intercepted at a Gaza Strip crossing point, explosives sewn into her underwear. Security camera footage of her trying to detonate the bomb and subsequent television interviews in which she declared, “I believe in death”, have riveted Israeli viewers.

On Monday, the army responded to the latest wave of violence by arresting 52 members of Islamic Jihad. It announced it would be stepping up operations against the movement in the West Bank and would do the same, if necessary, in the Gaza Strip. The government is concerned that soldiers and civilians will come under fire when the Jewish settlements in Gaza are abandoned in August, thus leading the outside world to believe that the Israelis are leaving with their tails between their legs in the face of unendurable violence.

Yasser Arafat connived with terrorism and was ultimately rejected as a serious negotiating partner. Mr Abbas may wish to stop it - on the strength of that wish he was received in the White House last month - but is too weak to do so. Elected with a large majority in January, he has neither rooted out corruption nor, saying he prefers co-option to confrontation, curbed the gunmen and bombers. Failure to deliver has enhanced the stock of Hamas, so much so that Mr Abbas has postponed indefinitely parliamentary elections originally scheduled for next month, for fear that Fatah might lose. All in all, he is proving a very disappointing successor to Arafat.

His weakness means that Israel will not remove checkpoints in the Occupied Territories, will keep its options open on ceding full control of land, sea and air crossings into Gaza once the settlements have been razed, and will, if necessary, re-enter towns in the West Bank officially handed over to the Palestinian Authority. Least of all, while terrorism continues, will Israel set off down the road to peace mapped out by America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. The prospect is of disengagement from all the Gaza and four of the West Bank settlements, followed by an Israeli refusal, as it approaches the next general election, to make further concessions. And that in turn could provoke a third intifada.

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