Israel Resource Review 14th December, 2000


$10,000 Per "SHAHID" from Iraq for Each Palestinian Martyr
Rony Shaked
Arab Affairs Correspondent, Yediot Aharonot

Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein has become the darling of the Palestinians: his pictures grace the newspapers along with the those of the shahids -- Intifada casualties -- the Iraqi flag is raised at demonstrations and funerals, Arafat writes him thank you notes and slogans are shouted in his favor at street demonstrations.

This wave of adulation is mainly a result of the monetary aid and moral support he gives the Palestinian Intifada. But it is also the product of an old alliance between Iraq and the Palestinians.

Ten years ago the Palestinians helped the Iraqi arm invade Kuwait. When Saddam sent Scuds at Israel -- they danced on the rooftops.

Now Saddam is repaying the Palestinians. This week, for example, several wounded from Gaza and the West Bank were flown to Amman and from there to Baghdad for medical treatment, at his expense naturally.

Their arrival at the airport was shown on Iraqi and Palestinian television.

The wounded were welcomed by officials and one wounded man who could walk on his own, descended from the plane holding an Iraqi flag.

In addition, Iraq has taken another 20 Palestinian wounded brought by direct flight from Gaza to Baghdad. The flight also carried an official delegation of the Palestinian Legislative Council and a representative of the Chamber of Commerce bringing the Intifada’s blessing to the Iraqi people. The wounded and the delegation were greeted in an official ceremony with many participants, headed by Saddam Hussein’s deputy.

But Saddam bought most of this honor by the money he gives the families of the dad and wounded. A month ago he decided to give the family of every dead man the sum of $10,000 and the family of wounded men $ 1,000 each.

The money is given out in Gaza, Nablus, Hebron or Ramallah by Palestinian who are activists in the Iraqi Baath or activists in the Arab Liberation Front, two tiny pro-Iraqi Palestinian organizations.

Representatives of the Arabic Front said that even families of dead among Israeli Arabs would receive grants from Saddam Hussein.

And as if that were not enough, the Iraqi president announced a week ago in a special meeting with the Palestinian leadership that he would donate $9 million to the Palestinians. The money would be given as part of Iraq’s agreement with Arab states in an arrangement of oil for food.

Iraqi aid is not just monetary. Ten days ago a convoy of 68 trucks with 4,000 tons of medicine and basic food stuffs -- rice, flour, oil, lentils, tea and coffee -- arrived in Amman. Israel deliberated whether to allow it in, but eventually, mainly to stave off claims that Israel was starving the Palestinians, it allowed it in. The Iraqi trucks came to Allenby Bridge and from there the goods were transferred to Palestinian and Jordanian trucks and from there to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

This money has made Saddam a hero in the Palestinian street. The families of the dead who received the grants, publish thank-you notices in the Palestinian press to the Iraqi leader with his picture next to that of the shahid. The picture of the Iraqi leader is now seen throughout the West Bank.

But not only Iraq is participating in the effort to help the Palestinian Intifada. The outburst of feelings in the Arab world on religious grounds has lead to huge anti-Israel demonstrations and a flurry of aid - from donations of clothes and food to money. The Arab states have also decided to take in wounded. Up to now more than 150 wounded have been moved from the West Bank and Gaza Strip for treatment in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Iran.

How much is this costing them?

The Saudi interior minister, Prince Naif Bin Abed el-Aziz, transferred a sum $26 million last week for the families of the dead and wounded. Another Saudi prince, Talal Ibn Walid, transferred a sum of $22 million to the PA for workers unemployed because they can’t enter Israel.

The wave of sympathy for the Palestinian in Saudi Arabia has gotten as far as McDonalds. The Saudi management of the American firm decided to set aside 30 U.S. cents from every hamburger sold there for Intifada.

Representatives of the Dubai Red Crescent Society -- one of the richest principalities in the Gulf -- toured the Palestinian Authority ast week and gave families of the dead envelopes full of dollars.

In Hebron they said that the money was given according to the family’s financial situation.

Generous assistance of a few tens of millions of dollars was given also by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait who paid the salaries of 130,000 PA employees.

Even the Chechen rebels have decided to make a donation. The Chechen leadership organization announced a payment of $1,000 for every "shahid" family. This announcement was accompanied by an apology that due to their difficult financial situation, they could not give more. They also sent a supportive announcement: “The jihad is one and the way to peace does not mean relinquishing land.”

The PA is also busy. It pays each "shahid" family $2,000 for and $1,000 for every wounded. The Popular National Islamic Committee pays $1,000 for each dead and USD300 per wounded.

PA officials have also paid 600 Israeli Shekels to each worker registered in the Palestinian employment bureau as being employed in Israel.

At first the grant was given to 30,000 unemployed. The Palestinian minister of labor, Rafik al-Natshe, promised that day laborers too, who work in Israel without a permit, would soon receive the aid.

Hamas pays according to the family’s financial situation, not through a one-time grant but through monthly allowances.

Families in difficult financial straits are defined as “adopted families” and receive food supplies as well.

Israel is trying to help too. The Balad movement, headed by MK Azmi Bishara, embarked on a fund-raising campaign for the Intifada.

A three-day donation campaign was declared at Hebrew University in Jerusalem to collect donations.

A leaflet distributed at the universities reads: “Every day many of our country-men are killed and wounded in the noble Intifada. The Israeli occupation forces have imposed a closure and strangulation starvation on us. That is why we urge that you donate what you can in clothes and food for our needy country-men and to the families of the fallen.”


This article appeared in Yediot Aharonot on December 13, 2000

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Official PA radio news - the PBC radio Dec. 14th

Summary and Analysis

VOP concentrated on what it has labeled as Israel's assassination policy, but it also highlighted what it says was the heroic repulsion of an Israeli invasion of Khan Yunis.

VOP continued to push denials of current negotiations with Israel, but it is now quoting PA officials who are leaving the door open a bit-saying that there are "no serious talks" but acknowledging that talks could be revived under certain circumstances. One gets the impression that PA resistance to negotiations is lessening.

Bulletin-(as of 9:30 pm Thursday Evening)

VOP has not mentioned any resumption of negotiations with Israel, including meetings with Ben-Ami or Sher-despite israeli reports to the contrary. Also, there has been no report of Israel allowing thousands of Palestinian workers inside Israel-also contrary to Israeli reports.

VOP also escalated the war crimes charges against Israel by focusing on charges that Israel was using American-made radioactive ammunition against Palestinians. PA Environment Minister Dr. Youssef Abu Safia, who made the charges, was first quoted at length in several newspapers and was then the featured morning interview guest. ((No proof of the charges was presented.))

The wild charges against Israel and the intermittent anti-American tone may seem inconsistent with trying to get American support and Israeli concessions, but from VOP broadcasts it appears that the PA is pursuing seemingly different strategies on different fronts: encouraging anti-Israel and anti-settler violence while moving to isolate Israel (and to a certain extent, the United States) diplomatically, claiming little or no interest in talks, while keeping an active interest in talks.

VOP gave prominent coverage throughout the day to Israeli Arab MK Azmi Bishara being interrogated by the Israeli police on charges of having praised the activities of Hizballah.

"I said Hizballah was a heroic resistance group, and I do not take those words back," said Bishara in a morning interview.

Quotes from Interview with Environment Minister Dr. Youssef Abu Safia:

"First of all, from the beginning of the Intifada, Israel has used every kind of shell and bullet against our people, but after the 27th of November there was a report in the global press and in America that Israel had used shells with enriched uranium….

There were also reports that America had used such weapons in the Gulf War in its aggression against Iraq.

Therefore when the brother, the president, Abu Amar (Arafat's nickname) saw the formation of the commission, he thought it appropriate to bring the reports on this subject… to its attention."

Rhetorical Elements

  1. "His excellency president Yasser Arafat relayed to the international investigating commission (the findings of ) Abu Safia that Israel was using shells with enriched uranium to repress the Intifada. (From Al Hayyat al-Jadida newspaper headlines read at 7:50 am on morning news round-up) (Note: Palestinian newspapers have been intermittently accusing Israel of using chemical weapons (so has VOP), radioactive means and biological agents against Palestinians, but this was first reading of such charges involving radioactive materials during prime-time radio broadcast---and put in the mouth of Arafat and other PA officials from the official PA newspaper)

  2. "Israel unleashes vicious dogs to attack farmers and students in Khan Yunis." (headline from al-Ayyam read at 7:52 am)

Thursday Morning Headlines (7:30 am-9:00 am)

  • "Three attempts to invade Khan Yunis repelled, with forty injured, five of them seriously and damage to an Israeli tank;
  • The martyring of four members of security forces and a prominent Hamas member is assassinated in Hebron;
  • Mahmoud Abbas-Abu Mazen-denies the existence of any serious talks with Israel;
  • (Miguel) Moratinos and Hubert Vedrine in Gaza today;
  • The latest developments in the American election: Gore announces concession, Bush is president;
  • Al-Mujaida warns Israel against trying to invade portions of Palestinian National Authority territory."

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