Israel Resource Review 27th Febuary, 2004


Islands of Terrorism

John Waage & Salam Eid
Middle East Correspondent and Producer, CBN News

[The significance of this story filed by CBN in March 2003 is that the US law forbids US AID from assisting any humanitarian agency that is engaged in any form of military training] -- on the ISRAEL-LEBANON BORDER -- Thousands of young Palestinians live in the crowded refugee camps of Lebanon. The camps have never been pleasant places to live, but now some say they have become islands of terrorism, a breeding ground for children to learn military tactics in the war against Israel.

CBN News was able to obtain exclusive footage of the training in the Lebanon camps, showing what really goes on. And if it isn't shocking enough that little children are being trained for war, these same camps are largely funded by western tax dollars, funneled through the United Nations.

It is a regimented life for the children in Lebanon's Ain El Hilweh refugee camp. Sometimes, they play. But more often they train in the ways of war, learning to march, learning to fight against Israel. Fresh-faced and serious beyond their years, they describe their deadly goals.

Muhmad Rida al Morsi, age 12, said his dream is, "to make an operation against Israel as a holy martyr."

Another refugee camp resident, Issa El Igraibi, confirmed an identical ambition. "I am getting the training to carry on an operation as a holy martyr against the Israeli enemy," he said.

Ayya, another 12-year-old, said his goal is: "To liberate our land, Palestine."

Many Palestinians in the Lebanon camps would like to cross the border and attack Israelis. But some observers are asking why the Palestinians are getting military training in camps sponsored by the United Nations.

Avi Becker, Secretary-General of the World Jewish Congress, says the camps pose a threat to Israelis. "Some of these camps are today practically terrorist camps, military bases. And they are used as part and parcel of the war machinery against Israeli civilians," he said.

The Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and elsewhere are largely funded by UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. The United States contributes far more than any other nation to the UNRWA budget.

The Ain El Hilweh Camp, Lebanon's largest, is located near Sidon in South Lebanon. But the UN-sponsored camps are spread throughout Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and the West Bank and Gaza.

CBN News showed its footage of the children's military training to Maher Nasser, an UNRWA official with the liaison office in New York. Nasser said, "UNRWA is not responsible for what's going on in the camps. UNRWA is a provider of humanitarian services. We run schools, we run clinics, we provide sanitation services."

Nasser says the UN does not deal with security issues in the refugee camps. He said, "What happens outside our installations, what happens with the children in our schools after they go home, we have no control of."

According to Nasser, the Lebanese government and the P.L.O. are accountable for the military activities in the camps. But Avi Becker says the real culprit is Syria.

"Syria today is really, practically, the sovereign of Lebanon, and whatever happens there, whatever happens in the northern borders of Israel, and whatever happens in the Palestinian camps, is of course under the complete responsibility of Syria," Becker said.

Palestinian refugees are not just fighting Israel. They are also fighting each other. A number of deadly incidents in the camps show that the tension between the Islamic groups could explode at any time.

Colonel Munir Al Makdah is part of Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction of the P.L.O. He supervises the military training in the Lebanese camps. Critics say Al Makdah is a counterfeiter and a terrorist who gets money from Iran and gives arms and money to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Al Makdah said, "We prepare our sons and children, and we mobilize them and tell them about our right to the land which was raped by the Israeli enemy. And many nations are trying together to legalize the occupation and to make our people forget about their land."

The UN, the Arab states, Europe and the U.S. have all allowed the situation in the refugee camps to fester for decades. Most of the refugees are the descendants of Palestinian Arabs, who fled when Arab armies attacked the new state of Israel in 1948. More than three million Palestinians around the world demand the right of return, to go back and live in what is now the land of Israel.

Al Makdah trains the children with that goal in mind. "Yes, they can support the Intifada. Yes, they can resist the occupation. And they will not let the region enjoy peace as long as there is one refugee out of his homeland, and as long as a part of our Palestinian soil is occupied," he said.

Both supporters and critics of the UN believe that conditions must improve for the Palestinian refugees. But Avi Becker says that to allow them back into Israel would be national suicide for the Jewish state.

Becker said, "There must be an attempt, a sincere attempt, to rehabilitate the life of the Palestinians and to give them an opportunity outside the camps wherever they are, because the right of return cannot materialize. This is the end of the state of Israel, and it is clear to everybody."

And Becker wonders why the UN bans military activity in its refugee camps worldwide, but allows it in the Middle East. "The United Nations should follow its own standard, and it should not apply a double standard to the Middle East," he said. "Kids should not be part of military education and military groups, and this is done every day in the UNRWA camps."

Meanwhile, the children of the camps -- perhaps tomorrow's terrorists -- prepare for war against Israel and, if their leaders have their way, war against the U.S., as well. Al Makdah said, "If Iraq will allow the Palestinian volunteers, they will fight with Iraq side by side in defending our Arabic and Muslim nation, resources, history, and geography."

This piece ran on CBN News on March 31, 2003

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UNRWA Palestinian Refugee Camps:
Will U.S. Dollars Fuel a Future War with Israel?
John Waage
CBN News Sr. Analyst (CBN News) - No issue fans the flames of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more than the so-called "right of return" to Israel for Palestinian refugees. Israelis say the influx of nearly four million Arabs would mean national suicide for the Jewish state. But in the Arab world, the right of return is a part of jihad. The Palestinian refugee camps, largely funded by American tax dollars, are a front line in that battle. When you think of refugees, you might think of oppressed women and children fleeing African tribal wars, or South American drug battles.

The dictionary defines "refugee" as a displaced person, "one who flees to a shelter or place of safety." These are the Palestinian refugees of South Lebanon. They are a people who may be displaced, but scenes from the Ain el Hilweh camp suggest an environment that is anything but safe. The residents carry and fire weapons, often at each other. They immerse their children in the ways of jihad, and stockpile munitions for a battle they hope to fight against Israel.

The Palestinian refugees are Arabs, and their descendants who left or were driven out of Israel in 1948. That year, modern Israel was born, and the surrounding Arab nations immediately tried to wipe it off the map.

Fifty-six years and four wars later, Israel is a strong democracy, the only one in the Middle East. But the world has done very little to help the Palestinian refugees adapt to that reality.

Most of them are kept in camps run by U.N.R.W.A, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. Last year, the United States gave more than 85 million dollars to U.N.R.W.A. for general funding, and nearly $50 million for emergency aid. But Middle East Analyst Raphael Israeli says it doesn't translate into any goodwill for America in the Palestinian camps.

Israeli says, "America is the main provider. The more it provides, the more it is hated by the same people who get the benefits."

Inside the camps, life is dominated by one central thought, and that is a return by force to the land that is now Israel.

Khalid Aref, a PLO representative in the camp, says, "There is no place under the sun but Palestine, whether the enemy will accept our rights or not. The Palestinian people, through armed struggle, is able to make the return possible."

Abu Ahmed Fadel is a leader of Hamas in South Lebanon. He says, "We have the conviction that the resistance is what will liberate us. The resistance will make the occupation go away. After the liberation, the return will happen."

Last December, at a demonstration in the Ein al Hilweh camp, protesters called for an Islamic revolution against Americans in Iraq, and for the killing of Jewish residents in the West Bank.

Some find it strange that such messages are coming from UN-sponsored camps, subsidized by American taxpayers, especially when America is in the middle of a war on terrorism.

And while the refugees suffer from poverty and crowded living conditions, the weapons are more advanced than the infrastructure. Critics say many Arab leaders need to keep the Palestinian issue alive, to deflect attention away from their own regimes.

Israeli says: "They want to perpetuate the refugee problem in order to continue to bash Israel for having caused the problem. If it is solved, how could they bash Israel any longer?"

In Lebanon, the Palestinians have built virtually a state within a state. The Lebanese army isn't about to disarm the PLO. And Hamas factions in the camps. In Syria and Jordan, residents of the refugee camps are severely restricted in their work opportunities and freedom to move.

Israeli's solution is to make the West Bank part of Jordan, which is in effect a Palestinian state, and to allow the refugees to return there. But that wouldn't play well with Jordan's King Abdullah or with Israelis living on the West Bank, in Judea and Samaria.

That solution is also rejected by the refugees themselves, who say they will settle for nothing less than the land of Israel.

Abed Makdeh says, "There will be no peace. If there is no right of return, there will be no stability in the whole world, unless the Palestinian people will return to their homeland."

In the meantime, the United States continues its money transfers to the UN for the Palestinian camps, with no public plan for disarming the militias or for holding the aid recipients accountable for their actions.

This piece aired on CBN News on February 11, 2004

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Congressman Eric Cantor (R-Va). Analyzes UNRWA Palestinian Refugee Camps
Gordon Robertson
Interviewer, CBN Gordon Robertson recently spoke with U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), the Chairman of the House Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare. He asked him about the use of U.S. taxpayer funds to support camps for Palestinians, a people who harbor a fierce hate for Americans, and who seem determined to wage a war against Israel and the U.S.

Gordon Robertson: Joining us now from Capitol Hill is Eric Cantor. He's the Chairman of the House Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare. Congressman, welcome to The 700 Club.

Rep. Eric Cantor: Good morning, Gordon, it is good to be with you.

Robertson: Good to have you on. Well, the United States seems to be funding a third of the budget for this UN Refugee and Works Agency. Why are U.S. taxpayers supporting these kinds of armed camps that seem to hate us?

Cantor: Gordon, that is a great question, and something that I have been troubled by ever since coming to Washington a few years ago. But it is a fact that the U.S. taxpayers are funding the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency, which was an agency created shortly after the birth of modern Israel, to administer these camps in which Palestinian individuals live. There's no question, these camps are a hot bed of anti-American and anti-Israel activity that the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) and Hamas leaders, the terrorist organizations that operate there, have one goal and that goal is to overtake Israel, and to return, as they say; that is their right. In fact, though, Gordon, there is nothing but, I think, subterfuge behind this. This is a way for them to wipe out Israel without -- this right of return is a way for them to wipe out Israel without taking up arms, if they were able to succeed in accomplishing the world acceptance of that right of return. So it's a very difficult situation, and here in Washington, what we are trying to do is to bring some accountability to the table to find out where these taxpayer dollars are actually going and where they're being spent.

Robertson: Is part of the problem here just the nomenclature, what we're calling these things? For me, if a refugee camp has been in existence for half a century, we might want to start calling it something other than a refugee camp. Because they're no longer refugees. We are talking about generations that have lived there. Why do we seem to have this almost bubble around them to say, no integration into the culture around you?

Cantor: There is no question that a culture has bred in these camps. The Palestinians who administer the camps, the Hamas unions that administer these camps, as well as the neighboring Arab states, unfortunately are not looking out for the rights of these people. And these people are actually serving as pawns in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Arab-Israeli conflict, and it is a real shame. And you're right. The United Nations ought to take some action and here in the United States, we ought to demand accountability for our taxpayer dollars being spent in this way.

Robertson: What about just at a minimum disarming them, to say having weapons within these camps is prohibited? Why can't we at least insist on that?

Cantor: Gordon, that makes a lot of common sense. I think that the United Nations would say, of course we don't allow any arms or any type of terrorist activity to take place. But we see what happens when Israel goes into some of these camps in Judea and Samaria, and we see the arms and bombmaking facilities that are uncovered, and we also see the outcry of the rest of the world that Israel should not be going in to the so-called refugee camps. There is a matter of security for Israel, though, that we do take some action and allow Israel to secure itself against the terrorists that are operating inside these camps.

Robertson: And is there anything Congress can do? Can we lobby Congress for some kind of change here?

Cantor: I have been a sponsor of a bill which will deny any of the aid to UNRA until we get an accountability of the money being spent. It is extremely hard, unfortunately, to get the cooperation of the folks at UNRA to actually come forward with their plans to try and right the situation there. So absolutely, I would ask your viewers to call their members of Congress and their senators to see about getting active in legislation in this area, to force some accountability for our taxpayer dollars.

Robertson: What's that bill number?

Cantor: That is a bill put in last session, Gordon, and we're working on, having just come back in January, to put another bill in. We'll get back to you on the bill number, to make sure that the callers can call their members.

Robertson: All right, congressman. Thanks for being with us. We'll give you more updates, for you viewers, we'll have it on our web site, as to what that bill will be and how you can get involved to stop funding of terrorism within these Palestinian camps.

Interview aired on CBN on February 26th, 2004

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New Unconditional US Support

U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
February 27, 2004

Statement by Richard Boucher, spokesman

United States Support for Palestinian Refugees

President George W. Bush on February 25, 2004 authorized the Department of State to use up to $20 million from the U.S. Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund to assist Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This contribution is in response to the agency's $193 million 2004 emergency appeal to fund food, shelter, health, and other humanitarian needs of the over 1.5 million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza. The United States is the largest bilateral donor to UNRWA. We encourage other donors to contribute urgently to this emergency appeal.

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Statement of the Jewish Community of Katif
Moshe and Rachel Saperstein

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is a man whose accomplishments put the entire Nation of Israel in his debt.

But the Prime Minister, with the support of the US State Department and the UN, has proposed the unilateral dismemberment of seventeen prosperous and productive Jewish farming communities, not even in the framework of a peace agreement. Acting without cabinet or Knesset support, and with the publicly stated opposition of the Israel Defence Forces COS, Head of Military Intelligence, Head of the SHABAK -- even the general assigned to prepare the plan told his colleagues it would be a "catastrophe" -- the Prime Minister has decreed that all seventeen communities must be forcibly uprooted.

Whatever the Prime Minister's motivation, the effects of his plan are clear.

The plan is not only strategically indefensible, inviting even more terror, the scenes of Jews being torn from their homes can only have a devastating impact on a citizenry already demoralized by the Prime Minister's failure to deliver the security he promised.

The Katif communities are part of the productive sector of Israel. Katif was not pioneered at the expense of Arab owned land. Katif does not lie in the heart of Gaza but is contiguous to Gaza.

If Katif is dismembered, all of Judea, Samaria, the Golan and Jerusalem will be targeted for dismembering. And Israel will return to what Abba Eban called its "Auschwitz" borders. As Katif goes, so goes the nation of Israel.

[Thank you for taking the time to read this page.
From the Jewish Community of Katif.]

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The Personal Toll of Terrorism in Israel:
Written the day of the Bus Bombing in Jerusalem
David Bedein

Ever since the restaurant at the Beit Agron Press Center in Jerusalem closed a while ago because of declining tourism, Yehudah Haim's sandwich business at the corner grocery store has been booming. He would remake each pre-prepared sandwich with healthy fresh bread and any condiments that the customer would ask for. He knew exactly how many pickles I liked with my tuna fish, and just how much mayonnaise I liked with my egg salad. And he carefully cut each fresh vegetable to order. I had a special need, since I would wash my hands at Beit Agron and make the blessing over the bread only when I got to the store. I became used to hearing Yehudah's "Amen" to the first bite in my sandwich, before he would fill it with his goodies for me yet again.

On Sunday morning, I was on the bus to work, passing the old Jerusalem train station when we heard the bus in front of us blown to bits.

My first instinct was to run to the bus, and don my press badge to report what I saw. My friend with me had a digital camera, and he quickly snapped shots and got them in real time to the media.

Yehudah Haim, the sandwich maker, my friend, was on that ill-fated bus in front of us, also on his way to work.

All I have been able to think about for the past 24 hours is Yehduah's smiling face on Friday, when he said "Amen" to my blessing on a tuna bagel, when he wished me a good Shabbat. He is now a smiling face that the PLO has turned into a lifeless body. Today at lunch, I felt that I had lost my lunch partner. In my tiny country of Israel, everyone knows everyone else. Maybe Yehudah will say Amen to my blessing from heaven above.

The reality of media reporting continued, as Yehudah was being buried.

Fanny Haim, Yehuda's widow, had the presence of mind to write the following open letter to the judges in The Hague, where a European court holds hearings on the "legality" of a fence designed to keep murderers from killing people like Yehuda. In the hours before she buried her husband, she published the following letter in the daily Yediot newspaper here in Israel: "Today, in The Hague, you will sit in judgment.

Today, I will bury my husband, my heart has been cut in two.

I am not a politician.

I am appealing to you as someone who has lost her husband, a woman whose heart has been silenced - and a woman whose tragedy the separation fence could have prevented. I was married to Yehuda for 21 years.

He was the love of my youth, since I was 15.

Yehuda's sister is the wife of Israel's Economic Attache in The Hague and works in the Embassy there.

For months, she, her husband and the Embassy staff have been trying to open the world's eyes.

For months, they have been fighting for the rights of the State of Israel.

As for me, what could I have asked for? Only for my small right, my husband's right, the right to see our children grow and prosper, go to school and serve in the army.

I will no longer receive this right.

But today, you can see to it that other Israeli families will merit this basic thing - to raise a happy family, to get up in the morning without bereavement, without gravestones, and without cemeteries. Today, as you begin your deliberations with open eyes, think, just for a moment, about the ordinary people behind this bloody conflict. Think for a moment about the golden heart of my husband, Yehuda, and about our young son, Avner.

Maybe you can explain to him - he's only ten years old - why in God's Name he doesn't have a father any more?

People will enter your hall today, who will speak, who will accuse. Mourners will enter my home and I will be unable to understand and I will certainly not be consoled.

This evening, you will go home, kiss your spouses, hug your children - and I will be alone.

True, the politics are far from me, but now as the pain is far too close to me, I think that I have acquired, with integrity and with tears, the right to appeal to you and say: If there had been a fence all along the length of the state, then maybe I, just like you, could kiss my husband this evening. Do not judge my country; do not restrain it from preventing additional people from becoming victims. Today, I am burying my husband; don't you bury justice. - Fanny Haim"

Tomorrow I must take the bus to work and home again. For here in Israel, life must go on.

This article ran in, 25th February 2004

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