“Today Gaza, tomorrow Jerusalem,” says PA prime minister

August 10, 2005

* This is part of a three part series on the upcoming Israeli disengagement from Gaza. This dispatch contains items on Palestinian preparations for the Israeli withdrawal: how they will celebrate the withdrawal and the reasons they have given for Israel’s departure. The other two dispatches deal with the Israeli debate, and with the media coverage of the withdrawal. There have now been 9 dispatches already in August. There will no or very few dispatches for the rest of the month.

-- Tom Gross

 

CONTENTS

1. “Today Gaza, tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem”
2. Palestinians say terror forced Israel from Gaza
3. Al Qaeda preparing a training base in Gaza?
4. “Flags, Posters Used in Gaza Credit Battle” (AP, August 2, 2005)
5. “Hamas plans victory parades” (Ynetnews, August 7, 2003)
6. “Palestinians organize settlement tour for Gazans” (AP, August 1, 2005)
7. “Israelis poison Palestinian lands before withdrawal: Dahlan” (Xinhua, June 29, 2005)
8. “The Gaza Test: Palestinians must ensure peaceful pullout” (Dallas News, Editorial, August 3, 2005)

 



[Note by Tom Gross]

“TODAY GAZA, TOMORROW JERUSALEM”

Palestinian political and armed factions have made extensive preparations, in order to celebrate the withdrawal by the Israeli army and settlers from Gaza and four communities in the West Bank.

(BEER) MUGS AND BUMPER STICKERS

The Palestinian Authority has prepared mugs, bumper stickers and posters with the slogan “today Gaza, tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem”. For PR purposes, they have not produced posters in English reading “and the day after that, Tel Aviv.” (Last month, the Palestinian prime minister said: “Today Gaza, tomorrow Jerusalem”.) The PA will also give away T-shirts with Palestinian flags or pictures of the late Yasser Arafat.

For the victory rallies, the PA will give away to its supporters 128,000 pairs of blue jeans. A Gaza City flag shop is sewing about 200,000 Palestinian flags.

Hamas has responded by launching a competition for the best disengagement poster with the winner receiving 250 US dollars. Hamas announced on their website that the design should portray the withdrawal as a victory for Palestinian armed (i.e. terror) groups – in particular Hamas. It said it hoped that the design would show Israel’s “desperation and defeat” and that suicide bombing works.

The winning poster will be handed out in the streets of Gaza in preparation for the pullout celebrations. Hamas has also purchased 30,000 uniforms ahead of the planned victory parades. Hamas also acquired open vehicles, to be used in the expected rallies.

“BOOTY GAINED BY THE VICTORIOUS COUNTRY

This week Palestinian Mufti Sheikh Ekrema Sabri told Islam Online “that the assets (of Jewish settlements) and what will be left behind by the settlers are deemed as booty gained by the victorious country”.

CAMP WHAT? EHUD WHO?

The Palestinian press or body politic still hasn’t made public to its own population that it was offered Gaza and much more, by the Israeli government of Ehud Barak some five years ago at Camp David, without the need to resort to terror and invite Israeli counter-terror measures that resulted in many difficulties on many ordinary Palestinians.

PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT ABBAS CALLS FOR CALM WITHDRAWAL

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has called for calm during the withdrawal period. “It is a requirement to ensure that the withdrawal will take place in a civilized manner so that we can show the world we deserve our freedom and independence,” he told Palestinian lawmakers. He also called on Palestinians to abstain from looting in former Jewish settlements.

He added that “when the occupation is lifted”, there should be no more weapons seen on Gaza’s streets. Abbas also announced that there will be Palestinian parliamentary elections next January although no specific date was set.

PALESTINIANS SAY TERROR FORCED ISRAEL FROM GAZA

An opinion poll last week revealed a majority of Palestinians believe unrelenting Islamic terrorism brought about the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and four communities in the West Bank.

Carried out by the Center for Opinion Polls and Survey Studies at An-Najah University, the poll also showed nearly half of all Palestinians want to see anti-Israel violence (i.e. suicide bombs and rocket attacks on Israeli civilians) continue after the withdrawal. Nearly 40 per cent of those polled said they would support launching attacks against Israeli targets not just from the West Bank but from Gaza after the withdrawal.

The Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei said this week that there will be no solution to the Palestinian issue until all Palestinian land has been unoccupied. He also expressed the sanctity of what he called Palestinian martyrs (i.e. suicide murderers).

Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said “[Hamas] rockets have forced Israel to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, and they will end the occupation in the future.”

INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS SUSPENDS ACTIVITY IN GAZA

After gunmen fired dozens of bullets at the International Committee of the Red Cross offices in Khan Younis the ICRC yesterday suspended all its field operations in the Gaza Strip.

A number of United Nations Aid people have also been abducted in the past few days. On Monday, two UN workers and their driver were abducted before being freed by security forces. Many have raised fears about the state of the security situation in Gaza following the Israeli withdrawal.

AL QAEDA PREPARING A TRAINING BASE IN GAZA?

Last week, an Al Qaeda website claimed the establishment of a Gaza branch called “Al Qaeda-Palestine, Jihad Brigades in the Border Land.” The announcement appeared on websites normally reserved for releases of major Al Qaeda strikes, such as Madrid, London and Iraq.

ISRAELIS POISON PALESTINIAN LANDS BEFORE WITHDRAWAL: DAHLAN

Mohammad Dahlan, the Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs, claimed last month that Israel has poisoned the land it will withdraw from. For the Palestinians to progress as a people, they have to stop blaming Israel with fictitious and ridiculous lies. Also included in this article (below) are some other made-up stories by Dahlan about “settler assaults” on Palestinians.

Many previous dispatches on this list have detailed the lies regularly regurgitated by Palestinian Authority ministers. See, for example, the dispatch titled, Arafat killed by high tech laser attack (March 21, 2005).

I also attach three articles on Palestinian preparations for withdrawal and an editorial from the Dallas News urging the Palestinians to ensure a peaceful pullout.

I attach five articles, with summaries first for those who don’t have time to read them in full.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

FLAGS, POSTERS USED IN GAZA CREDIT BATTLE

“Flags, Posters Used in Gaza Credit Battle” (The Associated Press, August 2, 2005)

The battle between Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas over who will get credit for the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip is being fought in print shops, flag factories and back alley sewing workshops.

The Palestinian Authority has commissioned tens of thousands of national flags as well as mugs, bumper stickers and posters with the slogan “Today Gaza, tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem” - props for planned mass celebrations meant to portray the pullout as an achievement of the Abbas government.

Hamas is striking back, preparing for military-style victory parades. Hamas supporters are sewing thousands of martial uniforms and flags in the group’s trademark Islamic green and activists are buying up privately owned jeeps and pickup trucks to lead the marches.

The winner of the competition may well be the next ruler of Gaza…

The Palestinian Authority is spending $1.7 million on withdrawal celebrations. It has ordered tens of thousands of Palestinian flags, from small pennants to two-story banners, that are being sewn in small workshops across Gaza.

A Gaza City flag shop is sewing about 200,000 Palestinian flags. “They want the whole country to be carrying Palestinian flags,” said the owner, Tareq Abu Daya.

For the victory rallies, the government will give away to its supporters 128,000 pairs of blue jeans along with white T-shirts, either with Palestinian flags or pictures of the late Yasser Arafat. Posters, caps, mugs and bumper stickers are being printed with slogans such as, “The people liberate, the people rebuild” and “Our land is returning to us, so let’s protect it” - all meant to portray the pullout as an achievement of the people, not a faction.

Palestinian officials acknowledge privately that the main objective is to challenge Hamas...

 

HAMAS PLANS VICTORY PARADES

“Hamas plans victory parades” (By Ronny Shaked, Ynetnews, August 7, 2003)

The Hamas is planning to hold a huge victory celebration after Israel completes its withdrawal from Gush Katif, including parades similar to those held by Hizbullah after the IDF pulled out of Lebanon.

Sources in Gaza said the terror group already purchased 30,000 uniforms ahead of the planned victory parades. The Hamas also acquired open vehicles, to be used in the expected rallies.

The movement is hoping to utilize the parades to convey the message that the Gaza Strip withdrawal is a direct result of the group’s military triumph over Israel...

... Meanwhile, IDF sources warned that the terror group continues to rearm itself despite the relative lull in violence. The Hamas is also continuing to develop weapons, produce Qassam rockets, and train more members, the sources said.

 

PALESTINIANS ORGANIZE SETTLEMENT TOUR FOR GAZANS

“Palestinians organize settlement tour for Gazans” (The Associated Press, August 1, 2005)

The Palestinian Authority has rented 200 vehicles to shuttle curious Gazans in and out of Jewish settlements after they are evacuated in mid-August, a Palestinian Cabinet minister said Sunday.

Israel’s planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements will give Palestinians the opportunity to tour the red-roofed communities most of them have never visited, although many of the enclaves were established at least 20 years ago...

 

ISRAELIS POISON PALESTINIAN LANDS BEFORE WITHDRAWAL: DAHLAN

“Israelis poison Palestinian lands before withdrawal: Dahlan” (Xinhua, June 29, 2005)

Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs Mohamed Dahlan accused on Wednesday the Jewish settlers for poisoning the lands in the settlements that Israel is intending to evacuate in mid August.

Dahlan told reporters in Gaza that the aim of poisoning the lands is to cause severe damages to them in order not to use them after the Israeli army withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

“We have definite information that the Israeli settlers are poisoning the lands in order to damage it and to prevent the Palestinians from using it in the future,” said Dahlan...

 

THE GAZA TEST: PALESTINIAN MUST ENSURE PEACEFUL PULLOUT

“The Gaza Test: Palestinians must ensure peaceful pullout” (Dallas News, Editorial, August 3, 2005)

... It is in everybody’s interest that the Palestinians succeed in governing Gaza.

Trouble is, the Islamist terrorist organization Hamas is stronger on the ground in Gaza than the Palestinian government under Mahmoud Abbas, and there is reason to fear that Hamas, which refuses to make peace with Israel, will attempt to turn the Gaza Strip into a terrorist statelet. Palestinian officials recognize that their security forces have to secure lawful government control of Gaza after the Israelis leave or their credibility before the world will be shattered.

The Palestinians’ first real test may come when the formal phase of Israel’s withdrawal commences Aug. 17. Hamas and other terrorist factions have threatened to attack Israelis during the pullout, to make it appear that Jewish settlers are being driven out by terrorist fire. Israel made it clear last week that it would meet any such offensive with a massive military invasion.

None of this need happen. The Palestinians are about to gain full sovereignty over the Gaza Strip and the chance to govern themselves. All they have to do is hold their fire while the Jewish settlers retreat. If they do otherwise, the road to a permanent peace is a dead end for the time being. It’s their call.

 



FULL ARTICLES

FLAGS, POSTERS USED IN GAZA CREDIT BATTLE

Flags, Posters Used in Gaza Credit Battle
The Associated Press
August 2, 2005

www.nytimes.com/aponline/international/AP-Palestinians-Flag-Fight.html

The battle between Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas over who will get credit for the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip is being fought in print shops, flag factories and back alley sewing workshops.

The Palestinian Authority has commissioned tens of thousands of national flags as well as mugs, bumper stickers and posters with the slogan “Today Gaza, tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem” -- props for planned mass celebrations meant to portray the pullout as an achievement of the Abbas government.

Hamas is striking back, preparing for military-style victory parades. Hamas supporters are sewing thousands of martial uniforms and flags in the group’s trademark Islamic green and activists are buying up privately owned jeeps and pickup trucks to lead the marches.

The winner of the competition may well be the next ruler of Gaza.

Hamas, increasingly popular because of disaffection with government corruption and chaos, could make an even stronger showing in upcoming parliament elections if seen as the liberator of Gaza. That image could be reinforced if Hamas militants fire on Israeli soldiers and settlers during next month’s pullout. Hamas has claimed all along that its shooting, bombing and rocket attacks during the past five years of fighting have forced the Israelis out.

Most Palestinians appear to agree. In a survey of 1,320 Palestinians last month, 72 percent said Israel was driven out of Gaza by militant attacks. The poll, by the independent Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

However, the Palestinian Authority could make a comeback if it quickly delivers some achievements after the pullout, winning some freedom of movement for fenced-in Gazans and creating jobs. Much depends on Israel’s willingness to coordinate the pullout, but Palestinian negotiators complain Israel is dawdling.

“We are still in the middle of the competition,” said Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi, adding that Israel is undermining Abbas by delaying decisions on crucial issues, such as establishing a passage between Gaza and the West Bank, and new rules for border crossings.

While waiting for a deal with Israel, Abbas is trying to wrest control of the streets from the militants, at least symbolically.

Banners and posters of militant groups have been banned from public places, but removing them is an overwhelming job. Shop shutters and walls of houses across Gaza are covered with political graffiti and posters of gun-toting militants. Police have cleared a few areas in Gaza City, but militant art still dominates most streets.

The Palestinian Authority is spending $1.7 million on withdrawal celebrations. It has ordered tens of thousands of Palestinian flags, from small pennants to two-story banners, that are being sewn in small workshops across Gaza.

A Gaza City flag shop is sewing about 200,000 Palestinian flags. “They want the whole country to be carrying Palestinian flags,” said the owner, Tareq Abu Daya.

For the victory rallies, the government will give away to its supporters 128,000 pairs of blue jeans along with white T-shirts, either with Palestinian flags or pictures of the late Yasser Arafat. Posters, caps, mugs and bumper stickers are being printed with slogans such as, “The people liberate, the people rebuild” and “Our land is returning to us, so let’s protect it” -- all meant to portray the pullout as an achievement of the people, not a faction.

Palestinian officials acknowledge privately that the main objective is to challenge Hamas.

Hamas, meanwhile, is planning its own military-style victory parades. Tens of thousands of the group’s green flags and headbands are being sewn in private homes and hidden workshops; the larger factories have been told they would lose government contracts if they make Hamas flags.

A senior Hamas official said the group is also sewing more than 2,000 uniforms for parades. Palestinian intelligence officials said they believe Islamic militants are preparing ten times as many outfits.

“It’s not acceptable to limit this victory to the Palestinian Authority,” said Hamas spokesman, Mushir al-Masri.

Palestinian analyst Khalil Shekaki said the preparations don’t mean Hamas plans to take over Gaza after Israel leaves. “Hamas could achieve that by elections, if the Palestinian Authority fails to find solutions for corruption and chaos,” he said.

Many Gazans appear to have made up their minds about why Israel’s soldiers and settlers are leaving after 38 years of occupation. The militants may have speeded up the withdrawal, but in the end Gaza is such a miserable place that no one wants it, said Ziad al-Murannia, 54, a Gaza City shopkeeper.

“(The Israelis) don’t need it, and they don’t need us,” he said.

 

HAMAS PLANS VICTORY PARADES

Hamas plans victory parades
Terror group purchases 30,000 uniforms ahead of planned post-pullout celebrations
By Ronny Shaked
Ynetnews
August 7, 2003

www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3110018,00.html

The Hamas is planning to hold a huge victory celebration after Israel completes its withdrawal from Gush Katif, including parades similar to those held by Hizbullah after the IDF pulled out of Lebanon.

Sources in Gaza said the terror group already purchased 30,000 uniforms ahead of the planned victory parades. The Hamas also acquired open vehicles, to be used in the expected rallies.

The movement is hoping to utilize the parades to convey the message that the Gaza Strip withdrawal is a direct result of the group’s military triumph over Israel.

The Hamas is apparently also planning to bring tens of thousands of its supporters to Gush Katif communities in order to celebrate there too, once the withdrawal is completed.

Sources in Gaza said Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas can ask the Hamas to refrain from celebrating and hold its fire before the IDF withdraws from Gaza, but would have difficulty exercising his influence on the group once the pullout is a done deal.

“From the moment IDF forces leave, there is no chance Abu Mazen (Abbas) would have control over the Hamas and its people,” one source said. “What’s more, the Hamas would attempt to take advantage of the evacuation in order to boost its influence and popularity on the Palestinian street.”

Meanwhile, IDF sources warned that the terror group continues to rearm itself despite the relative lull in violence. The Hamas is also continuing to develop weapons, produce Qassam rockets, and train more members, the sources said.

 

PALESTINIANS ORGANIZE SETTLEMENT TOUR FOR GAZANS

Palestinians organize settlement tour for Gazans
The Associated Press
August1, 2005

www.iht.com/articles/2005/08/01/africa/web.0801gaza.php

The Palestinian Authority has rented 200 vehicles to shuttle curious Gazans in and out of Jewish settlements after they are evacuated in mid-August, a Palestinian Cabinet minister said Sunday.

Israel’s planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements will give Palestinians the opportunity to tour the red-roofed communities most of them have never visited, although many of the enclaves were established at least 20 years ago.

Mohammed Dahlan, the Cabinet minister responsible for preparing the upcoming withdrawal on the Palestinian side, said the settlements would be sealed to Palestinians for three days after Israel completes its evacuation to allow any ordnance or other dangerous objects to be removed.

“The Palestinian Authority will organize visits for ... people throughout the Gaza Strip who would like to visit the settlements,” Dahlan said in an interview published on the Palestine Press News Agency Web site. “We have rented 200 vehicles to be used in a shuttle system to the settlements.”

The settler homes are supposed to be demolished by Israel once the residents are removed.

The Palestinian Authority is preparing to manage and administer 1,000 acres (400 hectares) of hothouses to be left behind, Dahlan said.

He called on Palestinians who currently work in the greenhouses — some of the few hundred Palestinians permitted to enter the heavily fortified communities — to register with the Palestinian Labor Ministry so they will be able to continue working in the agricultural areas following the withdrawal.

If the greenhouses are destroyed, Dahlan said the Palestinian Authority has a plan to immediately rehabilitate the hothouses.

 

ISRAELIS POISON PALESTINIAN LANDS BEFORE WITHDRAWAL: DAHLAN

Israelis poison Palestinian lands before withdrawal: Dahlan
Xinhua
June 29, 2005

Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs Mohamed Dahlan accused on Wednesday the Jewish settlers for poisoning the lands in the settlements that Israel is intending to evacuate in mid August.

Dahlan told reporters in Gaza that the aim of poisoning the lands is to cause severe damages to them in order not to use them after the Israeli army withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

“We have definite information that the Israeli settlers are poisoning the lands in order to damage it and to prevent the Palestinians from using it in the future,” said Dahlan.

He asserted that he had addressed several world countries who want to see the withdrawal succeeding, which included a briefing on all the settlers practices against the Palestinian residents.

Asked about the settlers assaults on Palestinians west of Kahn Younis in southern Gaza Strip, Dahlan said “such attacks on Palestinians are not new, they took the Palestinians lands after they were protected by their army.”

“Instead of using force in order to prevent these assaults on Palestinian residents, the Israeli army is protecting them and help them repressing the Palestinians by tightening the siege imposed on them,” said Dahlan.

On terminals and crossings controlled by Israel, Dahlan said that there are still many outstanding issues that both Israel and the Palestinians have not yet agreed upon, adding that he hopes the Israelis would agree on easing the people’s daily life.

“In case Israel doesn’t ease its measures on crossings and terminals, this means that Israel is not withdrawing from the Gaza Strip, it means that Israel is deepening its occupation,” said Dahlan.

 

THE GAZA TEST: PALESTINIAN MUST ENSURE PEACEFUL PULLOUT

The Gaza Test: Palestinians must ensure peaceful pullout
Dallas News
Editorial
August 3, 2005

www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/opinion/editorials/stories/080305dnedihamas.1218ece0.html

With its Gaza Strip withdrawal now in motion, Israel is undertaking a painful but necessary step toward peace with the Palestinians. Tragically – no, infuriatingly – terrorist hardliners in Hamas are threatening to destroy what the Sharon government is achieving at great political cost to itself and searing emotional pain for the Israeli public.

Israel is pulling its settlers out of land their government encouraged them to colonize a generation ago, after Israel seized the Gaza Strip from Egypt in the 1967 Six Day War. Polls show an overwhelming majority of Israelis support the withdrawal. It’s not a matter of altruism as much as it is accepting blunt reality: Israel cannot continue to protect these settlements forever. And handing occupied territory to the Palestinian Authority is a prerequisite for any meaningful and lasting peace settlement. It is in everybody’s interest that the Palestinians succeed in governing Gaza.

Trouble is, the Islamist terrorist organization Hamas is stronger on the ground in Gaza than the Palestinian government under Mahmoud Abbas, and there is reason to fear that Hamas, which refuses to make peace with Israel, will attempt to turn the Gaza Strip into a terrorist statelet. Palestinian officials recognize that their security forces have to secure lawful government control of Gaza after the Israelis leave or their credibility before the world will be shattered.

The Palestinians’ first real test may come when the formal phase of Israel’s withdrawal commences Aug. 17. Hamas and other terrorist factions have threatened to attack Israelis during the pullout, to make it appear that Jewish settlers are being driven out by terrorist fire. Israel made it clear last week that it would meet any such offensive with a massive military invasion.

None of this need happen. The Palestinians are about to gain full sovereignty over the Gaza Strip and the chance to govern themselves. All they have to do is hold their fire while the Jewish settlers retreat. If they do otherwise, the road to a permanent peace is a dead end for the time being. It’s their call.

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