Muslims ransack Christian village in West Bank (& Arafat cousin killed in street)

September 09, 2005

* This dispatch contains information on Palestinian violence and terrorism in recent days, and the lack of effective action by the Palestinian Authority to combat it.

 

CONTENTS

1. Muslims attack Christian village near Ramallah
2. Palestinian incitement continues against the United States
3. Palestinians continue to fire rockets at Israel
4. Moussa Arafat assassinated in Gaza
5. PA does not need more money or weapons
6. Khamenei urges Jihad against the Zionist enemy
7. “Muslims ransack Christian village” (Jerusalem Post, Sept. 5, 2005)
8. “Arafat cousin killed in brazen challenge to Abbas” (London Times & AP, Sept.7, 2005)
9. “12,000 of our rockets can reach Israel” (Reuters, Sept. 3, 2005)

 



[Note by Tom Gross]

MUSLIMS RANSACK CHRISTIAN VILLAGE

The most prominent headlines from the Middle East this week again concern investigations into Yasser Arafat’s death. A new investigation, says the New York Times, concludes that Arafat probably died of a stroke and that the widespread rumors throughout the Mideast and elsewhere that he died of AIDS or was poisoned are unfounded. (This is even though Arafat’s personal physician, Dr. Ashraf al-Kurdi, said that French doctors had found the AIDS virus in Arafat’s blood.)

While widely reporting on this, the mainstream media has all but ignored an attack by hundreds of Muslim men on Taibe, a Christian village east of Ramallah. In addition to the many cars that were torched and other property that was badly damaged, a statue of the Virgin Mary was destroyed.

For many years Muslim intimidation and violence against Christians in Palestinian-controlled areas has received virtually no press coverage in the liberal-left media of predominantly Christian Western countries.

PALESTINIAN INCITEMENT CONTINUES AGAINST AMERICANS

Even in a week when the Palestinian Authority signed a deal with the US for the receipt of a further $50 million in direct aid, the Palestinian Authority continues to openly promote anti-American hatred.

In an official Friday sermon on PA TV on September 2, 2005 in the presence of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior PA officials, Yusuf Jum’a Salamah, PA Minister of the Waqf and Religious Affairs urged more resistance against American forces in Iraq towards the “policy of dismantling Iraq and dividing it geographically.”

PALESTINIANS CONTINUE TO FIRE ROCKETS AT ISRAEL

Following Israel’s withdrawal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza strip, Palestinians in Gaza continue to fire Kassam rockets into Israel. On Monday, for example, a Kassam landed between Kibbutz Alumim and Nahal Oz, Israeli communities in the Negev. Palestinian terror groups also continue to try and send suicide bombers; occasionally one penetrates Israeli security checkpoints, such as the suicide bomber who blew himself up at Beersheba bus station last week.

MOUSSA ARAFAT DRAGGED INTO STREET, KILLED IN GAZA

The lack of law and order in Gaza was highlighted this week by the killing of Moussa Arafat, a cousin of Yasser Arafat and former head of military intelligence in Gaza.

In the attack early on Wednesday, about 100 gunmen stormed Moussa Arafat’s four-story family home in Gaza City after exchanging gunfire with his security guards for 30 minutes. They dragged Arafat in his pajamas to the street, where they executed him. Gunmen also abducted his 29-year-old son, Manhal, and wounded four of his bodyguards. (Manhal was released today, Friday.)

Responsibility for the murder was taken by the Popular Resistance Committee, a Palestinian group which has links with Al Qaeda. The Popular Resistance Committee on their official website carries leaflets and video clips by Al Qaeda. The PRC has taken responsibility for numerous deadly attacks on Israelis in recent years.

The headquarters of the Preventive Security Service is just a block away, but security agents did not intervene as Arafat was murdered.

PA DOES NOT NEED MORE MONEY OR WEAPONS

It is common to hear Palestinian Authority spokespeople on BBC and CNN claiming that the PA does not have enough weapons or money to control the many Palestinian terror groups.

But George T. Abed, who retired earlier this year from a senior position at the International Monetary Fund and was appointed governor of the Palestine Monetary Authority, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the Palestinians have ample funds already which are being squandered. He warned: “Governance is poor. And that any money given to the PA would be wasted.”

The Palestinians already receive the highest per-capita donor aid in the world.

Lt. Col. Daniel Beaudoin, a senior officer at Coordinator of Israeli Government Activities in Gaza for the Israeli army also said this week that the PA has about 40,000 weapons, double the number permitted under the Oslo accords.

Beaudoin added: “The Palestinian Authority has been so busy trying to blow us up for last 30 years, and they haven’t been putting enough effort into trying to find some way of building up a viable system. And this is our expectation for the future.”

KHAMENEI UGRES JIHAD AGAINST ZIONIST ENEMY

A good deal of the logistical and other support for Palestinian terror groups continues to come from Iran, sometimes through Hizbullah, its proxy organization in Lebanon, or through Iranian-Syrian cooperation against Israel.

Last Saturday, the leader of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei, met Ramadan Abdullah, the leader of the Palestinian terror group Islamic Jihad.

According to the Tehran Times, Khamenei said “The Palestinian nation and brave youth should continue with the path of resistance with the cooperation of Jihadi groups.” He continued: “The Islamic Jihad has always called for cooperation with other resistance groups that will firmly stand against the dangerous conspiracies of the U.S. and Israel.”

Iran refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

The final article in this dispatch contains claims by Hizbullah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah that they have 12,000 rockets aimed at Israel. Israel left Lebanon in 2000 and since then Iran has helped build up Hizbullah forces aimed at Israel.

PALESTINIAN ENVOY HAILS GAZA PULLOUT

The Palestinian envoy to Tehran, Salah Zawawi, in a conference sponsored by the Iranian Society for Defense of Palestinian Nation, titled, “Zionists’ Defeat in Gaza, Reasons, and Future Developments,” hailed the Israeli pullout from Gaza.

He said “The Palestinian nation is solid in its confrontation with the Zionist enemy and would never abandon its solidarity.”

I attach three articles, with summaries first.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

MUSLIMS RANSACK CHRISTIAN VILLAGE

“Muslims ransack Christian village” (By Khaled Abu Toameh, The Jerusalem Post, September 5, 2005)

Efforts were under way on Sunday to calm the situation in this Christian village east of Ramallah after an attack by hundreds of Muslim men from nearby villages left many houses and vehicles torched.

The incident began on Saturday night and lasted until early Sunday, when Palestinian Authority security forces interfered to disperse the attackers. Residents said several houses were looted and many families were forced to flee to Ramallah and other Christian villages, although apparently no one was injured.

The attack on the village of 1,500 was triggered by the murder of a Muslim woman from the nearby village of Deir Jarir earlier this week. The 30-year-old woman, according to PA security sources, was apparently murdered by members of her Muslim family for having had a romance with a Christian man from Taiba...

“More than 500 Muslim men, chanting Allahu akbar [God is great], attacked us at night,” said a Taiba resident. “They poured kerosene on many buildings and set them on fire. Many of the attackers broke into houses and stole furniture, jewelry and electrical appliances.”

With the exception of large numbers of PA policemen, the streets of Taiba were completely deserted on Sunday as the residents remained indoors. Many torched cars littered the streets. At least 16 houses had been gutted by fire and the assailants also destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary…

The village was originally called Ephraim, and is thought to be the city to which Jesus came with his disciples before his crucifixion: “Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim” (John 11:54).

 

MOUSSA ARAFAT KILLED IN GAZA

“Arafat cousin killed in brazen challenge to Abbas” (By Times online and Associated Press, September 7, 2005)

A group of 100 masked militants stormed the home of Gaza’s former security chief before dawn today, dragged him out in his pyjamas and killed him in the street in a burst of gunfire.

The murder of Moussa Arafat, a cousin of the late Yassir Arafat, was being seen as the most brazen challenge yet to the authority of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President.

Arafat, 65, was killed after a 30-minute gunbattle between the assailants and dozens of his bodyguards. The fighting with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles raged just a block from the headquarters of the Palestinian security service. Mr Arafat’s oldest son, Manhal, was kidnapped by the gunmen.

The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), a violent group made up largely of former members of Abbas’ Fatah movement, later claimed responsibility. The group said that it killed Arafat to punish him for alleged corruption after the Palestinian security forces had taken no action against him. “We have implemented God’s law,” Mohammed Abdel Al, a PRC spokesman, told the Associated Press...

Mr Abbas fired Arafat, who had many enemies and was the target of frequent corruption allegations, several months ago as part of government reforms. Mr Abdel Al, the PRC spokesman, said that Arafat “was responsible for killing, stealing and blackmail”.

... In this morning’s military-style attack, about 100 gunmen overpowered dozens of bodyguards patrolling outside his four-storey home in an upscale Gaza City neighborhood. The attackers blew the iron gate off its hinges and tied up the bodyguards after a 30-minute gunbattle, Mr Abdel Al said.

After the attack, Arafat was dragged outside and shot in the sandy street. Palestinian police said three bodyguards were initially kidnapped, along with Manhal Arafat, but were later released. One bodyguard was shot in the leg. Residents said that they heard more than two dozen loud explosions.

The headquarters of the Preventive Security Service is just a block away, but security agents did not intervene...

 

HIZBULLAH “12,000 OF OUR ROCKETS CAN REACH ISRAEL”

“‘12,000 of our rockets can reach Israel’” (Reuters, September 3, 2005)

Hizbullah Chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah says ‘any hand that reaches out to our weapons is an Israeli hand that will be cut off’

Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged Wednesday his organization had over 12,000 rockets capable of hitting the whole of northern Israel...

 



FULL ARTICLES

MUSLIMS RANSACK CHRISTIAN VILLAGE

Muslims ransack Christian village
By Khaled Abu Toameh
The Jerusalem Post
September 5, 2005

Efforts were under way on Sunday to calm the situation in this Christian village east of Ramallah after an attack by hundreds of Muslim men from nearby villages left many houses and vehicles torched.

The incident began on Saturday night and lasted until early Sunday, when Palestinian Authority security forces interfered to disperse the attackers. Residents said several houses were looted and many families were forced to flee to Ramallah and other Christian villages, although no one was injured.

The attack on the village of 1,500 was triggered by the murder of a Muslim woman from the nearby village of Deir Jarir earlier this week. The 30-year-old woman, according to PA security sources, was apparently murdered by members of her family for having had a romance with a Christian man from Taiba.

“When her family discovered that she had been involved in a forbidden relationship with a Christian, they apparently forced her to drink poison,” said one source. “Then they buried her without reporting her death to the relevant authorities.”

When the PA security forces decided to launch an investigation into the woman’s death, her family protested for fear that the relationship would be exposed. The family was further infuriated by the decision to exhume the body for autopsy.

The attack is one of the worst against Christians in the West Bank in many years. Residents said it took the PA security forces several hours to reach Taiba. Others complained that the IDF, which is in charge of overall security in the area, did not answer their desperate calls for immediate help.

“More than 500 Muslim men, chanting Allahu akbar [God is great], attacked us at night,” said a Taiba resident. “They poured kerosene on many buildings and set them on fire. Many of the attackers broke into houses and stole furniture, jewelry and electrical appliances.”

With the exception of large numbers of PA policemen, the streets of Taiba were completely deserted on Sunday as the residents remained indoors. Many torched cars littered the streets. At least 16 houses had been gutted by fire and the assailants also destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary.

“It was like a war, they arrived in groups, and many of them were holding clubs,” said another resident.

“Some people saw them carrying weapons. They first attacked houses belonging to the Khoury family [looking for the man who had the affair with the women, not realizing he had already fled the village.] Then they went to their relatives. They entered the houses and destroyed everything there. Then they tried to enter the local beer factory, but were repelled by PA security agents. The fire engine arrived five hours later.”

Col. Tayseer Mansour, commander of the PA police in the Ramallah area, said his men arrived late because of the need to coordinate their movements with the IDF. “The delay resulted in the torching of a number of houses and cars in the village,” he said.

Taiba, the only West Bank village that is completely inhabited by Christians, is famous for its Taiba Beer factory, which was established by the Khoury family in 1994.

The residents are Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox or Greek Catholic. The village was originally called Ephraim, and is thought to be the city to which Jesus came with his disciples before his crucifixion: “Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim” (John 11:54).

According to some accounts, Salah a-Din, who led the war against the Crusaders, was responsible for the name change. He is said to have found the villagers there to be nice and kind – in Arabic, taybeen – and the name stuck, to become Taiba.

 

MOUSSA ARAFAT KILLED IN GAZA

Arafat cousin killed in brazen challenge to Abbas
By Times (London) online and Associated Press in Gaza City
September 7, 2005

www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,251-1769209,00.html

A group of 100 masked militants stormed the home of Gaza’s former security chief before dawn today, dragged him out in his pyjamas and killed him in the street in a burst of gunfire.

The murder of Moussa Arafat, a cousin of the late Yassir Arafat, was being seen as the most brazen challenge yet to the authority of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, just days before the scheduled Israeli handover of Gaza to Palestinian rule.

Arafat, 65, was killed after a 30-minute gunbattle between the assailants and dozens of his bodyguards. The fighting with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles raged just a block from the headquarters of the Palestinian security service. Mr Arafat’s oldest son, Manhal, was kidnapped by the gunmen.

The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), a violent group made up largely of former members of Abbas’ Fatah movement, later claimed responsibility. The group said that it killed Arafat to punish him for alleged corruption after the Palestinian security forces had taken no action against him.

“We have implemented God’s law,” Mohammed Abdel Al, a PRC spokesman, told the Associated Press.

Mr Abbas said that he would track down the killers - a pledge immediately put to the test by the bold claim of responsibility. Mr Abbas has said that he will bring bring Fatah fighters under the control of his security forces within three weeks.

The killing heightened concerns that Mr Abbas and his weak security forces will not be able to restore order in the increasing lawless coastal strip where armed gangs control the streets.

Palestinian officials said they viewed the killing as an attack on the government. Mr Abbas convened his top security officials and Palestinian security forces were put on high alert.

While the PRC is made up mostly of former Fatah members, it also includes militants from the Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups. It has taken responsibility for numerous deadly attacks on Israelis.

Members of the group were also arrested by Palestinian police for alleged connection to a bombing against an American diplomatic convoy in October 2003 that killed three Americans. Some were later released for lack of evidence, and others were freed from Gaza’s central jail by fellow militants.

Arafat’s killing came just hours after Palestinian security forces were unable to contain dozens of rock-throwing youths who charged toward abandoned Israeli settlements and climbed on an Israeli tank. A Palestinian teenager was killed by Israeli troops firing to keep back the crowd.

In light of the chaos, the Israeli military sought permission to pull its last soldiers out of Gaza before the September 15 target date, Israeli security officials said. Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, and senior Cabinet ministers were to consider the issue in a meeting later today.

Mr Abbas fired Arafat, who had many enemies and was the target of frequent corruption allegations, several months ago as part of government reforms. Mr Abdel Al, the PRC spokesman, said that Arafat “was responsible for killing, stealing and blackmail”.

“Now we have huge files about corrupt deals by Arafat and his son, Manhal, who is being interrogated and confessed to some of these corrupt deals,” he said in a telephone interview. Manhal is a senior security official.

In this morning’s military-style attack, about 100 gunmen overpowered dozens of bodyguards patrolling outside his four-storey home in an upscale Gaza City neighborhood. The attackers blew the iron gate off its hinges and tied up the bodyguards after a 30-minute gunbattle, Mr Abdel Al said.

After the attack, Arafat was dragged outside and shot in the sandy street. Palestinian police said three bodyguards were initially kidnapped, along with Manhal Arafat, but were later released. One bodyguard was shot in the leg. Residents said that they heard more than two dozen loud explosions.

The headquarters of the Preventive Security Service is just a block away, but security agents did not intervene. The security forces might have mistaken the shooting for one of the routine nightly training exercises militants stage in the area.

Cabinet minister Sufian Abu Zeideh said that the killing was an attack on the government. “He (Arafat) was a symbol of the authority,” he told Israel Army Radio. Arafat was a founder of the ruling Fatah movement and was a senior official in the Fatah Revolutionary Council, a top policy-making body.

After he was fired as security chief, Arafat was given the considerably less influential job of military adviser to Abbas. He was a target of previous assassination attempts and always traveled in a heavily guarded convoy, using an armored limousine that once transported Yassir Arafat.

 

HIZBULLAH “12,000 OF OUR ROCKETS CAN REACH ISRAEL”

‘12,000 of our rockets can reach Israel’
Reuters
September 3, 2005

Hizbullah Chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah says ‘any hand that reaches out to our weapons is an Israeli hand that will be cut off’

Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged Wednesday his organization had over 12,000 rockets capable of hitting the whole of northern Israel.

Nasrallah’s statement marks the first time an official Hizbullah source has disclosed specific information regarding the organization’s arsenal.

Under mounting international pressure to disarm, Nasrallah said Hizbullah would fight anyone who tried to take away its weapons.

“Any hand that reaches out to our weapons is an Israeli hand that will be cut off,” he told supporters on the fifth anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon.

“We do not want to attack anyone and will not allow anyone to attack Lebanon; but if anyone, anyone, thinks of disarming the resistance we will fight them like the martyrs of Kerbala,” Nasrallah said, referring to a battle in Islamic history central to Shiites.

The largely Shiite Muslim residents of the southern suburbs of Beirut, a Hizbullah stronghold, celebrated Nasrallah’s words with fireworks and cheering, witnesses said.

Nasrallah told thousands of supporters in the town of Bint Jbeil, part of a southern strip Israel occupied for 22 years, that Hizbullah, backed by Syria and Iran, would only use its weapons in defense of Lebanon.

“We do not want to drag the region into a war...We want to protect our country...” he said. “Any thought of disarming the resistance is madness.”

Hizbullah’s terror attacks were instrumental in prompting Israel to pull its troops out of the south in May 2000.

A United Nations Security Council resolution adopted in September demanded that Syrian forces pull out and all militias in Lebanon disarm. Damascus withdrew its forces in April.


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