URGENT APPEAL: ISRAEL ATTEMPTS TO ASSASSINATE 3 MORE PALESTINIANS [The Palestine Monitor - 4 August 2001, 2:30 pm]: Just after 2:00pm today, an Israeli military helicopter fired two missiles at a car carrying three Palestinian men. The car was...near Ramallah when the first missile was launched and hit the rear of the car. Fortunately, the passengers had time to jump out of the car before the second missile hit the vehicle full-on, blowing up and burning it completely. To date, Israel has murdered 51 Palestinians, including 17 bystanders, through its policy of extra judicial executions. We, members of Palestinian civil society are shocked by these immoral and outrageous acts of state terrorism and call upon the international community to join us in our condemnation and our call for an international protection force to be deployed immediately to the Palestinian occupied territories. MER - Unconfirmed reports are that one of the targets the Israelis were attempting to kill today was Marwan Barghouti, head of Yasser Arafat's Fateh organization in the West Bank.
MID-EAST REALITIES © - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 8/04: In a sense it would be like the going after the associates of Jerry Adams and his Sein Fein colleagues in Northern Ireland. It was a policy followed to a lesser extent by the White South African government when it tortured and murdered persons associated with the ANC, almost in fact secretly poisoning Nelson Mandela in his prison cell. Israel's not new but still expanding assassination policy using high-tech surveillance techniques and precision munitions is now leading to a new stage in the long struggle, with new targets for both sides. Consequently a new level of violence and a growing cycle of revenge and counter-strike are likely ahead.
Aware of the risks the Israelis are now taking in possibly igniting passions throughout the region, and more importantly for themselves realizing the danger to Americans this situation could pose, U.S. officials used unusually strong public terminology to criticize Israeli assassinations this past week. The articles that follow explain why. Even so in the end the American words are more smokescreen than anything else, designed to deflect possible counter-strikes from themselves in the days ahead. After all it's the American CIA which is on site working closely with the Israelis, the Arafat Authority, and the nearby Arab client regimes -- and the history of the American CIA in places like Vietnam, Chile, et. al. in years past should be instructive as to what is really going on behind-the-scenes today in the once Holy Land.
Occupied Jerusalem: 31 July, 2001 (Islamic Association for Palestine - IAP) In a grave escalation of Israel's undeclared war on the Palestinians, the Israeli occupation army has begun targeting for assassination political leaders of the Palestinian resistance groups.
The new policy found expression on 31 July when American-made apache helicopter gunships fired several electronically-guided missiles at a building in downtown Nablus housing a media office affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic resistance movement, Hamas.
The deadly rockets reduced the building to rubble and twisted metals, instantly killed eight civilians, including two prominent Islamist political leaders (Jamal Salim and Jamal Mansour), two journalists, two academics and two children.
The bodies of the victims, which were shown on TV screens around the world, were incinerated and mutilated beyond recognition.
Islamist sources in Nablus described as "cheap disinformation" Israeli media claims that Jamal Mansour, 42 and father of five children, was associated with Hamas military wing, the Izzedin al Qassam Brigades
"The Israelis know quite well that he had nothing to do with Hamas military wing, all he did was media work," said Sheikh Hasan Yousef, an Islamist leader in Ramalla and a close friend of both Mansour and Salim.
Salim, 45, and father of seven children, was a lecturer at the Najah University and apparently had no connections with Hamas military wing.
The two journalists killed, Othman Katamani, 30, and the newly-wed Fahim Dawabshe, 22, were reportedly conducting an interview with Salim and Mansour at the time of the bombing.
Both were ordinary journalists with an Islamic orientation but had no affiliation with Hamas.
The two other adults killed in the bombing were Omar Mansour, a cousin and bodyguard of Jamal Mansour, and Muhammed Bishawi, a human rights activist who worked for the Nablus-based society "solidarity international" which researches and documents human rights violations in Palestine.
The most tragic of the victims are Ashraf Abdul Munim, 8, and his 10 year old brother Bilal, who were buried under rubble while sitting outside a grocery store down the street.
The killing triggered unprecedented bitterness and indignation throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip as tens of thousands of Palestinians spontaneously took to the streets shortly after the bombing, denouncing the carnage and demanding revenge.
Some of the slogans voiced also denounced Arab regimes for failing to offer tangible political support for the Palestinians and especially for refusing to exert pressure on Israel's strategic ally, the United States.
Predictably, Hamas reacted to the murder of two of its most prominent and intelligent political leaders by vowing to avenge their blood sooner rather than later.
Hamas Gaza Spokesman Abdul Aziz al Rantisi described the killing in Nablus as "exceeding all red lines."
"From now on, all Israeli politicians, Knesset members and ministers, from the criminal Sharon downward will be legitimate targets for our martyrdom operations."
Fatah leaders, too, made similar reactions, calling the carnage " a new hideous massacre added to Sharon's long list of massacres against our people."
However, some of Fatah indignation was directed at the PA leadership for failing to "provide real protection of our people who are being killed and maimed round-the-clock."
These strong words came from Husam Khader, a popular Fatah leader in the Nablus region who in the past warned PA leader Yasser Arafat against budging to Israeli and American pressure on the question of the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
In an interview with an Arab satellite television an hour after the carnage, Khader lashed out at Arafat for "behaving as if things are normal."
"We have 70,000 guns in storage under PA disposal, my question to Abu Ammar (Arafat) is that why we don't use them to defend ourselves..Should we wait until they (the Israelis) liquidate half of our people."
The horrible killing in Nablus ended a week of murder and "quiet assassinations" carried out by the Israeli occupation army which claimed the lives of at least 18 Palestinians and scores others, including four children, who were badly wounded and disfigured by indiscriminate Israeli artillery bombardment of civilian neighborhoods in Gaza and Hebron.
On 29 July, another wholesale "quiet assassination" took place at the village of Tubas just outside Nablus, when the Israeli army detonated via remote control a large bomb which Israeli agents had planted at a junkyard where six Fatah activists were about to have their dinner.
The powerful blast mutilated the bodies of the six youths, severing the head of one of them and scattering their flesh and limbs in 50-meter radius.
The killing was bitterly condemned by the PA which called on the world community to "protect us from the neo-Nazis."
"without jury, without trial, without arrest, without charge, without nothing they decide that somebody ought to die, and they send their murderers and get him killed," said Nablus Governor Mahmoud Alul.
The assassination of that many Palestinians, including unmistakable political leaders of the Palestinian political movements, in such a short time is expected to put tremendous pressure on Hamas, Fatah and other resistance groups to mount what one Hamas spokesman called "qualitative retaliatory attacks."
"We must strike terror in their hearts, otherwise they will kill us all, one by one," said the spokesman who asked for anonymity.
The bloodied escalation of the Israeli rampage against the Palestinians is also likely to prompt the PA to be more outspoken in demanding that influential Arab states with good ties with the US exert pressure on the Americans to rein in Israeli savagery.
A few days ago, PA official Sa'eb Ureikat told the Voice of Palestine that "our problem is not only with Israel and the United States, it is also with these Arab regimes that refuse to tell the US that enough is enough."
"There are thousands of American companies operating in the Arab world, if the Arabs stopped drinking Coca Cola, this alone would force the Americans to review their blind support for Israel."
[BBC News - 1 August]: Inside a Palestinian courthouse on Wednesday a crowd gathered, cheering and shouting "God is Great" as three men were sentenced to death for collaboration with Israel. They had been convicted of helping Israel's security services assassinate a leading Palestinian activist last year. Such killings are carried out by the Israeli army, or by Shin Bet, Israel's security services, known to Israelis as the Shabak.
Photo Caption: A Palestinian bomb expert gathers Israeli rocket parts
The Shabak is thought to have a large network of Palestinian agents on the West Bank. This allows Israel to identify those it says have carried out, or will carry out, "terrorist bombings". "Targeted military actions" - what the Palestinians call assassinations - are the result.
Sometimes this is tank fire, or rockets fired from helicopter gunships, as happened in Nablus recently when eight Palestinians, including two children, were killed.
There are other methods. In Bethlehem, eyewitnesses said a local Islamic Jihad commander had a narrow escape when four men threw off Arab disguises and opened fire with Uzis. The four were assumed to be from Shin Bet.
In another operation, an Islamic militant on the West Bank died when the headrest in his car blew up. Explosives had been placed inside by someone assumed to be a Palestinian agent of Shin Bet.
Photo Caption: Collaborators are crucial to Israeli intelligence gathering
Israeli security experts say that Shabak has a large number of fluent Arabic speakers, able to pass themselves off as Palestinians and go freely about the West Bank.
New recruits to these elite units are said to have to pass a test by going to a Palestinian market and talking to shoppers without raising any suspicions. Detained spies
The Palestinian Authority says Israel has carried out at least 60 assassinations since the intifada, or uprising, began 10 months ago. The PA says it has foiled many more attempts by Israel's secret services to kill senior Palestinian officials.
Khaled al-Qidra, attorney-general for the Palestinian security courts, said a number of "spies" had been detained. He said Israel provided collaborators with sophisticated equipment to track down Palestinian activists.
An Israeli Defence Ministry spokesman, Yarden Vatikay, said: "Israel has no policy of assassination, but will continue to arrest and attack those who pose a threat to Israeli lives."
The Israeli security cabinet met on Wednesday and decided to continue with the policy of "pin-point military strikes". The alternative, some Israelis say, would be all-out war with the Palestinians.
In recent weeks, a rising tide of newspaper leaks has revealed a debate within the Israeli Government and the highest reaches of the army and Shin Bet.
The question is: Should Israel launch a devastating military attack aimed at destroying the Palestinian Authority and ejecting Yasser Arafat? Early in July, the Israeli newspaper, Maariv, even published excerpts of what it called a top-secret Shin Bet document presented to the Israeli Prime minister, Ariel Sharon.
Some interpreted the document as a call for Yasser Arafat himself to be assassinated.
According to Maariv, the security agency concluded: "Arafat the man is a severe threat to the security of [Israel]. The damage from his disappearance is less compared to the damage from his continued survival."
Others within Israel's security agencies argued that any attempt to dislodge Mr Arafat could backfire, resulting in an even more radical Palestinian leadership, possibly run by Islamic militants.
According to accounts of a key Israeli cabinet meeting last month, Mr Sharon has firmly rejected talk of attacking the PA or removing its leader. "You're all big heroes with all your advice," he's supposed to have told right-wingers clamouring for an all-out military assault.
"At the end of the day, the responsibility is mine. This region is not going to war."
For the time being, that means the policy of assassinating Palestinian militants will continue - and that means a pre-eminent role for the Shabak and their agents.