|Israel Resource Review
||22nd December, 2000
Official Palestinian Authority Radio: The Voice of Palestine - Dec. 21/22
Summary and Analysis
There is a subtle but definite change in VOP coverage of the American-
Palestinian-Israeli talks in Bolling Base in Washington. Although the
reporting is very low-key, and although the PA repudiates reports of
American initiatives (as did Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Musa in a VOP
report Thursday), it is acknowledging that talks have begun to deal with
"the heart of the issues." In addition, Yasser Arafat's spokesman, Nabil
Abu-Rudeina said all issues were being discussed including "finding a just
settlement for the refugees."
The inclusion of the phrase "finding a just settlement for the refugees"
since Wednesday night Dec. 20 and through the broadcasts this Friday Dec. 22 (rather than one of the standard phrases like "the right of return" or "the return of the refugees to their homes" may indicate one or more of several possibilities:
- that the Palestinian and Israeli sides really are getting to a refugee
- that the Palestinian side is pleased with progress on the refugee
issue, but is not yet ready sign, unless it gets domestic and inter-Arab
- or that the Palestinian Authority is tentatively sending up some kind
of pale trial balloon or perhaps preparing its constituency for something
less than a total and immediate return of refugees.
VOP featured Yasser Arafat in a stake-out interview Thursday returning
from Cairo (Wednesday), in which he said Israel was deliberately escalating violence in order to sabotage the peace process and to torpedo the efforts of Bill Clinton.
VOP also featured at length the comments of Egyptian Foreign Minister
Amr Musa who said "the flare-up of the intifada was the result of an
accumulation of probems on the path to peace.that had not been overtaken,
especially two important causes: the failed summit in Geneva between
President Bill Clinton and the Syrian president Hafez al-Assad and the
second the Camp David Summit." (Note: This is an important commentary on
the internal Arab dialectical thinking which goes contrary to the cutting
edge of conventional wisdom, i.e. that Ariel Sharon provoked the Intifada
with Sharon's visit on September 28.)
VOP has been featuring news items and features discussing "acts of
solidarity" by both Iraq and Iran with the Palestinian people, but it has
pulled back from publishing stark Iraqi (and other) commentaries that have
referred to American Secretary of State-designate Colin Powell as a war
criminal along with the Gulf War as an act of aggression against Iraq.
VOP carried a long interview with hard-line PLO "Foreign Minister"
Farouk Qaddoumi discussing an Iraqi fund of about one billion dollars
to aid Palestinians.
The news programs opened Thursday and Friday again with the martyrs,
their funerals and the circumstances of their deaths and other injuries,
giving only modest mention to the death of a "Jewish settler" killed on the
main northern route from Jerusalem via Modiin to Tel Aviv.
Thursday Morning Headlines Dec 21:
- "Three martyrs in a wicked massacre in Gaza, with tens wounded, four
- His excellency President Yasser Arafat says on his return from Cairo
that Tel Aviv wants to destroy the peace process.;
- Clinton holds a joint session for Erikat and Ben-Ami in the White
- Meretz votes down the candidacy of Shimon Peres for Prime Minister;
- The United Nations recognizes the Palestinian right to sovereignty;
- Moshe Katsav says Barak does not have madate for peace agreement;
- The Legislature meets today to pass laws to aid workers hurt by
- Dr. Azmi Bashara will be with us to discuss the various options in
the Israeli election."
Quote of the Day
"Israel by its actions is trying to sabotage the peace process." (Yasser
Arafat, returning from Cairo Wednesday Dec. 20, quoted Wednesday evening and Thursday throughout the day)
Quotes from Interview with Ahmad Abdul-Rahman, PA Cabinet Secretary
"We will not accept any partial solutions--not on land, and not on
international legitimacy, and not in the matter of the refugees and notin
the matter of the Holy Jerusalem Shrine..There are many sides and many
aspects to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, but the conflict on the ground
is bloody because there is daily Israeli crime designed to shatter our
steadfast desire, the desire of the Palestinian people. But we are
steadfast. Our people is steadfast now for three months despite all the
sacrifices it has made. And the other front is the negotiations. But in the
Arab and international context there is a context to achieve an agreement to prevent a complete explosion which could involve other regions and other
Q: "There is talk that President Clinton will present a paper to the
A: "We have heard a lot about American ideas but we haven't received an
official American paper-not one from the American side."
Interview with Dr. Amin Hadad, deputy director PA Central Bank, on the
occasion of the closing of only Israeli bank operating in the Palestinian
Authority under the terms of the Paris Accords signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (Thursday, Dec. 21, 7:50 am)
Q: "What did practices this bank carry out that you want to close it down
A: "Really, the most important violation is the refusal to accept
Palestinian policy, with the Palestinian National Authority, working with
the Palestinian National Authority and the liberated Palestinian lands, and (on the other hand) with identifying completely with the Zionist Entity
(al-Kiyan al-Sihyouni)." (Note: the term the "Zionist entity" (al-kawn
al-sihyouni or al kiyan al-sihyouni has rarely been used by PA officials in
public since the Oslo Accords, especially not in broadcasts)
Song of the Day: "He is the Leader"
Here he is-he is the leader
Both Inside (in Palestine) and Out (the Diaspora)
His face is like the sun and the moon
And his name is Abu Amar
God grant him long life
God grant him long life
(Note: This song used to be a staple of PA radio and especially tv before
the most recent Intifada/war, but has not been heard much recently on radio. A listener called in on a caller phone-in show, asking for it to be played. Friday, Dec 22, 10:30 AM)
Friday Morning Headlines-Dec 22: (8am, 9am, 10am)
- "Three exalted martyrs to be brought to burial today:
the citizen Ahmad Jamial Awad, 41 years old, from Khirbat Jebara, south of
Tulkarm, martyred during anartilery shelling of a populated neighborhood,
the youth Ahd Imri, 18 years old, from Shujaiyya Camp in Gaza, martyred when occupation bullets struck his head, and the third martyr is Rashid
Barghoum, 25 years old from Rafah;
- Heavy Israeli artillery attacks on Bitunia, Khan Yunis, Ramllah,
Al-Bireh and Jenin.;
- Since last night heavy Israeli patrols around Jerusalem's entry
points and inside Jerusalem in order to prevent worshipers from reaching Al
Aqsa for last Friday prayers of Ramadan;
- Heavy Israeli searches around vilage of Bir N idam near Ramallah
where settlers' car were fired on;
- An Israeli settler was killed near the settlement of Givat Ze'ev, and
Israeli radio says he died when his car was hit by gunfire;
- His excellency President Yasser Arafat will meet today in his Gaza
headquarters with the German Defense Minister Robert Sharbing and will
discuss the continuing Israeli aggression against our people despite
continuing international and Arab efforts to continue the peace process;
- President Arafat's spokesman Nabil Abu-Irdeina said there were
precise American initiatives in the talks at Bolling Base between the
Palestinian side and the American side and between the Israeli side and
Quote of the Day-Friday-Dec 22
"When the Zionist, this dog
Entered Al-Aqsa with his shoes
Protected by a squad of troops of war.
Muhammad will bring you low
Oh soldiers and oh dogs.
Oh you Zionist you are the West.
We will ask Allah to remove you dogs of the Whisperer (i.e. Satan)
(From "Mishwar al-Sabah", popular call-in show, part of poem-Ode to the
Intifada-- read by listener Muhammad Fawah Hijawi of Qalqilya to the
delight of radio announcer, 10:50 am, shortly before Friday's Mosque
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A Bigger Battle may be Brewing,Israel Fears: The Palestinians are Amassing an Arsenal
Middle East Correspondent, Philadelphia Inquirer
Bank - The
ran a finger
the cold metal of
the assault rifle,
the seal of the
Israeli army. He
squinted at the
learned in prison,
and read, "Made
"I bought it
the fighter, Majid
el Masri, part of a
with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat's Fatah political
party. "I paid $6,000. I used to have an M-16,
American made. That was better for targeting, but
this is not bad."
In fact, the gun, made by Israel Military Industries,
manufacturer of the Uzi, is the standard weapon
distributed to the rank-and-file soldiers of the Israeli
army. Exactly how it found its way to Nablus, where
Masri intends to use it against Jewish settlers and
Israeli soldiers, is the source of increasing concern to
Israelis as the Palestinian uprising veers into guerrilla
Thousands of weapons, illegal under the terms of the
1993 peace accords - rifles, machine guns, land
mines, grenades, mortar shells, antiaircraft and
antitank guns and possibly artillery - have been
smuggled into the West Bank and Gaza and are
providing dangerous fuel for the current wave of
The Palestinians are not bashful about their guns,
parading them proudly at demonstrations, funerals
and even weddings. Even Arafat appeared last week
in public carrying a submachine gun, an odd
accessory for a political leader always surrounded
All these guns have made the current intifadah much
deadlier than the six-year uprising that ended in
1993, in which the weapon of choice was the rock.
And Israeli intelligence officials say the new arsenal
could be a stockpile for a bigger battle in the future.
The Israeli fear is that the Palestinians will amass
enough of an arsenal to develop a homegrown
version of Hezbollah, the anti-Israeli guerrilla
movement based in Lebanon and nurtured by Iran
For example, Israeli intelligence believes the
Palestinians have acquired artillery, possibly even the
Russian-made Katyusha rockets favored by
"We are talking about small numbers [of rockets],
but they pose a very serious problem if they send
one into an [army] post or a settlement from four
kilometers away," said a senior Israeli military
official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
In Nablus, Palestinian fighters boast that in early
October they forced the Israeli army to abandon
Joseph's tomb, a Jewish shrine and yeshiva that had
been an irritant to Palestinian self-rule in the city.
"With a couple of M-16s, we pushed them right out.
We know we won't be as strong as Hezbollah. We
don't have Iran and Syria to help us, but we have
enough military equipment for what we need to do, if
we choose the time and use guerrilla tactics," Masri
In any Palestinian city, it takes only one or two
queries to find directions to somebody who is selling
guns. A merchant in Ramallah, working near the fruit
and vegetable market, quoted prices starting at $900
for a used Egyptian-made rifle and rising into the
thousands for an M-16 or a Kalashnikov.
"There are hundreds of different ways to get guns if
you have enough money. And people here will do
anything to get one," Masri said. "He'll take his entire
life savings or sell his wife's gold."
Under the 1993 Oslo peace agreements, which set
up limited Palestinian self-rule, the Palestinians were
given 15,000 guns and pistols, 240 machine guns,
armored personnel carriers, and other equipment to
build their police force. Israel itself provided some of
the weapons. Contrary to the claims of some Israeli
right-wingers, Israeli military intelligence does not
believe the police weapons are being used
extensively to attack Israelis, according to an Israeli
The bigger concern is illegal weapons, most of them
in the hands of Fatah militias known as the Tanzim,
Arabic for apparatus, and a smaller number with
groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
These weapons come from a variety of sources.
Some were in the hands of Palestine Liberation
Organization fighters long before the peace process,
some dating back to the British Mandate before the
1930s. Other guns were stolen from Israeli army
bases or from the homes of reserve soldiers.
Bedouins, nomadic Arabs - some of whom serve in
the Israeli army - have been implicated in some of
the thefts. Israeli soldiers, too, have been caught
selling their own weapons.
A far larger number of weapons are smuggled in
from outside Israel. Hussam Khader, an outspoken
Nablus politician who frequently complains of
Palestinian corruption, says Palestinian officials have
used their diplomatic protection to bring in guns.
"Before the uprising, the VIPs had a real opportunity
to trade in guns. They would buy them for $200
from Iraq, bring them across the Allenby bridge
[from Jordan], and sell them for a very nice profit in
Nablus," Khader said.
Some members of the Israeli parliament have
charged that Arafat himself is smuggling weapons
and ammunition when he flies into Gaza. The
airplane assigned to Arafat's official use is the only
Palestinian aircraft that is not inspected by Israeli
authorities. But the Israeli intelligence official said the
evidence of Arafat's involvement was inconclusive.
"We have seen a rush of airfield workers converging
in a suspicious manner on his plane when it lands,"
the official said.
Smuggling weapons into Gaza is an adventurous
business because, unlike the West Bank, Gaza is
cordoned off by an electrical fence and walls.
Usually weapons come in from Egypt, either in
fishing boats or in tunnels dug around Rafah, the
southern border crossing into Gaza.
"The sand is soft, so they can dig a tunnel in a couple
of days. There are a lot of houses on the border, so
they start from somebody's living room and go to the
other side," said Gal Luft, a former Israeli army
officer who was stationed in Rafah and now writes
extensively on weapons.
The smugglers often use oil barrels with the ends
removed to line their tunnels - making pipelines for
guns, drugs or other contraband.
"Anything they bring in has to be relatively small. It is
difficult for them to smuggle in big military items,"
Other weapons are discovered closer to home.
The Israeli army believes the Palestinians have
thousands of antitank mines, which were dug up
from Sinai around the former confrontation lines
between Israel and Egypt, according to the army
intelligence official. Other explosives are
manufactured in garages or small factories, usually
by Hamas guerrillas.
The Palestinians certainly have mortar shells: A
120mm mortar shell was used to make a roadside
bomb in the Nov. 20 attack against an Israeli school
bus in Gaza. What is unclear is whether the
Palestinians also have mortars to launch the shells.
Much of the Israeli information about the Palestinian
arsenal comes from footage on Palestinian television
of parades and funerals. The Israeli army was
alarmed to spot what looked like an antitank missile
in a recent demonstration. Military sources say the
Palestinians also have small numbers of grenade
launchers, rocket-propelled grenades, wire-guided
antitank missiles, and Russian-made antiaircraft guns.
Kamal al Sheikh, Ramallah's police chief, ridicules
the Israelis for complaining so profusely about illegal
weapons held by Palestinians.
"The Israelis have the most powerful army in the
Middle East. They are capable of taking on the
whole region, and they tell us they are afraid of a few
hundred guns," al Sheikh said.
But it is almost certain, Israeli sources say, that the
Palestinians have a far deadlier arsenal than they
have actually used. So far, the weapons deployed in
clashes are limited to guns, Molotov cocktails, and
the weapon always in plentiful supply, the rock.
Israeli helicopters over Gaza fly in zigzagging
formations, on the assumption that they could be
targets for antiaircraft guns, but so far none have
been turned against them.
Israeli intelligence says Arafat is stockpiling weapons
with the belief that he will need them if Israel tries to
reoccupy the parts of the West Bank and Gaza
turned over through the peace agreements.
"They haven't used a lot of the capabilities that they
have. Arafat doesn't want to play this game
one-on-one with the Israeli army right now," Luft
said. "They want to keep the appearance of a
The Palestinians also could be running short of
ammunition as a result of the closures tightened by
the Israelis around the borders of the West Bank
"At the beginning of this, people were going out into
the street and firing like crazy at weddings, at
funerals. But you don't see that anymore, and that
tells you they have a problem with ammunition," Luft
The subject of illegal Palestinian weapons has
become highly political, with many conservative
Israelis saying the proliferation of guns should be
reason to cancel the peace agreements.
For their part, Palestinian officials say Israel has
failed to appreciate the efforts they have made to
keep the weapons they were given under Oslo out
of the wrong hands and to restrict illegal weapons.
"This is for the benefit of the Palestinian Authority
itself, not just to Israel, not to allow anybody to
carry a weapon," said al Sheikh, the Ramallah police
This article ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer on December 18, 2000
Barbara Demick's e-mail address is
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