Palestinian leaders lambaste HRW report
Occupied Jerusalem: 2 November, 2002 (IAP News)
Palestinian leaders from across the political spectrum have strongly criticized a report issued Thursday by the American human rights group, Human Rights Watch (HRW), calling the report “tendentious, biased, and out-of-context.”
The report described Palestinian bombings inside Israel as “crimes against humanity,” but failed to use similar language when describing Israeli army and settler attacks against Palestinian civilians.
The report held the Palestinian Authority partially responsible for attacks on Israeli civilians, saying that the PA could have done more to prosecute individuals involved in martyrdom operations.
However, the report failed to appreciate the fact that the Palestinian Authority controls no territory and its President Yasser Arafat has been for many months under a suffocating siege by the Israeli army, crippling his ability to function.
Arafat described the report as “ unfair and dishonest.”
“This report deals with the effect but utterly ignores the cause. The Palestinian people have been facing and are facing a genocide,” said Arafat.
He added that “the world must remember that we are the victims.”
Stronger reactions came from the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, whose guerillas carried out many of the attacks and bombings the report condemned.
“There is definitely a Zionist touch in this report. It comes in the context of the overall campaign of vilification against our people and struggle,” said Ismael Haniyyeh, a senior spokesman of the group.
He accused Human Rights Watch of “utterly ignoring Israel’s genocidal crimes against our people which left us no choice but to defend ourselves.”
“We don’t have the necessary means to defend ourselves and our children. And in the face of this genocide and with the world doing nothing to protect us from Israeli tanks and warplanes, we are forced to turn our bodies into human bombs, because we are killed anyway.”
Other Islamist leaders denounced the report for “showing stark moral duplicity” toward Israel and the Palestinians.
“I don’t know why the killing of few Israelis in West Jerusalem or Tel Aviv is considered crimes against humanity while the killing of hundreds of Palestinians in Jenin and Khan Younis is not viewed as crimes against humanity. Indeed, we don’t understand why the report uses indecisive and soft language when describing Israeli crimes against our defenseless people,” said Abdul Aziz al Rantisi.
Mahmoud Zahhar, another Islamist leader in Gaza, lashed out at the report for “concentrating on the effect while utterly ignoring the cause.”
“The report didn’t pay attention to the overwhelming murderous repression that pushes those young people to blow themselves up in the streets of Israel. That makes the report too textual and far from objective.”
The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine also denounced the report as “reflecting Israeli propaganda.”
“The report only dealt with one aspect of the Palestinian struggle against Zionist oppression and occupation. It failed to point out that Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people made suicidal bombings inevitable,” said Jamil Majdalawi, a spokesman for the DFLP.