The Doctor was blindfolded, handcuffed, shot six times and then tossed into the street

June 11, 2007

* In another especially horrific incident this weekend, Hamas kidnapped Mohammed Sweirki, 25, took him to the roof of a 15-storey apartment building and threw him off

* In revenge, a Hamas activist was thrown off the 12th floor of a building and killed last night. Four other Hamas men in the building were shot

* This dispatch contains news from non-occupied Gaza that most of the western media are refusing to print, even though – to their credit – both Reuters and The Associated Press have been sending it out prominently on their main international news wires to which almost every major news outlet in the world subscribes

* In spite of its prominence on the news wires, none of this was mentioned in international newspapers today such as the Financial Times and International Herald Tribune, not even in passing or in their short one-paragraph news briefs. Western media such as the BBC are too busy defaming Israel to notice what is happening in Gaza and Lebanon

 

CONTENTS

1. Medics in Gaza protest kidnapping and shooting of doctor
2. Taken to the roof of a 15-storey apartment building, and thrown off
3. Palestinians “yearn for a return to the Israeli occupation”
4. Gaza: The unreported kidnap victims
5. Palestinian journalists angry at use of “TV” vehicle in attack
6. Lebanon camp battle enters 4th week, death toll rises
7. Hamas doubles its warhead size
8. Islamic group in Gaza threatens to kill women appearing on TV
9. “Gaza hospital on strike after violence” (AP, June 9, 2007)
10. “Palestinians say fed up with gunmen” (By Wafa Amr, Reuters, June 7, 2007)
11. “Palestinian journalists slam use of ‘TV’ vehicle in Gaza attack” (Reuters, June 10, 2007)
12. “Poll: Most Palestinians depressed by violence” (Washington Times, June 10, 2007)



[Note by Tom Gross]

MEDICS IN GAZA PROTEST KIDNAPPING AND SHOOTING OF DOCTOR

The thousands of people who marched against Israel in Europe over the weekend – and in Washington, D.C. yesterday – seem barely to have noticed what the Palestinians have been up to since Israel withdrew from “occupied Gaza” almost two years ago. This is largely because the western media have not been reporting properly on the situation, even though the news has been sent out prominently by Reuters and The Associated Press, agencies to which almost every major news outlet in the world subscribe, and it is certainly gruesome enough to report.

For example, The Associated Press reported that “Medics at a northern Gaza Strip hospital walked off their jobs for a few hours Saturday to protest the kidnapping and shooting of a doctor by Palestinian militants... Dr. Fayez al-Barrawi, a known Hamas supporter, was blindfolded, handcuffed and shot six times in the legs, including a kneecap, and then tossed on the street. Hamas has said Fatah militants were behind the kidnapping.”

The AP article, which is attached below in full, continues: “Al-Barrawi worked at Beit Hanoun hospital in the northern Gaza Strip. Hundreds of Hamas and Fatah supporters have been kidnapped in recent months by rival gunmen. The treatment of the hostages, who are usually released after a few hours, has become increasingly harsh, and captives are often shot in the legs... Militants have also used hospital rooftops and grounds as firing points, prompting their rivals to fire upon hospitals, threatening staff and patients.”

TAKEN TO THE ROOF OF A 15-STOREY APARTMENT BUILDING, AND THROWN OFF

In another story, The Associated Press reported yesterday: “In an especially grisly incident Sunday, Hamas militants kidnapped an officer in a Fatah-linked security force, took him to the roof of a 15-storey apartment building and threw him off. Mohammed Sweirki, 25, from the guard of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, was killed in the plunge...”

“And just before midnight, a Hamas activist was thrown off the 12th floor of a building and killed, security officials said. Four other Hamas men in the building were shot and wounded.”

PALESTINIANS “YEARN FOR A RETURN TO THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION”

Meantime, at Reuters, even Wafa Amr, their infamous Chief Palestinian Correspondent, has quoted a Palestinian legislator who says that Palestinians are “so fed up with the armed groups ‘they now wish the Israeli occupation would take [back] over in Gaza or hope for the return of Jordanian rule in the West Bank’ to get rid of them.” (The full Reuters article is attached below.)

Last week, a leading Palestinian rights group reported that in recent months an estimated 620 Palestinians (including many civilians) have been killed by Hamas or Fatah and thousands injured – often deliberately by knee-capping and other such crimes.

This morning, gunmen opened fire at the Palestinian government building during a cabinet meeting, forcing ministers (including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh) to flee the premises.

In the last full article below, the Washington Times reports that “More than nine in 10 Palestinians show signs of depression caused by despair over violence between Hamas and Fatah gunmen and the apparent demise of the Palestinian unity government, according to a West Bank pollster. Jamil Rabah, the director of Ramallah-based Near East Consulting, said he found that 92 percent of Palestinian survey respondents suffer from depression-related anxiety.”

Does anyone plan a march in London and Washington to demand that Hamas and Fatah (which together make up the Palestinian “national unity” government) actually govern under democratic norms?

GAZA: THE UNREPORTED KIDNAP VICTIMS

Instead western news media like the BBC have reached new depths in their historical revisionism in recent days. With the BBC’s absolute skewering of the truth and ugly tone about Israel and Israelis (most recently in its reporting on the Six-Day War), it is not surprising that anti-Semitism has increased in Britain more than in almost any other country in the west in recent years.

Additionally, dozens of people have been kidnapped in Gaza, but the BBC has barely mentioned them in its daily reports about its kidnapped Gaza correspondent, Alan Johnston.

For example, a group of 15 armed men burst into the ministry of finance in the center of Gaza City and abducted the general director, Hashim Abu Nada, but the western media didn’t report it. (Abu Nada is former general director of Yasser Arafat’s office, and the administrator of hundreds of millions of dollars of western aid.)

In its world news bulletin a few minutes ago, for example, BBC World radio again mentioned that Johnston had been kidnapped but didn’t mention the gun attack on the Palestinian cabinet meeting today.

PALESTINIAN JOURNALISTS ANGRY AT USE OF “TV” VEHICLE IN ATTACK

The Palestinian journalists’ union yesterday criticized militants for using a vehicle marked with a “TV” sign to enter Israel on Saturday and attempt to kidnap Israeli soldiers.

“The use of vehicles that carry ‘Press’, ‘TV’ or other signs... expose journalists’ lives to danger, gives the Israeli occupation a pretext to target and kill journalists and restricts their ability to perform their professional and national duties,” the Palestinian Journalist Syndicate said.

The Jerusalem-based Foreign Press Association said in a statement the use of a vehicle marked with TV insignia represented “abuse of this recognized protection for the working journalist” and was “a grave development.” (Full article below.)

Neither organization bothered to condemn the attempt to kidnap Israelis, only the misuse of press credentials.

LEBANON CAMP BATTLE ENTERS 4TH WEEK, DEATH TOLL RISES

Fighting between the Lebanese army and Islamic militants in north Lebanon has entered its fourth week. Dozens of Palestinian civilians at the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp, where the militants are based, have been killed. It is Lebanon’s worst internal violence since the 1975-1990 civil war.

The Lebanese army has refused to allow Red Cross ambulances in to treat the injured civilians, some of whom are lying bleeding to death in the street, according to Reuters. Can you imagine the outcry at the UN, Arab League, European Union, human rights groups and in the international media if Israel had behaved this way?

HAMAS DOUBLES ITS WARHEAD SIZE

The ruling Hamas movement has doubled the size of the warhead of its Qassam-class, short-range missile, security sources say. They said the conventional explosive warhead was increased from three to six kilograms: “The new warheads are clearly more lethal, and kill or maim people in a larger radius.” Hundreds of missiles have been fired from Gaza into Israel in recent months, killing and injuring Israeli civilians.

Separately, Palestinian Islamic Jihad announced on Wednesday that it had “improved” rockets that had sufficient range to hit strategic targets inside Israel. In a statement issued by the group’s al-Quds Brigades, it was claimed that the new weapons, based on the Russian Grad-type rocket, contain more explosives and have greater range.

ISLAMIC GROUP IN GAZA THREATENS TO KILL WOMEN APPEARING ON TV

The Righteous Swords of Islam, a radical Islamic group in Gaza, issued a death threat last weekend against Palestinian women working for the Palestinian Authority’s official television station. The group accused the women of dressing immodestly and behaving in a way that violates the teachings of Islam.

They distributed a leaflet referring to the women who appear on Palestinian TV, “The saying these days is that the enemy has withdrawn from the Gaza Strip and so have our morals... It’s indeed disgraceful that the women working for the official Palestinian media are competing between each other to display their charms.”

The leaflet concluded by threatening to “slaughter” the women for supposedly spreading corruption in Palestinian society.

Members of this group have been known to splash acid in the face of a number of young women accused of “immoral behavior.” The Righteous Swords of Islam had previously claimed responsibility for attacks on Internet cafes in the Gaza Strip over the past year.

The threats against the female journalists and employees are very serious, but groups like Britain’s 40,000-member National Union of Journalists are too busy boycotting Israel to notice.

-- Tom Gross


FULL ARTICLES

TARGETING THE DOCTORS

Gaza hospital on strike after violence
The Associated Press
June 9, 2007

Medics at a northern Gaza Strip hospital walked off their jobs for a few hours Saturday to protest the kidnapping and shooting of a doctor by Palestinian militants, the first physician targeted in months of deadly infighting.

Dr. Fayez al-Barrawi, a known Hamas supporter, was blindfolded, handcuffed and shot six times in the legs, including a kneecap, and then tossed on the street Thursday. Hamas has said Fatah militants were behind the kidnapping.

Al-Barrawi worked at Beit Hanoun hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, close to the border with Israel.

Hundreds of Hamas and Fatah supporters have been kidnapped in recent months by rival gunmen. The treatment of the hostages, who are usually released after a few hours, has become increasingly harsh, and captives are often shot in the legs.

It is the first time a doctor was seized. However, militants often fire on paramedics and ambulances during gunbattles.

“We strongly condemn that medical officials should be the victims of security chaos,” said hospital director Jamil Suleiman, in a statement faxed to The Associated Press.

Scores of doctors and medics later marched to the office of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, demanding that the attackers be brought to justice. However, none of those involved in internal fighting were ever put on trial.

Medical institutions are often unwilling parties to the conflict. Hospitals in areas of militant strongholds often only treat parties from one side of the conflict, to ensure tensions do not break out in the hospital itself.

Militants have also used hospital rooftops and grounds as firing points, prompting their rivals to fire upon hospitals, threatening staff and patients.

 

“THEY NOW WISH THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION WOULD TAKE OVER IN GAZA”

Palestinians say fed up with gunmen
By Wafa Amr
Reuters
June 7, 2007

http://uk.reuters.com/articlePrint?articleId=UKL0740541820070607

For most Palestinians, black-hooded gunmen have long been respected symbols of resistance against Israeli occupation.

Now, frequent internal fighting and lawlessness gripping the Palestinian territories have transformed the militants into no more than gangsters in the eyes of many of those who once saw them as heroes.

“It’s very ironic but I’m relieved the Israelis have started a bombing campaign. The gunmen killing each other on the streets were forced to go into hiding,” said Mai, a Gaza housewife, referring to strikes aimed at halting rocket attacks on Israel.

Reflecting mounting public concern over recent fighting between Islamist group Hamas and his Fatah faction that killed some 50 people, President Mahmoud Abbas said this week Palestinians were on the verge of civil war.

The threat posed by internal bloodshed, he said, rivaled the dangers presented by Israeli occupation.

Gunmen, who once battled Israeli soldiers in the alleyways of towns and refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza, have turned against each other in an on-going power struggle between Hamas and Fatah – partners in a unity government.

Some of the militias formed by Fatah and Hamas are no longer controlled by their political leaderships and owe loyalties to clans or criminal gangs that enforce their own rules.

“Many of these groups are now a burden on society. They were created to fill a security vacuum under the pretext of national resistance, said legislator Nasser Jum’a, once a leading member of Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

“They then blackmailed people, attacked them and confiscated their freedoms as the weak official security forces failed to punish them,” he said.

FED UP

Jum’a said ordinary Palestinians were so fed up with the armed groups “they now wish the Israeli occupation would take over in Gaza or hope for the return of Jordanian rule in the West Bank” to get rid of them.

In one recent incident in the West Bank city of Nablus, gunmen told shopkeepers to close their businesses as a sign of solidarity with a Fatah leader arrested the day before in an Israeli raid.

The gunmen shot in the air, stole a bulldozer from the Nablus municipality and closed the main road with mounds of sand, dividing the city in the same way Israeli forces had during their operation.

For the first time in the city, a bastion for militants, most of the shop owners refused to close down.

“These people have caused us a lot of suffering and are not involved in national resistance,” said Najah al-Jabaji, who works in an advertising agency in Nablus.

But while sentiments seem to have turned against the militants, Israeli raids to detain them elicit strong public condemnation among Palestinians, who have long demanded the release of those held in Israeli jails.

Gunmen spearheaded a Palestinian uprising that began in 2000 and gained strength when Israeli military operations effectively destroyed the infrastructure of the official security services, some of whose members also belonged to militant groups.

The power vacuum was filled by militias loyal to a variety of political factions and rivalries spiraled into bloodshed after Hamas trounced Fatah in a January 2006 election.

More than 600 Palestinians have been killed in factional fighting since the vote, the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights says, a figure approaching the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the same period.

In a poll conducted by the Palestinian independent pollster NearEast Consulting in the West Bank and Gaza in May, 70 percent of those surveyed said they feel more insecure since Hamas came to power last year.

The poll, which coincided with a surge in internal fighting, also found 92 percent of respondents described themselves as depressed or very depressed, up from 22 percent in April.

“The internal crisis in the occupied territories was the main issue that made Palestinians feel depressed in May. It can also be noted that the problem of the Israeli occupation took a back stage in May,” commentary accompanying the poll said.

“The message is that people are tired of inter-Palestinian fighting. They are fed up with both Fatah and Hamas, and all they want is to live in security before any thought of fighting Israel,” Palestinian analyst Bassem Izbedi told Reuters.

(Additional reporting by Atef Sa’ad in Nablus and Said Ayyad in Bethlehem)

 

“A GRAVE DEVELOPMENT”

Palestinian journalists slam use of ‘TV’ vehicle in Gaza attack
Reuters
June 10, 2007

www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/869112.html

The Palestinian journalists’ union criticized militants Sunday for using a vehicle marked with a “TV” sign to approach Gaza’s frontier border with Israel and attempt to kidnap an Israel Defense Forces soldier from a position across the border.

“The use of vehicles that carry ‘Press’, ‘TV’ or other signs... expose journalists’ lives to danger, gives the Israeli occupation a pretext to target and kill journalists and restricts their ability to perform their professional and national duties,” the Palestinian Journalist Syndicate said.

“We stress our rejection of the use of media vehicles and the involvement of the press in any existing conflict, and we demand all parties stop using these methods,” said the group, the sole journalists’ union in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

News photographs showed the white armored vehicle, with “TV” in red letters on the front, at Kissufim Crossing after the attack, bullet holes in its windshield.

The Israel-based Foreign Press Association said in a statement the use of a vehicle marked with TV insignia represented “abuse of this recognized protection for the working journalist” and was “a grave development.”

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in broadcast remarks at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, said Sunday that the attackers used “a vehicle marked ‘TV’ in order to fool Israeli soldiers.”

He said the gunmen had tried “to take advantage of the special sensitivity that we have in a democratic country such as ours, to the right of the media to operate freely and independently in security-sensitive areas.”

Abu Ahmed, spokesman for Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, accused the IDF of fixing the TV sign to the armored car.

 

GAZANS MUCH MORE DEPRESSED SINCE ISRAEL LEFT

Poll: Most Palestinians depressed by violence
By Joshua Mitnick
The Washington Times
June 10, 2007

www.washtimes.com/world/20070610-122525-9811r.htm

More than nine in 10 Palestinians show signs of depression caused by despair over violence between Hamas and Fatah gunmen and the apparent demise of the Palestinian unity government, according to a West Bank pollster.

Jamil Rabah, the director of Ramallah-based Near East Consulting, said he found that 92 percent of Palestinian survey respondents suffer from depression-related anxiety, a jump of 15 percent compared with a poll in October and more than double the level from November 2005.

“The higher the level of depression, or discontent, the higher this score comes out, the higher the social fragmentation of society,” Mr. Rabah said.

Mr. Rabah said he built a depression index with questions used by the World Health Organization to study the Balkans.

The group polled 801 Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem for the latest survey, which has a margin of error of 3.4 percent.

The poll was taken last month, following a deadly flare-up between Hamas and Fatah gunmen that left dozens dead in Gaza and laid bare a dysfunctional unity government. The unrest cuts across region, political affiliation and social class, according to the poll findings.

Analysts fear the growing despair will cause more grass-roots Palestinians to be drawn into an internecine conflict, which has been largely limited to militias from rival parties and families. Other reactions include rising support for radical Islamic militant groups as well as increasing waves of emigration.

“There’s a high level of frustration. It’s getting dangerous. There isn’t any value to life,” said Ibrahim Habib, field-work coordinator for the Israeli chapter of Physicians for Human Rights. “A lot of people feel the [Palestinian] Authority is irrelevant.”

Cairo Arafat, a psychologist and an official in the Palestinian Planning Ministry, said that, though the survey doesn’t address levels of clinical depression among Palestinians, it indicates an erosion of Palestinians’coping mechanisms developed over seven years of daily clashes with the Israeli army.

In addition to the internal fighting, Palestinians are hemmed in by Israeli restrictions on their movement, as well as an international aid boycott of the government.

The government is divided, with the presidency controlled by the secular Fatah movement and the Islamist Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel, forswear violence and recognize peace accords.

“We’ve never [before] been a society where we’ve had any type of significant internal struggles,” Miss Arafat said. “Internal violence with the continuing levels of poverty and unemployment was a significant marker for many people that the situation was deteriorating further.”

Palestinians have become more critical of their leaders because of the chronic lack of security, but they also blame the international community for supporting parliamentary elections in 2006 and then turning their backs on the democratically elected Hamas government.

Though they realize the current Hamas-Fatah government is a failure, there’s little confidence that a new election will produce a more stable result.

“There’s a better diagnosis of the problem, but there’s no clear solution,” she said. “We’ve tried this, and we’ve tried that, and it’s not working. When you get in a position of not knowing what to do, it creates a situation of helplessness.”

Palestinians see the infighting as a significant blow to their decades of struggle for a sovereign state.

In Gaza, where the lawlessness is most acute, that situation has provided fertile ground for Islamic militants who are more radical than Hamas to lay down roots.

“The depression will move in more than one direction,” said Iyad Barghouti, a scholar who studies Islamic movements. “We will witness a multiplication of radical and fundamentalist groups.”


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