Mid-East Realitieswww.middleeast.org


August 26, 2001

MID-EAST REALITIES - MER - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 8/26: The terribly weak, confused, and co-opted Arab regimes, Arafat's included, are miserably losing the "propaganda war". Sure, the Israelis have suffered in some quarters in some ways; but nothing compared to the Palestinians. Arab and Muslim incompetence and powerlessness -- as their countries and societies are currently politically, socially, and economically organized -- has once again been grotesquely exposed, demonstrated nakedly for all to see in recent days.

The U.N. Security Council finally met again; and then did nothing, Arafat's mediocre representative doing his usually ineffectual job. Worse yet the Arab and Muslim regimes lack not the power, but rather the determination and the courage, to now take matters to the General Assembly and at least suspend Israeli membership, as was done with South Africa in the days of Apartheid.

The Arab League almost met again (Foreign Ministers ended up gathering rather than Heads of State) and did worse than nothing, "a million dollars" was given to Arafat to improve his "information" effort. Such a demonstration of impotence is an amazing example of how the Arab world nearly a century after "liberation" from the Ottoman Empire remains nearly totally shackled by Western domination and subterfuge.

In the U.S. the Israelis are setting up -- in additional to all of their already functioning institutions and connections -- a major "war room", compliments of their American Jewish patrons. Meanwhile the Arabs and their friends (including a few "liberal" and "progressive" American Jewish groups that all together amount to little more than nothing), have just a bunch of third-rate "client organizations" and hack representatives using the equivalent of occasional political rocks against political tanks and F-16s, but without the equivalent of political suicide bombers.

The new American President has now repeatedly spoken out publicly on Israel's side and met a few times already in the White House with accused war criminal Ariel Sharon, totally refusing however to even meet Yasser Arafat (as useless as that would be for the increasingly desperate Palestinian people anyway). And now George W is "threatening" to not even send American representatives to the world racism conference in Durban in a few days if the countries in attendance are "going to beat up on our close ally Israel". Expect the Arabs to whine and cave, as they always do.

Meanwhile Yasser Arafat is as usual prancing around the world pretending this and that; and de facto Prime Minister Nabil Sha'ath (the corrupt power behind the throne whom even the Palestinian Legislative Assembly demanded be removed and indicted) is in Damascus preparing for an Arafat visit there after so long. The Palestinian people remain saddled with this terribly defeated, incompetent, and corrupt "leadership" which has done so much to crush them and sell them out in the past; and which s still clinging to all the power and money to determine the tragic Palestinian future as well.

And so, yesterday in the occupied territories of Palestine:

By Shahdi al-Kashif

GAZA (Reuters - 26 August) - Israeli warplanes attacked and destroyed Palestinian security headquarters in three towns on Sunday in retaliation for the killings of three Israeli soldiers and two Jewish settlers the previous day.

Three Palestinians were hurt in the strikes by U.S.-designed F-16 and F-15 fighter jets in the Gaza Strip and West Bank which left the buildings in ruins, made large craters nearby and caused loud explosions that echoed through the night.

Four Palestinians were also killed in a bloody weekend that increased doubts the two sides will go ahead with planned talks on ending the 11 months of violence.

The dead included two gunmen who infiltrated an army base early Saturday, killing three soldiers and wounding seven in one of the most daring attacks by Palestinians -- and one of the most embarrassing for Israel's army -- in 11 months of violence.

Israel said it held the Palestinian leadership responsible for the violence, which took the death toll past 700 since the Palestinians began a revolt against Israeli occupation.

Palestinian security officials called Israel's air raids ''ugly aggression'' which made the situation even more dangerous.

Israeli jets struck the main headquarters of the civilian police in Gaza City, military intelligence and police headquarters in Deir al-Balah south of the city, and a police headquarters in the West Bank village of Salfit.

All the buildings suffered heavy damage and were reduced to little more than rubble.

Israel also sent bulldozers and tanks into the town of Rafah near Gaza's border with Egypt to flatten three security buildings. The Palestinians said a member of their security forces was killed in fighting before the army pulled back.

Israel said the raids responded to the attack on the army base near Rafah early Saturday, in which two Palestinians armed with rifles and grenades killed an officer and two ordinary soldiers in a 10-minute battle.

Two settlers, a married couple, were killed as they drove home in the West Bank near the city of Ramallah Saturday evening. The wife's brother, an off-duty soldier, was critically wounded and the couple's two infant children were hurt.

``Israel will not accept attacks like this against its civilians,'' said Dore Gold, an Israeli government spokesman.

Accusing security groups close to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat of involvement, Gold said: ``Israel...holds Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority directly responsible for the violence that we are facing.''

Palestinian police commander Ghazi Jabali called the Israeli strikes ``ugly, ugly aggression'' and said Palestinians would remain defiant in their struggle to create an independent state.

Another Palestinian security official called the air strikes ``very grave aggression'' and said they would lead to a ''very dangerous situation'' in the area. The military wing of the Damascus-based Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) claimed responsibility for the pre-dawn attack on the army camp.

The DFLP said the assault was a response to Israel's ``ugly war of aggression...against our people.''

The military wing of Palestinian Fatah faction, the al-Aqsa Brigades, claimed responsibility for the attack on the settlers.

At least 536 Palestinians, 152 Israelis and 14 Israeli Arabs have been killed in the violence which flared last September soon after peace talks stalled. The latest victim was a Palestinian whose remains were handed over by the army Sunday. Palestinian officials said he was hit by a tank shell but the circumstances were unclear.

The Israeli army was left trying to explain how the Palestinian militants managed to enter the base in south Gaza. The Palestinian gunmen fired 20 to 40 bullets and hurled up to 10 grenades in a firefight that lasted about 10 minutes.

Conceding the episode revealed military ``weaknesses,'' the army set up a committee to look into the attack, in which Major Gil Oz, 30, Staff Sergeant Nir Kobi, 21, and Sergeant Tsach Grebley, 19, died.

The two Palestinian gunmen were buried Saturday. Pumping bullets into the air, they vowed to strike more Israeli targets.

The atmosphere after the latest violence was hardly conducive to talks on ending the violence which the two sides are trying to arrange between Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres under German auspices.

Hopes of a breakthrough were already slim and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said the talks must focus on ending the bloodshed, not on political matters.

The Palestinians have been seeking more Arab support for their cause. A senior Palestinian official said Sunday Arafat would visit Syria on September 12-13, signaling a possible end to years of animosity over how to achieve Middle East peace.

By Ibrahim Barzak

[Associated Press, GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip, 26 August 26 2001 7:20 a.m. EDT] - Responding to the deaths of five Israelis slain by Palestinian militants, Israeli F-16 warplanes and tanks demolished police buildings in four Palestinian towns early Sunday. One Palestinian was killed and 18 injured in the raids.

One of the air strikes leveled a four-story building in the Gaza City police headquarters. The missiles set off a thundering explosion and sent plumes of black smoke into the air.

At least a half-dozen Israeli helicopters hovered near Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Gaza City, but eventually left without firing. Arafat has been away for several days, traveling in Asia.

The latest escalation made a resumption of truce talks an increasingly remote possibility. Last week, Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said they were ready to meet, but never set a time and place.

With five Israelis killed Saturday, it was one of the bloodiest days for Israel during 11 months of fighting with the Palestinians.

Among the victims were an Israeli couple driving on the edge of the West Bank and three soldiers killed when two Palestinian militants infiltrated an isolated army post and opened fire.

Israel usually targets Palestinian security installations in its retaliatory strikes because it holds Arafat ultimately responsible for attacks on Israelis.

Israel says Arafat's security forces do little to rein in the militants, and sometimes participate in attacks on Israelis.

"Whether attacking Israeli soldiers in Gaza or attacking Israeli civilians on roads near Jerusalem, Yasser Arafat is escalating his war of terrorism against the state of Israel," Israeli government spokesman Dore Gold said.

The Palestinian police chief in Gaza, Brig. Gen. Ghazi Jabali, said his men were "soldiers who will fight to the end in our just battle."

Viewing the rubble of a destroyed police complex in Dir al-Balah in Gaza, Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a senior aid to Arafat, said, "The occupation may succeed in knocking down our houses and our offices, but it cannot destroy the determination of our people, and such an aggression will increase the feeling of hatred and will break the bridge of trust between the two peoples."

The events began before dawn Saturday with the assault on the isolated Marganit army base in Gaza.

The Palestinian attackers climbed over separate embankments, breaking into the isolated base. Both began shooting and throwing grenades at soldiers, the Israeli army said. Three soldiers, including a major, were killed, and seven wounded.

Soldiers shot back, killing one Palestinian at the base. The second man managed to flee, but was pursued and shot dead about four hours later while attempting to take cover at a greenhouse in a nearby Jewish settlement, the army added.

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a small radical PLO faction, claimed responsibility.

Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi, a retired general, said Israeli must initiate actions against Palestinian militants. "You must seek contact with the enemy all the time," he told Israel radio. "You can't fight terrorism by sitting in fortified positions."

Palestinian militants have targeted Israeli troops and Jewish settlers in Gaza throughout the current conflict. However, in most cases, the militants have fired from a distance, or attempted roadside ambushes.

On Saturday evening, Palestinian gunmen ambushed an Israeli car on a road near the West Bank, killing an Israeli couple. The woman's brother, earlier reported dead, was critically wounded with a shot to the head, and the couple's two children, ages 1 and 2, were lightly hurt.

The Al Aqsa Brigade, a group of gunmen linked to Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the deadly ambush.

The first Israeli strike came Saturday night, targeting the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Israeli troops briefly took over several small Palestinian security outposts, and army bulldozers tore down the headquarters of Palestinian Public Security, according to residents and Rafah's Governor, Majid al-Ajha.

Israeli tanks and armored vehicles came under heavy Palestinian gunfire, and shot back with shells and machine guns, they added.

A Palestinian police sergeant, Alla Abu Bakra, was killed by machine gun fire, and seven Palestinians were lightly wounded by shrapnel, hospital doctors said. Abu Bakra was hiding in a trench at the back of the compound when he was killed, a fellow policeman said.

At mosques in Rafah, calls went out over the loudspeakers urging residents to join a "holy war" against the Israeli forces.

At around 3 a.m. Sunday, the Israeli forces withdrew from Rafah.

Early Sunday, Israeli warplanes blasted the police headquarters in Gaza City, the military intelligence offices in Deir el-Balah, south of Gaza City, and police headquarters in Salfit, in the West Bank, the Israeli military said.

Three Palestinian policemen were injured in Gaza and eight people were lightly hurt in Salfit, doctors said.

Israel fired three missiles at the Gaza compound, leveling two buildings, including a four-story structure housing the anti-crime department and offices.

Most of the files were burned and scattered. Palestinian policemen searched the rubble for belongings.

Policeman Hani Falem found his track suit in the debris. "Look, we both survived," he said, pointing to the clothing. Falem said most policemen, anticipating an air strike, had left the building.

Mid-East Realitieswww.middleeast.org

Source: http://www.middleeast.org/articles/2001/8/361.htm