|Israel Resource Review
||27th September, 2004
How Reuters and AP Report
A Dispassionate Analysis
Tom Gross, Journalist
[Note by Tom Gross]
This dispatch contains a series of mostly short notes concerning
the reporting by Reuters, the AP, the Guardian, and others of
attacks on Israelis in recent days.
1. Notes about Reuters "disgracefully misleading" coverage of Wednesday's Jerusalem bus stop bomb.
2. Text of Reuters report on the Jerusalem bus stop bomb.
3. Not mentioned: one of Israeli dead was black and the other a teenager.
4. Suicide bomber was Palestinian TV presenter from wealthy family.
5. Note to AP: The injured were targets, not "bystanders."
6. "Human flesh wafted in the air."
7. "Israelis fear their own terrorists," reads the headline.
8. Afula Suicide Bombing Attack Prevented.
9. Seven Female Suicide Bombers Since Rosh Hashanah.
10. Four more Israelis killed in last 24 hours.
11. Shock in Arab world as Iraqi PM shakes hands with Israeli FM.
12. The Guardian today: A British "occupier" is kidnapped in Iraq and suddenly words like "terror," "slaughter," and "murder" appear all over the Guardian - that is, except in their report today on Palestinian "fighters" shooting Israelis.
Notes about reuters coverage of
Wednesday's Jerusalem bus bomb: "Disgracefully Misleading"
This note comes from a veteran and highly respected journalist in the Middle East and was written on Thursday, September 22, 2004.
"The report yesterday by Reuters on the suicide bombing in Jerusalem is perhaps the most disgraceful misleading reporting I have ever seen.
In the third paragraph, Reuters suggests that the French Hill bus stop - one of Jerusalem's busiest bus stops - is some kind of military target.
Reuters claim that the bomb exploded "as she approached a security position near a hitch-hiking post used mostly by soldiers."
I was there within five minutes of the explosion and interviewed witnesses. The bomber's target was clearly the two busy bus stops at this intersection. There were about 45 people - ordinary civilian passengers - waiting at the bus stops, and about two thirds of them were injured. The bizarrely-described "security position" which Reuters suggest was the target is a flimsy rain/sun shelter for the police who guard the bus stops against attacks precisely like yesterday's. Reuters knows perfectly well that these guards are employed these by the bus company in order to protect passengers against suicide bombers and this is precisely what they did.
The bomber blew herself up prematurely after being approached by the two guards whose alertness reduced the damage to "mere" injuries - and cost them their lives. Almost all the injured were civilians, including a 9-year-old boy who was badly wounded.
When the security officers observed the bomber's suspicious behavior, they asked to see her to show her identity papers, and to open her bag for inspection. The bomber then almost immediately set off the explosives she was wearing on her back.
The bomber was only yards from the crowded bus stops. The blood and bits of flesh were everywhere. For Reuters to suggest or hint that this was a military target is disgraceful.
Tom Gross: Indeed Saeb Erekat admits at the end of this Reuters bulletin that the targets were civilians.
Furthermore, later on Wednesday the Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie also acknowledged that the targets were civilians, when he said: "We condemn the killing of civilians and reiterate that such attacks harm our cause."
And some honest newspapers made clear the target was a bus stop.
- Amarillo Globe-News, in Texas. (Headline: "Jerusalem bus station bombed.")
- The Argus Online, California (Headline: "Female suicide bomber kills two at bus stop.")
Prof. Gerald Steinberg also adds in relation to the Reuters report below:
In paragraph 2, before Reuters has even reported on the terror attack, they offer a highly selective and politicized mini-version of history.
In Paragraph 3, Reuters repeats Palestinian propaganda that turns all Israeli civilians into "military targets".
Reuters Report on Jerusalem Suicide Bomb
Woman Suicide Bomber Kills 2 in Jerusalem
Wed 22 September, 2004 17:24
by Matt Spetalnick
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A Palestinian woman suicide bomber has blew herself up near a hitch-hiking post in Jerusalem, killing two people and wounding 15 in the first such attack in the city in seven months.
The blast on Wednesday tore through the mainly Jewish district of French Hill in East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move not recognised internationally.
Witnesses said a young woman, wearing a headscarf, blew herself up as she approached a security position near a hitch-hiking post used mostly by soldiers.
"She threw her head back and then there was an explosion," one witness, Debbie Segal, told Army Radio. "A few seconds later, her body burst into flames."
The blast -- which sprayed body parts and broken glass over the pavement -- shattered a sense of security that had begun returning to public places in Jerusalem, hardest hit by such attacks during a four-year-old Palestinian uprising.
The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed group in President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility, saying it was avenging Israel's recent killing of several of its members in the West Bank cities of Nablus and Jenin.
After ambulances cleared away the dead and wounded, workers from ultra-Orthodox funeral societies went to work picking up bits of flesh and bone for burial under Jewish law.
"In many cases we prevent heavy disasters. Sometimes things happen like what happened today," said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who learned of the bombing while being interviewed by Israeli television ahead of the Yom Kippur fasting day, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.
"But we intend to continue our struggle against terror with all force," he vowed.
Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat said: "We condemn this attack and any attack that targets civilians, whether Palestinians or Israelis."
Not mentioned: One of Israeli dead was black and the other a teenager
Tom Gross writes:
Mainly as a result of Reuters and AP not reporting this, not a single newspaper internationally that I have seen mentioned that one of the victims of the Jerusalem bus stop bomb was black, an Ethiopian immigrant, aged 20, and the other was a teenager (who also had a job working as a waiter in a banquet hall). This will only add to the misinformed comments made by international diplomats, including Kofi Annan who said last year that the Israeli-Palestinian pitted "whites" (Jews) against "brown people" (Palestinians).
Suicide Bomber Was Palestinian TV Presenter From Wealthy Family
The Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot reports that the wealthy family of Wednesday's suicide bomber, Zainab Ali Issa Abu Salem, own a local Palestinian television station. And the bomber herself had spent the last three months - her break between high school and university studies - fulfilling the dream of many teenagers, becoming a television star. A presenter on a children's show broadcast by her parents' TV station.
David Frankfurter, a political commentator and a subscriber to this list, adds:
"How she was recruited, what pressures were brought to bear, what indoctrination she received in school - at this stage are all matters of speculation. Could it be that she simply internalized the messages in video clips encouraging children to terror on Palestinian TV? Sadly, whatever led her to the deed, Palestinian children have been given yet another role model to be hero worshipped and emulated. Something that will no doubt be reinforced in every re-run of their favorite TV show."
Note to AP: The injured were targets, not 'bystanders'
Michael Weinstein, a media commentator and a subscriber to this list, writes:
"In their reports on the suicide bomb, the Associated Press described the wounded as "bystanders" when they were undeniably the intended target of the terrorist."
"Human Flesh Wafted in the Air"
The Jerusalem Post adds:
The 3:40 p.m. blast completely gutted the hitchhiking station, sending chunks of human flesh flying into the city's main northern thoroughfare, and spraying shards of glass onto the busy road.
"I saw the terrorist coming, I knew she was a terrorist straight away, you could see the tension in her face," recalled eyewitness Avigail Hilini. "She was totally covered in a large brown shawl, except for her face and eyes. I saw that the Border Policeman checked her, and then she exploded. Seconds later I saw people running everywhere and I ran myself. I started shaking and crying."
As the smell of burnt rubber and human flesh wafted in the air, paramedics and rescue officials rushed the injured to hospital, the more serious raced on stretchers inside wailing ambulances. Police and rescue workers, some covered in plastic white chemical jumpsuits, scoured the ground for pieces of the bomb and human remains.
The two guards killed in the blast were identified as Mamoya Tahio, 20 from Rehovot and Menache Komeni, 19, of Moshav Aminadav on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Counterterrorism experts have speculated that Palestinian terror groups are increasingly using women for their attacks because they raise less suspicion among Israeli security officials.
Israelis Fear Their Own Terrorists, reads the headline
Tom Gross writes:
Many newspapers around the world barely reported on the suicide bombing. Instead, in their editions on the morning after the bombing (September 23, 2004) they carried a different kind of headline: "Israelis fear their own terrorists." (This was a piece syndicated from the New York Daily News that appeared in papers all over the US yesterday.)
For example, here is the heading of an article in a newspaper in South Carolina:
Posted on Thursday, September 23, 2004
Israelis fear their own terrorists
[Some other papers changed the word "terrorist" to "militant" in their headlines on this same piece.]
Afula Suicide Bombing Attack Prevented
Yesterday, 23 September 2004, a bomb weighing over seven kilograms (15.5 lbs) intended for a suicide attack in Afula was located in the Galilee by the Israeli intelligence services. The would-be bomber was a member of the Fatah Tanzim in the Jenin area.
Seven Female Suicide Bombers Since Rosh haShanah
According to Israeli intelligence, seven female suicide bombers left the Nablus area after Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) began 8 days ago. So far, two have been apprehended, two turned themselves in earlier in the week (as reported in the Israeli but not in international press), but one managed to blow herself up in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
Four More Israelis Killed in Last 24 Hours as Israel's Holiest Day,
Yom Kippur, Approaches
This morning an Israeli woman (24-year-old Tifferet Tratner) was murdered in the living room of her home by a mortar fired into her house by Hamas. She was in the midst of preparing for Yom Kippur (the day of atonement).
Yesterday, 23 September 2004, three Israeli guards were shot dead as they protected civilians at the Morag settlement. Yasser Arafat's Fatah organization and the Islamic Jihad jointly claimed responsibility in a leaflet delivered to news agencies.
Those Israelis shot dead were Tal Bardugo, 22, from Jerusalem; Nir Sami, 21, from Jerusalem; Yisrael Lutati, 20, from N'vei Dekalim.
Shock As Iraqi PM Shakes Hands with Israeli FM
Arab newspapers have slammed Iraqi PM Allawi for shaking hands
with Israeli foreign minister Silvan Shalom at the UN general
assembly in New York.
The Guardian Today: A Briton is Kidnapped and
suddenly words like "Terror," "Slaughter," "Murder"
appear all over the paper - that is, except in their two stories on
A Briton is kidnapped in Iraq, and the Guardian (International edition) today (September 24, 2004) suddenly uses harsh language.
Says the Guardian:
- The group holding a British hostage in Iraq is a "terrorist group" (page 1, page 4, page 5). Other hostages have already been "murdered," they say.
- Italian hostages in Iraq may have been "slaughtered" (page 6).
- "Fanatics cannot be appeased," reads the headline on page 18.
Yet: In a footnote tagged onto (yet another Guardian) "news report" comparing Israel with "apartheid South Africa" (page 10, today), the Palestinians who shot dead three Israelis yesterday are called "fighters".
And a chunk of an editorial today - written by one of their Baghdad reporters Jonathan Steele about the Iraq hostage crisis (page 16, titled "Humiliated and impotent, every Iraqi is a hostage now") - is turned into another highly inaccurate Israel-bashing exercise by The Guardian.
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Her Death Made a Difference
Rachel Saperstein, Neve Dekalim
Tifferet Tratner, age 24, was the first resident of Gush Katif to be killed directly by a mortar shell.
In four years of endless bombardment Gush Katif had experienced the realm of the supra-rational, the realm of endless miracles by the Almighty. Mortars launched by Arab terrorists in Khan Yunis into the Gush Katif settlements exploded everywhere. They caused damage and injuries, but no deaths. The day before Yom Kippur 2004 this extraordinary statistic changed.
A mortar smashed into Tifferet Tratner's home collapsing the roof onto her. She was home only because she had found an abandoned puppy and was caring for it. Unconscious, she was flown to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba where she died.
Her death brought shock waves through a community that has been blasted by Arabs and designated for destruction by the Israeli government.
Who was Tifferet Tratner? It seemed that very few knew her. She was shy, barely speaking to passersby even when walking her dog. Her parents had come on aliya from the United States and settled in Jerusalem. Tifferet was their sabra daughter.
After high school she did her year of national service in the isolated settlement of Netzarim, where she had an uncle. Her grandfather was killed by terrorists while visiting Netzarim. One of her sisters lives in the Gush Katif settlement of Atzmona.
Tifferet then did a second year at the Katifari, the Neve Dekalim Zoo. Her 'adoptive parents', Eli and Pazit Moses, said that "she was modest and had a quiet sense of humor. One had to make an effort to know her, but it was worth it."
On the morning before the holy day of Yom Kippur, as people rushed to do last minute shopping, as housewives prepared the pre-Fast meal, as children played in parks near their homes, the sound of exploding mortars broke the still morning air. Tifferet's house was hit. She was found by a neighbor and a security guard. Less than two hours later she was laid to rest in Jerusalem. Because of the hurried burial her friends and neighbors, still in shock, could not attend the funeral. She died alone, and was carried to her grave by her immediate family and by the reverend people of Jerusalem people who did not know her.
The Yom Kippur holiday intervened. Shiva, the seven days of mourning, was cancelled. No one was able to sit shiva for Tifferet.
But her name, her picture, her life and her death were endlessly recounted in the Israeli and international media. Her death made a difference. Instead of the usual ineffectual response to attacks the IDF entered Khan Yunis and did a massive cleaning of the area near the wall. And last night we slept without a mortar attack.
Tifferet, I didn't know you while you lived, and I'm sorry it took your death to make a difference. You were aptly named: Tifferet means splendor. As Eli Moses said, "Tifferet was our first sacrifice. May she be our last sacrifice."
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Tiferet Did Not Have a Chance
Correspondent, Yedioth Ahronoth
Less than twenty-fours after the funeral of Sgt. Yisrael Lutati
of Neveh Dekalim, who was killed at an IDF outpost near Morag,
another blow fell upon the community: a mortar shell struck the
home of Tifferet Tratner, 24, killing her.
Last Friday at approximately 10:00 a.m., the shell struck the tile roof
of Tifferet's home, causing it to collapse. At the same time Tifferet was
sitting on the sofa in her living room underneath the place where the
ceiling collapsed. Neighbors arrived quickly and at first thought that
no one was inside, but discovered Tifferet after clearing some of the
debris. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Tifferet, originally from Jerusalem, lost her mother to cancer when
she was fourteen. She did her national service at a seminary in
Netzarim and at the petting zoo in Neveh Dekalim, fell in love with the place and the people and decided to remain. Tratner's brother-in-law, Hanan Wiesner, lost his father in a terror attack in Netzarim. It was Hanan
who identified her body two days ago.
Tifferet lived in a rented apartment belonging to Dudi Malka, who said
that since the beginning of the Intifada four mortar shells have landed
in front of his house. "They all fell near the house, a few meters
away. Now it's a direct hit."
Tifferet worked in Neve Dekalim at a rehabilitation center for elderly
people and was known in the community as a dog groomer. "Although the
mortar shells fell near her fairly often and bullets whistled near her
home, she loved the place," said Eli Mozes, a neighbor who adopted her
together with his family. "People pay a price for living here, a price
too great to bear. She was very angry that people were growing up here
and living here, and suddenly along comes the prime minister and wants
to give terrorism a present."
Tifferet was buried a short time before the beginning of Yom Kippur in
a restrained funeral that took place at Har Hamenuhot in Jerusalem.
Because time was short, no eulogies were given. She is survived by her
father, four sisters and a brother.
Until today 4,562 mortar shells have been fired at Gush Katif, three
of which caused fatalities. The first was Sgt-Maj. Barak Madmon, who
was killed by shrapnel at Kfar Darom approximately three years ago. Last
week attacks on the bloc escalated, and on Friday seven mortar shells
were fired at its settlements. Last night two more Kassam rockets were
fired, with no casualties.
Gush Katif is having difficulty containing its anger. "Sharon keeps
inciting for the murder of Gush Katif residents by winking at the
terrorists, since the terrorists will accomplish whatever the
compensation payments do not," said bloc spokesman Eran Sternberg. "We
wouldn't be surprised if the next mortar shells have 'From Sharon with
love' written on them."
In response to the attack on the outpost at Morag and the continued
rocket fire, IDF troops, with support from tanks and bulldozers,
entered the western neighborhood of Khan Yunis last Friday night. The residents were called upon by loudspeaker to leave their homes, and the
bulldozers destroyed thirty-five homes.
In the morning the residents returned to their homes and began
searching for personal effects among the ruins. According to data from
UNRWA, forty-seven homes were demolished. Two hundred forty-six people
were rendered homeless. According to the IDF, Neveh Dekalim had been
fired upon from these homes.
IDF troops remained in controlling positions in Khan Yunis. "We will
take the gloves off," IDF officials said. " We will operate with more
force and fewer limitations on its use. In every place where there is
mortar or Kassam rocket fire we will go deep into the territory in an
aggressive manner, including demolishing homes. The more violent the
Palestinian struggle becomes, the more the IDF will lower restrictions
on the use of force."
This article ran in Yediot Aharonot
on September 26th, 2004
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Is the Temple Mount in Danger?
to this piece and other news items which contain a clear warning
that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is in jeopardy, Adnan
Husseini, the Moslem offcial in charge of the Islamic authority,
the Wakf, was intreviewed on the Voice of Israel Radio program
and declared that the Wakf would not allow any safety
inspections whatsover on the Temple Mount, since Husseini
declared that any news reportage on this issue would represent
"Zionist propaganda", in his words.]
The Moslem month of Ramadan is scheduled to begin in another three weeks, and hundreds of thousands of Moslems will throng to the Temple Mount, as [they do] every year, to attend the special prayers that are held there. But this time, Israeli officials fear, it could end in a terrible catastrophe, on an unthinkable scale: in recent security establishment situation assessments officials spoke about their fear that the compound known as Solomon's Stables would collapse on the tens of thousands of worshipers attending prayers there. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has already
instructed security officials to take every measure possible to prevent
that scenario from playing out.
Solomon's Stables is a vast subterranean space in the eastern part of
the Temple Mount. The Wakf turned the area into a mosque eight years
ago, and concentrated worshipers on two main levels: the ground floor
and the roof. The combination of the unmonitored excavation work that
was carried out beneath the compound, the laying of very heavy floor
tiles on its upper level, the earthquakes that have affected Israel in
the most recent years and the accelerated pace of wear and tear have
turned that sensitive compound into a very precarious structure. The
stories and walls have all moved, and the supporting walls are
beginning to show cracks.
Notwithstanding the fact that in the past year Jews have been
permitted to visit the Temple Mount once again, and troops from the
Jerusalem District Police's holy places unit maintain a permanent
presence in the Temple Mount compound, Israeli engineers have been
barred to date from entering Solomon's Stables to assess the danger.
However, an analysis report compiled by Antiquities Authority
engineers, on the basis of the findings of an Egyptian delegation of engineers who examined the site, established unequivocally that there was real danger of the immediate collapse of Solomon's Stables on top of worshipers filling the lower and upper levels of the mosque. The engineers were particularly concerned by the weakness of the three arches that support the ceiling in the eastern part of the compound. Moreover, the brief amount of time until Ramadan prayer services are scheduled to begin, on October 14, does not leave enough time to add supports to the
In light of the engineers' report, the security establishment constructed a scenario - that has fairly high chances of playing out - in which the ceiling collapses on top of thousands of worshipers during Ramadan prayers, killing hundreds if not thousands of Moslem worshipers.
On regular days during Ramadan, more than 50,000 people enter the
mosques in Solomon's Stables to worship, but the security establishment
is afraid of what will happen on the first Friday on Ramadan and the
special Leilat el-Kader prayer service (marking the day the Koran was
given to Mohammed and the fate of the faithful is decided), during
which close to a quarter of a million Moslems throng to the Temple Mount.
If it happens to be rainy on the day those prayers are held, the chances
of the structure collapsing will increase by hundreds of percent, since
the demand for an enclosed place of worship will increase, and the pressure
on the lower level's ceiling will increase as a result of the extra
people and [the weight of] the rainwater.
Israeli officials have already appealed many times to the Wakf in
Jerusalem and in Jordan, and have warned of the terrible catastrophe
that might ensue. The Israeli warnings notwithstanding, Wakf officials
have refused to restrict the number of worshipers in Solomon's Stables
during Ramadan. Palestinian sources said the Israeli warnings were
geared to keep Moslem worshipers away from the Temple Mount during the
holy month of Ramadan.
As a last resort, the former commander of the Jerusalem District
Police, Cmdr. Ilan Franko, and Lt. Cmdr. Nisso Shaham, the commander of
the David district, which has the Temple Mount compound in its
jurisdiction, left last week for Jordan, where they continued with the
persuasion efforts. They met with Wakf officials and members of the
royal court, entreating them to order the restriction of the number of
worshipers who will be permitted into the Solomon's Stables compound
during Ramadan and, in tandem, to begin work in the mosque to save the
structure. As far as could be ascertained, these efforts did not
produce any results.
Israeli officials have still not decided what course of action to
take if the talks with the Jordanians fail. The dilemma, admit Israeli
security officials, is not simple at all: on the one hand, forcibly
barring worshipers from entering the compound could set off bloody
riots and anger the entire Moslem world. On the other hand, if the structure collapses, heaven forbid, it could very well be perceived as an Israeli plot-despite and perhaps even because of all the Israeli warnings.
This article ran in Maariv on September 26th, 2004
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Stables compound,which is situated in the eastern part of the
Temple Mount, was built during Herod's time. It is 20 meters
high, and was constructed of large stones, creating large areas
that were used, apparently, to store either goods or animals.
The arches and walls that currently support the structure were
built only later. Some researchers believe they were added
during the Umayyad Dynasty period (between the seventh and
eighth century), while others are convinced they were built only
during the Crusader period (the 12th and 13th centuries), when
the area served as stables for the Knights Templar.
Dr. Eilat Mazar, from the Committee for the Prevention of the
Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount, told Ma'ariv about the
process in which Solomon's Stables evolved from an archeological site
into the largest mosque in Israel. Mazar: "In 1996 the Wakf exploited a
permit that it was given by the Israeli government to clean the site,
and turned the cavern of Solomon's Stables, which is five and a half
dunams in size, into a giant mosque. But they didn't suffice with that:
three years later, they received authorization from the prime minister
at the time, Ehud Barak, to open 'a small emergency opening' in the
structure. But in accelerated work that lasted three days and three
nights, that 'small opening' turned into a 2,000 square meter square
pit that was more than 12 meters deep. The Wakf removed from the site
12,000 cubic meters of dirt that included, in our judgment, many rare
archeological artifacts that simply were tossed in the garbage."
The Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Antiquities on
the Temple Mount members believe that opening Solomon's Stables
destabilized the entire structure, both on the southern wall of the
Temple Mount where the "bulge" emerged from the wall (and which
threatens to cause its ultimate collapse) and in Solomon's Stables. "We
know from testimony of people who visited Solomon's Stables that the
arches and supports there are cracked and that they are in a very bad
state engineering-wise-so bad that they are liable to collapse very
soon," said Dr. Mazar.
This article ran in Maariv on September 26th, 2004
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Offical PA website:
If Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound
Collapses Israel is at Fault
Palestine Media Center - PMC [Official PA website]
Shortly after official Israeli warnings that Jewish terrorists are
threatening to blow up Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Israel is again threatening
to restrict access to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during the upcoming holy month of Ramadan by disseminating baseless rumors that the eastern and southern walls of Islam's third holiest site could collapse on top of thousands of Muslim worshippers.
The Palestine National Authority (PNA) demanded Sunday that the Jerusalem
Committee of the Organization of the Islamic conference (OIC) convene to
confront the new Israeli threats.
Israel warned on Sunday that an eastern part of a religious site could
collapse on top of thousands of Muslims during the upcoming Islamic holy
month of Ramadan and said it might limit the number of Muslim worshippers.
Palestinians called the warning political, and a Jordanian expert said there was no danger.
The site is part of the Haram as-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary.
"We demand that Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Committee representing 16 Arab and
Muslim nations convene to confront the Israeli threats, in particular those
threats against the holy places in Jerusalem," President Yaser Arafat's
media adviser Nabil Abu Rudainah told the Ramallah-based daily Al-Ayyam.
He warned that, "the dangerous Israeli measures would lead to endless
disasters in the region."
The Palestinian Islamic Waqf on Sunday denied the Israeli allegations, and
condemned them as regular and annual rumors aimed at restricting the access
of Muslim worshippers to the compound ahead of the holy month of Ramadan,
expected to start mid-October.
Confirming that the site will be opened to worshippers as usual during
upcoming Ramadan, director of the Islamic Waqf Adnan Al-Husseini told
Al-Ayyam: "Absolutely there is no credibility in the Israeli rumors . they
are similar to the rumors disseminated by the Israeli authorities ahead of
Ramadan last year."
Jordan Also Denies Israeli Allegations
Al-Husseini also denied any Jordanian involvement in the Israeli "warnings."
"We are part of the Jordanian Ministry of Awqaf, and what we say expresses
their view as well," Al-Husseini said.
"It seems to me that it is a policy to make people afraid before Ramadan,"
Jerusalem's Israeli Police Chief Ilan Franco led an Israeli delegation last
week to Jordan, the country in charge of the Waqf (Islamic trust), and asked officials to either put up partitions to prevent worshippers from entering the eastern sector of the compound, or support beams to prevent the wall's collapse.
Raef Nijem, the vice president of the Jordanian Construction Committee, a
state body, said he commissioned a Cairo-based engineering team, headed by
Saleh Lam'ie, to carry out a thorough investigation of the eastern wall
earlier this year.
"The team came out with a positive result, and confirmed there was no danger of collapse," Nijem told The Associated Press.
Israeli Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra said the eastern wall of the
mosque compound was in serious danger of collapse after a moderate
earthquake last February worsened existing damage to the ancient structure.
Archaeologists at the Israel Antiquities Authorities fear that if tens of
thousands of Muslim worshippers enter the site during Ramadan, it could lead to a collapse, Ezra claimed.
"The state of Israel cannot take any risk," Ezra told Israel Radio. "If
there is no support on the eastern wall, we will have no choice but to
decrease the number of worshippers on the Temple Mount in the month of
Ramadan, when there are more worshippers than usual," he added.
Palestinian Waqf officials in Jerusalem, including an engineer who works at
the ancient site, brushed off the Israeli warnings as "political."
"It is not only that we are not fearing it, but we are dealing with it,"
said Issam Awad, a Waqf engineer. "We have already restored the southern
part of the wall and we are now in the process of restoring the eastern
Last year, Israel warned the southern portion of the compound could
Shimon Gibson, a British archaeologist who is an expert on chambers under
the shrine, including Al-Marwani Mosque (Known to foreigners as Solomon's
Stables) said it was unclear if there was any danger.
"I find that all sides tend to heat things up unnecessarily and they don't
deal directly with the problem at hand," Gibson told AP.
Israeli Excavations the Real Danger
Islamic officials said the Israelis were trying to destabilize the complex
by carrying out archaeological excavations in an area outside and under the
"The Islamic Waqf does not have detailed information on the excavations,
because the Israeli occupation authorities have barred access to Waqf
engineers. We can, however, say for sure that exposing the foundations of
the Aqsa Mosque by digging up the ground around it will place the Aqsa in
grave danger," the Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine Sheikh Ikrama Sabri
wrote @bitterlemons-international.org on September 2.
"In other words, the Aqsa mosque is constantly threatened one way or
another. But the extremists' threats are of concern because they may provide a pretext for international forces to intervene for the sake of
internationalizing Jerusalem and "protecting" its holy sites," he indicated.
In June 2004, then Israeli Public Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi announced that extremist Jewish groups were planning to destroy the Aqsa mosque either with an unmanned plane filled with explosives or a plane flown by a suicide bomber. The Higher Islamic Commission and other Islamic bodies immediately issued a condemnation and warned that they would hold the Israeli government responsible if any harm should befall the mosque, Sabri said.
Since the Israeli occupation in 1967, the Islamic Waqf has been constantly
wary of Israeli attempts by extremists to harm Al-Aqsa. Most infamous was
the fire set to the Aqsa Mosque on August 21, 1969 at the hands of one
Michael Dennis Rohan, said to be an Australian national.
Israeli excavations in the area began in the 1970s and took the form of
tunnels focused on the area adjacent to the outer western wall of the
compound. The digging eventually led to several cracks appearing in a number of ancient buildings belonging to the Islamic Waqf along the western wall in the area of the Chains, Iron and Qataneen Gates, which date back to the Ayyoubid, Mamluk and Ottoman eras respectively.
Israeli Palestinians On Alert
On Friday September 10 over 70,000 Israeli Arab Palestinians attended an
annual Islamic Movement festival in Umm al-Fahm under the banner "Al-Aqsa is in danger."
The movement's leader, Sheikh Raed Salah, did not take part in the festival, as he is standing trial on allegedly "security offenses" along with several other movement officials.
The mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine attended the rally, as well as the
spokesman of the Orthodox church in Jerusalem Archbishop Attallah Hanna and
Druze representatives from the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights.
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Rubbing Elbows with Arafat
Sharon's Top Advisor Represents "Business Interests" of the Palestinian Authority
One of the Biggest Questions of the New Year Focuses Around the Question:
What Would Motivate Ariel Sharon to Conduct His Current Policy
with the Palestinian Authority?
The Answer: Business Interests.
The man who has been the most visible diplomat representing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in negotiations with the Palestinians and with the U.S. government has been a lawyer by the name of Dov Weissglass - the man who created and engineered Sharon's withdrawal plan, and the man whom Sharon has delegated to negotiate for Israel with U.S. National Security Advisor Condeleeza Rice and with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Weissglass's power in the government of Israel with Ariel Sharon at the helm has eclipsed the influence of the highest officials of the Israel Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense. Yet Weissglass has another identity.
Back in December 2002, Israel Resource News Agency uncovered the fact that Weissglass, then the office manager of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, was still in private business, listed in the Israel Corporate Registrar as the owner and operator of his law firm, Weissglass-Almagor and a business trust by a similar name
That finding was publicized in the weekly Israeli newspaper, Makor Rishon.
Why is that so important?
Well, it would be one thing if Weissglass's firm represented Zogloveck, Israel's kosher sausage firm.
However, Weissglass's law firm and business trusts represent the financial interests of the Palestinian Authority, including Muhammad Rashid, the treasurer appointed by Yassir Arafat to manage Arafat's illusive accounts which amount to several billion dollars.
Two Israeli journalists, Amos Harel and Avi Issacharov, have just published a book titled
The Seventh War, in which they report that Weissglass actually celebrated the electoral victory
of Ariel Sharon in the company of Muhammad Rashid on election night in February, 2001.
In June, 2003 Israel Resource News Agency uncovered the fact that Weissglass's law firm and business also represent the Palestinian casino firms, which are in part owned by PLO security chief Jibrl Rahoub, and by Yassir Arafat himself.
Why is that important, in light of the demise of the former Palestinian casino in Jericho, that was closed down when the Palestinian Intifada began in October, 2000?
According to the Palestinian tourist publication This Week in Palestine, plans are under
way to build a new Palestinian casino and resort for tourists in "Southern Gaza", in place of the Jewish
communities of Gush Katif that now reside there.
And who stands to profit? None other than Dov Weissglass, the architect of the Sharon plan to withdraw those very Jewish communities from Gush Katif.
The logical question to ask would be: Where is the law enforcement system in Israel that would act against any such conflict of interest and possible breach of security?
In January 2003, after it was revealed that the Prime Minister's office manager, Weissglass, still maintained his law firm and business outside his government job, the Israel Civil Service Commission looked into it and affirmed that Weissglass was indeed still registered in the Israel Corporate Register as part of that law firm. But they dismissed its importance, after Weissglass wrote to the commission that he had divested himself from his law firm and that he had sold all financial interests in his business. To support that claim, The Israel Corporate Authority in April 2003 reported that Weissglass finally removed his name from his law firm in the Israel Corporate Authority records and provided us with a document from the Israel Corporate Authority to prove it.
However, in April 2004, our agency uncovered what the Israel Civil Service Commission did not know, which was that Weissglass's name was still registered as the lawyer of record for two other firms which bore virtually the same company name, while also located at the same corporate address.
In May, 2004, the Israel Civil Service Commission declared that this represented a conflict of interest for Weissglass.
So in July, 2004 Weissglass quietly resigned his position as the Prime Minister's office manager, but received permission from the Israel Civil Service Commission to assume a new position as the all-powerful official "advisor" to PM Ariel Sharon.
In other words, although the highest echelons of the Israeli government are cognizant of the fact that Weissglass represents the business interests of Yassir Arafat, Weissglass was still allowed to continue to conduct negotiations on behalf of the state of Israel with all official levels of the Palestinian Authority and the United States government, even though Weissglass continues to represents the business interests of the Palestinian Authority.
You might call this a legalized conflict of interest, Middle East style.
This article ran in
on September 27th, 2004
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