Israel Resource Review 22nd March, 2002


AP: Documents Show that Arafat Remunerates the Killers
Greg Myre
Senior Correspondent, Associated Press Israel Bureau

Jerusalem (AP) - After seizing Palestinian offices and scouring thousands of papers, Israel says documents show Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat authorized payment to a militant who allegedly had been involved in killing several Israelis.

Israel's Public Security Ministry says the documents are important because they indicate that instead of arresting militants, Arafat provided support to fighters in his Fatah movement, which includes a militia responsible for many deadly attacks - including a suicide bombing in Jerusalem on Thursday.

The Palestinians said the money was for political and social activities only.

Arafat has denounced violence against Israeli civilians, and the Palestinian security forces have detained some militants, though they have been reluctant to act against those linked to Fatah.

Israel says Arafat must prevent attacks and make more arrests, and the issue is pivotal to negotiations to end 18 months of Mideast violence.

Israeli authorities have been poring over some 100,000 documents seized from Orient House and a neighboring building since they shut down the semiofficial Palestinian office in east Jerusalem last August.

Other than the letter authorizing payment to a wanted militant, no other such documents have been found, the Public Security Ministry acknowledges.

Some documents show Arafat in contact with Palestinian political and security officials whom Israel suspects of organizing attacks. However, none shows a direct link between the Palestinian leadership and specific acts of violence.

A document recently uncovered by the ministry and given to The Associated Press shows Arafat's signature on a July 9 letter approving a $300 payment to Atef Abayat, a leader of the Al Aqsa Brigades militia in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.

The Al Aqsa Brigades most recently claimed responsibility for Thursday's suicide bombing in Jerusalem that left two dead and threatened to undermine truce talks.

The letter, sent to Arafat by Kamil Hmeid, the Fatah leader in Bethlehem, lists Abayat as one of 24 people to be paid. All are Fatah political activists in Bethlehem, and as such, periodically receive stipends from the Fatah leadership.

"The documents discovered so far show Arafat transferred funds to Fatah and the Tanzim including its fighters," said Michael Widlanski, adviser to Public Security Minister Uzi Landau. Tanzim is a Fatah-affiliated militia.

But Hmeid, while confirming the document is authentic, disputed that interpretation.

"The money we receive is used for political and social activities only," Hmeid said. Israeli claims that money supports militia activities are propaganda, he added.

Boaz Ganor, head of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel, believes Arafat bears responsibility for Palestinian violence, but doesn't think that any paper trail exists.

"Arafat is too clever to use written documents that would link him to attacks," said Ganor. "He knows how to incite people, how to create the atmosphere, but in a way that doesn't directly point to him."

At the time the letter was written, Israel was demanding Abayat's arrest, saying he had already taken part in three lethal shooting attacks against Israelis in the West Bank.

They included a November 2000 gunbattle in which two Israeli soldiers were killed, and shootings on roads near Bethlehem in February and April of 2001 that killed Israeli motorists Tzahi Sasson and Danny Deri.

Two months after Arafat signed off on the payment, Abayat struck again, killing an Israeli woman near Bethlehem, Israel alleges.

Israel said it demanded Abayat's arrest several times, and that on October 2, Arafat told Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres that Abayat had been detained.

However, a day later Abayat was interviewed by an Israeli journalist, saying he was a free man and would continue to carry out attacks.

On October 18, a bomb exploded in Abayat's jeep in Bethlehem, killing him and two other militants. Israel, which has killed dozens of Palestinians suspected of involvement in attacks, was believed responsible, but has refused to comment.

Arafat's relationship to Palestinian militants has been intentionally shrouded in mystery since the Palestinian uprising began in September 2000.

He has denounced Palrations, particularly suicide attacks, that we have always denounced, and we shall hold accountable all those who facilitate and plan them," Arafat declared.

However, Israel said such statements haven't been followed up by strong action, and claims that Arafat also offers thinly veiled encouragement to militants.

Several Palestinian factions regularly carry out shootings and bombings, including the Al Aqsa Brigades, a militia that emerged after the uprising began and which is linked to Arafat's Fatah movement.

Members of the Al Aqsa Brigades swear loyalty to Arafat and his movement, but also claim to operate with some autonomy, and that Arafat has no specific prior knowledge of their attacks.

This has produced such strange scenarios as a March 2 suicide bombing that killed 10 people and was claimed by the Al Aqsa Brigades while the Palestinian leadership simultaneously denounced it.

Israel says it's a charade - that Arafat, whether or not he knows about attacks in advance, cannot shirk responsibility for his organization. Also, it says, the Palestinian Authority's 40,000-strong security force could be ordered to crack down on violent groups.

But the Palestinians say Israel makes that difficult by launching military strikes that have destroyed some of Arafat's offices and dozens of Palestinian security installations.

Israel's Public Security Ministry also says other documents suggest the Palestinian uprising was planned in advance.

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A Year After An Arab Terrorist Murdered Our Son: Why We Stay in Israel
Sherri Mandell

It feels crazy to live in Israel right now. A few people are leaving. I understand them. It's horrible to live with the violence, and the attendant stress and anxiety. We Israelis are so vulnerable: travelling in a car or bus, going to a cafe, even staying home. All have been woven with terror. Every time of day and night, we know we are targets.

One recent Friday night, we were awakened at 1 in the morning by the loudspeaker in our community. The announcement said: "There is a warning that there is a terrorist in Tekoa. Lock your windows and doors, sleep with gun, guard your children. Turn out all of the lights."

We quickly turned off the lights even though we are Sabbath observers. We locked the doors and windows. We put a chair in front of the front door. Then the phone rang. Our neighbor was calling to make sure that we had heard the warning.

The kids were scared, shaking. I told them that we would protect them, take care of them. That they should try to go to sleep.

The kids fell to sleep, all of them in our bed. I prayed and then slept fitfully, hoping that morning would soon be on its way.

Around 3:00 the loudspeaker came on again. The warning was over.

For now. But as I told my children, it's rare that terrorists warn you.

They certainly didn't warn my son, Koby, 13, before they stoned him and his friend Yosef to death, crushing their skulls so they were unrecognizable. Koby and Yosef were hiking near our home in Tekoa. The two boys wanted to know the canyon beyond our house like the backs of their hands.

They were killed for their love of the land. They were killed for being Jews.

My friend was at a movie in Jerusalem on Saturday night, the night of the massacre at the Moment Cafe when a terrorist killed 11 people. The manager stopped the movie and told the patrons what had happened and asked if they wanted the movie to continue. They didn't. They all went home.

Why do people continue to stay here even though we are being slaughtered by terrorists? Because many of us feel a deep sense of connection here, to our country, our heritage, and to each other.

The sense of connection manifests itself in surprising ways. Today I go to the makollet, the grocery store, and there is a man filling a cardboard box with goodies to send to his son in the army. The man picks out a bar of chocolate, plain milk chocolate. And the makollet lady, Rena, says: "Your son doesn't like that kind of chocolate. Noam likes crunchy chocolate."

Another story: My friend Ruth is at a kiosk buying a drink. A little girl says shyly to the proprietor: "What can I get for 2 shekls?" He says, "nothing." Then he hands her a shekl. "But now you have three. You can buy gum or a candy." Ruth fishes into her pocket. "Now you have four."

Here there is a feeling of family. Here in the face of pain and suffering, we don't feel alone. We feel that we are a net that is woven together and though it is full of holes, it is strong enough to lift us up.

If we make a hole in the net, the net is weakened. Of course it can be mended. But it will never be quite the same.

We don't want to make a hole in the net. We don't want to leave the place where our son is buried. We don't want to leave the only place in the world where time is measured by a Jewish calendar, where the celebrations center on the Jewish holidays, where the language is the language of the Bible. We don't want to leave the center of Jewish history. Now we are part of that long, hard history. We are part of the struggle of the Jewish people trying to live in their land.

My son died for being a Jew. I want to live as one.

Sherri can be reached at:

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The Arafat "Condemnation" Scam
Michael Widlanski
Correspondent for "The Media Line"

This week, Israel State Television (Channel One) and the Voice of Israel (Reshet Bet) fell victim (Wednesday) to a new variation of the "bait and switch" trick played by Yasser Arafat's media machine.

Arafat's media team first applauded the act, and, later, as pressure for a denunciation built up, carried out a particularly cynical display of media manipulation---issuing a statement labeled a "condemnation" (see text in English, Arabic and Hebrew below) which was really a condemnation of Israel.

Israel State Television and Israel State Radio only bothered to check the headline and reported that Arafat and the Palestinian leadership had condemned the latest terror act.

In fact, the opposite was true.

The Palestinian state media, particularly the Voice of Palestine (Sawt Felasteen) radio, embraced the terror attacks Tuesday and Wednesday against targets in Israel, referring to the men who committed them as "heroic martyrs" -mustash-hedeen in Arabic.

[Note: The use of the tenth form, "istash-hada" and "Mustash-hedeen", rather than the simpler first form "shuhada", martyrs -- "shahada", "giving witness" or "becoming a martyr" lends a clear heroic connotation to the act of giving up one's life. Suicide in Arabic is a negative or pjorative term, "antahara" and "muntaheer". Not surprisingly it is almost never applied to suicide bombers who kill Israelis.]

After an Arab man murdered seven Israelis this morning, several of them Arabs, by blowing himself up inside the 823 bus from Tel Aviv to Nazareth on Wednesday morning (about 7:25 a.m., Israel time, March 20), Palestinian state radio in its 8 a.m. newscast used only positive terms to describe the suicide bomber.

V.O.P. described him as "an Arab youth" who had "isstash-hada", become a heroic martyr.

"The operation took place despite the security measures taken by Israeli security forces inside the Green Line (i.e. the term V.O.P. uses to describe "Israel")," asserted V.O.P. anchorman Muhammad Sanouri.

Later broadcasts tried to justify the attack by saying that four of the seven people murdered inside the Israeli bus were soldiers.

The perpetrators of the other terror atacks in the last 48 hours were also described as "musallaheen", armed men, or "munafizeen", people who carried out the operation. None of the men were described as "terrorists", irhabiyeen, even though most of the targets were civilian in nature and inside the pre-1967 borders of Israel.

Arafat's radio outlet also used the term "heroic martyrs" to describe the two Arab terrorists who attacked Israeli civilians inside the Israeli moshav of Aviezer in the Eilah Valley Tuesday night. By two p.m., six hours after the attack-- Palestinian radio was already quoting the official statement of "a Palestinian spokesman", not Arafat or any other PA official by name.

Unlike the Israeli media, which celebrated the headline but ignored the content, the Palestinian media ignored the headline but emphasized the content, in other words, the whole statement.

As a service to its customers, The Media Line is furnishing the official Palestinian statement, with headline, as it appears on the official Palestinian web site, WAFA (Wikalat al-Anba al-Filasteeniyya).
[Note: The English, Arabic and Hebrew texts are quite similar, so that if your computer does not get one of the languages, you're not losing out. MW].

© 2002 Michael Widlanski

Text of Palestinian statement:

"The Palestinian leadership have condemned and rejected the operation against civilians near Um Al Fahem.

Ramallah, March 20, 2002 - WAFA :
Following the attack against Israeli civilians near the town of Um Al Fahem this morning, the Palestinian leadership issued this statement:

  • "The international community and the whole world who have stood firm with our people in the face of the Israeli attacks against Palestinian civilians, cities and refugee camps does not accept any Palestinians to target Israeli civilians inside Israel."
  • "In spite of the Israeli continuation of their siege, assignations and killing of civilians, there are honest efforts by Gen Zinni and other international parties after the UN resolution 1397 to end this war against our people and put an end to the Israeli occupation."
  • "The Palestinian leadership's efforts are concentrated right now on ending the Israeli aggression and lifting the siege and putting an end to the collective punishment. This requires from all not to do any military operations against civilians inside Israel, specially operations like this one in Um Al Fahem which the Palestinian leadership have condemned and rejected."
  • "Such operations may delay the implementation of the ceasefire and the implementation of tenet and Mitchell's plans."
  • "The Palestinian leadership calls on all the Palestinian people to work hard to achieve the Palestinian national interest and not to give the Israeli extreme forces an excuse by these operations to cover its attacks against our Palestinian people."

© 2002 Michael Widlanski, with citations from WAFA

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Text of Fatah Declaration Concerning Attacks on Civilians

Gaza March 21st 2002, by Wafa political editor

We are to give the efforts, exerted by the USA, the EU, The UN and the latest Barcelona declaration of the European council, a complete chance to succeed in achieving the long yearned settlement according to the international legitimacy and the UN and the Security Council's resolutions.

After the welcoming of the Palestinian National Authority to the latest Security Council's resolution, and to Gen. Zinni's efforts, all Palestinians should abide with the Leadership's related decisions, in order to protect the Palestinian national high interest. Breaking these decisions do not only harm the Palestinian national interests, but also considered as a violation to the Palestinian security and safety, which will lead to unnecessary violence that endangers the broad Palestinian public.

Every action carried out at this time, when hope is slowly returning to the citizens, would raise certain questions, like who is benefiting from such actions?. This question is essential and raises more questions, is the conflict between us and the Israelis on this Holy Land only a suicidal one? Or is it a struggle for independence and freedom in our own state? Or does anyone think that a confrontation can decide a war? Confrontations and armed struggle are merely a mean to move the political level towards negotiations, where wars can really be ended.

We do not seek to jump to hasty conclusions, but in every long war, a group or groups of war princes, brokers and others that we do not wish to name them immerge on the scene, that their interest is to recharge the flames of war, and every time the war dims, they refuel it, this is what we should be aware of, because we already know the Israelis and their ways of creating such action even if they hurt their citizens in order to use it against us, therefore the Palestinians should prevent such phenomenon, and inform the fraction that playing with the all's destiny is forbidden regardless the reasons or the motives.

We are for pluralism and we have encouraged it, moreover we had practiced it and still do, because we understand what pluralism is all about, it is for the benefit of the whole community and for the prosperity of the nation. Pluralism never meant that a fraction of the nation can control the fate of the whole nation.

For the Zionist false allegation of "land without people for people without land" we have paid a dear price that no nation on earth has came close to our sacrifice, we have struggled firmly against the occupier, and we have lost thousands of martyrs and millions of refugees and victims, this price we have paid in order to redeem our identity and to claim back our rights, our blood have moved the international communities and established our image as people fighting for their sacred freedom and independence, thus we will not allow any person or group to distort our clean image. The act near Um Alfahm yesterday against civilians, was useless and does not serve the Palestinian interest especially after developing recently, attacks against Israeli officers and soldiers and their military camps, such actions were never condemned by the international communities, but killing civilians is something else, something that shouldn't have taken place.

Yet we do not mean that every thing is back to normal, because the road is still long to the declaration of independence, and the vicious political struggle is still ahead of us, but the situation will be easier for both sides, as long it is peaceful negotiations based on the international legitimacy.

We hope that yesterday's action was the last of its kind. The Palestinians will not allow such acts to take place, because they do not serve the Palestinian national interest and such acts are aimless, useless and lack the right timing conducted by politically na´ve persons, such acts lack every national responsibility.

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