Israel Resource Review 15th September, 2002


PA Democracy in Action:
Palestine Legislative Council Meets . . .
And PA Security Services Round Up 200 Dissidents and Begin Executions
David Bedein

A side show to the middle east international news attention this week that was focused on Saddam Hussein was provided at the meeting of the Palestinian Legislative Council at the private office compound of Yassir Arafat in Ramallah, a gathering that was acclaimed by the world's press as an exercise that exemplified Palestinian democracy.

So far, so good, unless you want to know the details of what really transpired this week in Ramallah.

Yet over the past two weeks, the Palestinian Authority security services have rounded up more than 200 dissidents, accusing them of cooperation with Israeli authorities.

In the words of Khaled Abu Tumah, writing in the Jerusalem Post on August 24, 2002, reported that all 200 jailed dissidents could expect to be executed very shortly. Many of them have complained of torture and may face execution. Among the suspects are former Fatah and Hamas members who have been leveling accusations against alleged widespread corruption in the Palestinian Authority.

Two of the suspects,are expected to go on trial before a "state security court" in Gaza next month. One of them is Haidar Ghanem, 39, a resident of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency Rafah refugee camp, who worked as a field researcher for a human rights organization.

A second dissident, Akram Zatmeh, 23, was arrested and accused of assisting Israel in the assassination of top Hamas terrorist Salah Shehadeh, on Gaza July 22.

Ghanem and Zatmeh will face the death penalty.

As the PLC convened,two other Palestinian dissidents in custody were summarily executed, and former Russian Jewish Prisoner of Zion Ida Nudel held a meeting with Papal ambassador to Israel, the Papal Annuncio, Msgr. Pietro Sambi to intervene on behalf of the dissidents against the Palestinian Authority.

As Nudel said to the Vatican ambassador, "we who were dissidents in a totalitarian regime know that only when the moral voices of the world make their voices heard will the lives of the dissidents be spared".

However, Akram Zatmeh's lawyer's appeal to international human rights organizations to intervene on behalf of her condemned client fell on deaf ears.

Organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Association of Civil Rights in Israel have expressed no interest in the fate of 200 Palestinian dissidents. When I asked a high level delegation of European Union diplomats who visited the Palestinian Authority this week if they would intervene on behalf of 200 dissidents condemned to die by the PA, EU commissioner Anna Diammatopoulou would only answer with the platitude that "we know that there is a problem of human rights in the Palestinian Authority".

It would seem that the spin masters of the Palestinian Authority have hypnotized the world's media, diplomatic community and international human rights organizations into believing that 200 dissidents who were condemned to die are no more than "collaborators", a term that connotes those European nationals who worked with the Nazis during World War II and who of course deserve to die.

As the PLC sessions continued in Ramallah, 200 PA dissidents sat in death row of the Palestinian Authority, and nobody seemed to care.

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US to Israel
"Keep a Low Profile on Iraq"
Yoav Limor
Correspondent, Maariv

The United States asked Israel to "keep a low profile" about Iraq for fear that statements by senior Israeli officials could sabotage its efforts to obtain international support in the coming war.

The Americans said that the many statements that have been made in Israel concerning Iraq are sabotaging its efforts to convince western countries, and some Arab countries, to support the attack on Iraq. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has decided to accede to the American request. President Bush congratulated Foreign Minister Peres that Israel stands forth as a loyal soldier in the war on terror. The two spoke at a luncheon given by the secretary general of the United Nations yesterday.

Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Haim Ramon said yesterday that Israel does not need to establish red lines in a response to an Iraqi missile attack. "If a missile falls in the Negev and causes no damage, then of course we will not have to respond. If a non-conventional missile falls on a populated area and causes heavy losses, of course our response will be otherwise. Therefore I suggest that we not set red lines for ourselves," Ramon said.

The Knesset Audit Committee will hold a special discussion on the home front's preparedness for an Iraqi chemical or biological missile attack, committee chairman MK Ran Cohen has decided.

"I am anxious and worried that at a time when every child is aware of the possibility of a confrontation with Iraq, our defense systems are broadcasting complacency and unpreparedness, and Israel's citizens are exposed to danger," MK Cohen said. He announced that he will invite officers in the Home Front Command, the police and local authorities to the committee discussion, which State Comptroller Judge Eliezer Goldberg will attend. The committee will ask them for an accounting of the condition and availability of protective kits, bomb shelters and sealed rooms, and the state of preparedness of rescue and medical teams.

Ma'ariv checked and found that in the Upper Galilee and the Golan Heights, there are no stations for updating protective kits. Tens of thousands of residents in those areas must travel for at least an hour to reach a distribution station. It also found that there are only four such stations in the entire northern area. The IDF Spokesperson's Office commented: "The Home Front Command is working according to an annual work plan and according to need. The location of distribution stations changes from time to time to respond to the needs of all citizens."

But the Ramat Gan municipality has decided that if the city should fall under missile attack, residents will be evacuated to the Angel Forest near Beit Guvrin. The municipality will arrange for toilets, showers and shade, but not tents, and said that it has not yet received confirmation from the Home Front Command and that no preparations have been made there yet.

This piece ran in Maariv on September 15, 2002

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Evacuating Ramat Gan Residents During the War?
Yossi Yehoshua
Correspondent, Yediot Aharonot

Officials in the Ramat Gan municipality tried yesterday to maintain secrecy regarding the exact site to which the residents of the city would be evacuated in the event of a missile attack on Israel.

However, Yedioth Ahronoth has learned that the area designated by the municipality for its residents is the "Angels Forest" between Kiryat Gat and Beit Guvrin. According to assessments, the site is capable of absorbing at least several thousand residents, who will choose to take the municipality's advice and abandon the city in favor of the hiding place.

The work files prepared by the municipality indicate that the residents are supposed to arrive in their private vehicles, supplied with food, drink and perhaps a small tent, which will serve the families for orderly sleeping arrangements in the park. The municipality has already prepared special access paths at the entrances to the park, and when the signal is given, the residents will be provided with the equipment lacking in order to enable their stay in the site, even for several days.

The decision of Ramat Gan Mayor Zvi Bar, which was published yesterday in Yedioth Ahronoth, aroused many reactions among mayors around the country. Bar, however, still stands behind his decision, saying that it is responsible and moral. "If there is any danger, then no tragedy will occur if women and children leave the city for a few days. Such a step on our part will make things easier for the political echelon and enable the country's leadership to make reasoned decisions. In any case, we will not take action without the authorization of the army and political echelon."

The residents of Ramat Gan received the decision with mixed feelings:

Many of them did not understand how they were supposed to last through the extended stay at the camping site. City resident Moshe Bublil actually appreciated Bar's decision: "In the Gulf War, I went to Jerusalem with my four children. We lived there at hotels for nearly a month, and I had to spend nearly NIS 15,000. This is the most orderly and proper solution for residents who do not have the resources to escape to hotels."

The IDF is reported to dislike the plan of the Ramat Gan municipality, but sources in the Home Front Command said that "the decision whether to leave is the free choice of the residents." IDF sources said that the Home Front Command is not connected to the plans of the Ramat Gan municipality. Officials in the Home Front Command stated that they had orderly plans for population evacuation, intended for cases of suspicion of a chemical or biological attack on a specific area.

This piece ran in Yediot Aharonot on September 13, 2002

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A Train in Poland Where the Passengers Would Not Get Off
Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
Opinion Editor for

My grandfather, of blessed memory, was an underground fighter, a partisan, in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II. One of the main objectives of the partisans was the destruction of eastbound train tracks in order to prevent the transport of German troops to the Russian front and of Jews to their internment and ultimate death in Nazi concentration camps.

On one occasion, my grandfather told me, his unit of partisan fighters blew up a railroad bridge and waited in ambush. When the train eventually approached and was forced to stop in order to avoid plummeting into the canyon depths, the partisans charged aboard and killed all of the Nazi troops who were manning the cars. Afterwards, the partisans opened a passenger car from which they had heard the sound of people talking excitedly and crying. Inside was a group of Jews dressed in their finest clothes and grasping suitcases filled with their possessions -- as if they were on their way to a long vacation. The Jews on board were shocked and apprehensive about the strange-looking people from the woods who had attacked their train and killed all of the Nazi soldiers, initially refusing to believe that their liberators were Jewish themselves.

After some discussion, it became clear that the Jews in the railroad car were from occupied Belgium. The partisans described what awaited them in the Nazi concentration camps, but the Belgian Jews refused to believe their ears. They protested to the wild Jews from the forest that it was utterly impossible that the train was taking them to their deaths. "After all, the Germans told us that this was an evacuation to the East for military purposes," they insisted, with a glance at the dark, foreboding Polish woods, "and who would believe that the cosmopolitan Germans would plan such a thing as you are telling us? In fact, the opposite is the case, we have to try and survive under the terms set by the Germans -- your way is dangerous and only brings down the fury of the Germans on all the Jews." The partisans tried to convince them by cajoling, pleading and crying but nothing helped and so they returned to the sanctuary of the forest before the arrival of Nazi reinforcements.

The Belgian Jews waited patiently for the train to be repaired. Then, they continued on their journey eastward.

That story is one of the saddest, most chilling stories from that most sad and chilling period in history. However, more chilling is our failure to learn from those who have come before us. We still, in the words of Elie Wiesel, trust the promises of our friends more than the threats of our enemies.

While it is undeniably true that today's train, the Arab-Israeli "peace train", has run off the tracks, there are still those obstinate people who insist on remaining on board until the Arabs come to repair the train and carry all of us, for the sake of peace, of course, to our final destination. When Jewish leaders say that they are waiting for new leadership among the Arabs, they are really saying that they are waiting for a new crew to fix the derailed train. They have no intention of leaving the train and confronting the truth of its ultimate destination.

Often, those Jewish leaders mired in the ideology of Oslo appeasement pose what they deem to be a rhetorical question; "what's the alternative?" The Belgian Jews in that Polish forest also grappled with "what's the alternative?" They asked themselves: the woods or the camps? Total defiance or cooperation in an effort to appease our enemies? The answer to those condemned Jews, and to their modern day fellow-travelers now stuck on the "peace train", has to be the same one given by my grandfather and his unit of partisans: the alternative, my brethren, is to take responsibility for yourselves and to live.

This piece ran on on 27 August 2002

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Will Iraq Aim its Missiles at Incoming Flights to Ben Gurion Airport in Israel?
Amos Harel
Senior Military Correspondent,

Israel is concerned that Iraq may attempt to strike civil aviation at Ben-Gurion International Airport as part of its response to a U.S.-led offensive to oust Saddam Hussein.

Western intelligence analysts also say that Iraq has readied a number of its longer-range aircraft for "one-way missions," carrying non-conventional payloads and targeting cities in Israel.

Iraq has recently stepped up its efforts to transfer weapons and funds to the Palestinian Authority and terrorist organizations operating in the territories.

At least one Palestinian organization, the Arab Liberation Front, operates under direct guidance and with full funding from Baghdad.

The fears are that terrorists may attempt to strike at civilian aircraft taking off or landing at Ben-Gurion International using anti-aircraft missiles or, in the absence of such hardware, with anti-armor missiles from closer range.

About a year ago, a cell from the Arab Liberation Front, made up entirely of residents of the West Bank, was arrested a short time before carrying out an attack against Israel's main international airport, on direct orders from Baghdad.

According to western analysts, the Iraqi air force has managed to prepare a number of its Soviet-made Tupolev-16 and Sukhoi-25 aircraft for suicide missions against Israel.

They would be equipped with a "dirty bomb" (radiological weapon) as a possible payload.

This piece ran in HaAretz on September 15, 2002

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