Israel Resource Review 13th Febuary, 2001


Official PA Radio News, 13th Febuary, 2001

Assassination Aftermath Bulletin, 2 p.m.

Following the assassination this morning of Mas'oud Ayyad, an officer in the Palestinian elite unit known as Force 17, V.O.P. reacted with extensive live local coverage detailed condemnations from the Palestinian Authority. This included comments from PA spokesman Nabil Abu-Irdeineh that the PA would not be scared off by such actions and policies by Ariel Sharon and his advisor Meir Dagan (although neither Sharon nor Dagan are in office yet) and would respond to them, raising violence to a new level. PA Justice Minister Freih Abu-Medein said Israel was guilty of "state terrorism."

The Fatah secretary in Gaza said "the Israeli enemy" would not succeed in dampening the Intifada with its policy of escalations.

V.O.P. said the death of Ayyad was the tenth assassination of a Fatah commander by Israel during the Intifada.

The V.O.P. coverage featured an unusual 11:02 a.m. live broadcast from Gaza with its local corespondent 'Adil Za'anoun describing the four missiles fired by the helicopter-borne Israeli assassination team.

The "martyr" Ayyad, 55 years old, was described as a key Force 17 commander, and V.O.P. relayed part of the Israeli contentions that Ayyad had been working with Hezbollah (Lebanon) operatives to smuggle heavy weapons into Gaza and to train Palestinians in their use (but V.O.P. did not report Israeli contentions that this included at least two mortar attacks on Netzarim settlement in Gaza).

Summary and Analysis
Escalation: Verbal and Otherwise

For the last three or four days, the Voice Of Palestine has been opening its news shows with general headlines about Israeli escalations and heightened confrontations, even when there are no fatalities on the Palestinian side which could be headlined as "martyrings." (Note: today and late yesterday, the deaths of two Palestinians allowed V.O.P. to begin its news shows with a martyr headline rather than a general escalation headline.) At the same time, as has been customary for V.O.P., there is scant attention being paid to Israeli fatalities or attacks on Israeli civilians that often touch off confrontations, which are then covered luridly.

V.O.P. described the Israeli use of tear gas in its news stories today and yesterday in almost-hysterical terms, today describing the gas as "poison gas" as well as "a type of nerve gas prohibited by international law."

V.O.P. has been highlighting PA officials-as well as Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Musa-contending that there can be no talks with Israel unless they begin from where they had left off in Taba, with the ideas of yesterday's leaders: Clinton, Barak, Ben-Ami and Beilin. The tough talk is also laced with strong hints of threats (see interview below with Nabil Sha'ath, interviewed yesterday, translated today).

Days of Rage and Preparations For War?

It appears that the heightened V.O.P. rhetoric is meant to prepare (and perhaps even trigger) the Palestinian public for actual escalation as well as to make a case before human rights investigations and European governments for increased intervention on their part at a time when the Palestinian Authority has been more than disappointed by the statements by President George Bush, ex-President Bill Clinton and soon-to-be-ex-prime minister Ehud Barak.

In a very unusual morning commentary by senior V.O.P. commentator Youssef al-Kazaz, the Palestinian Authority virtually beseeched gunmen not to shoot from populated neighborhoods and inhabited buildings. This was not a call for non-violence or for restraint. Rather it was more like an operations manual to prevent an Israeli reprisal that would hurt civilians. The almost-plaintive commentary by Kazaz was nearly identitical-but much longer and repetitive-than a similiar call broadcast on V.O.P. from Marwan Barghouti on December 31. Then, too, the comment was not a call for non-violence but for more effective violence. The fact that this time the summons or plea came from the voice of V.O.P.'s top commentator can mean one or both of the following-and neither of them good.

Arafat is really preparing for war and preparing his public for war; and/or
Arafat still has a great deal of control but not enough to prevent wide-spread 'freelance' attacks by PA armed forces and tanzeem, unless he goes head-to-head with them, risking a serious loss of his intifada-won popularity rise.

7 a.m. Morning Round-up Headlines

  • "The latest Intifada news and (news of) the Israeli aggression against the sons of our people from our correspondents throughout the homeland;
  • Two martyrs in Ramallah and El-Bireh, and a farming ban in Khan Yunis camp;
  • Occupation forces burn tens of houses near the Tufah roadblock, as they use gas that induces hysteria;
  • His Excellency President Yasser Arafat begins an Arab round (of talks) to deal with developments after Sharon's victory in the prime ministerial election in Israel;
  • Dr. Nabil Sha'ath visits Saudi Arabia to meet with Saudi Finance Minister;
  • The Fatah movement in Bethlehem calls for boycotting Israeli media because of their lack of reliability;
  • Likelihood of forming a national unity government in Israel between Labor and Likud."

Morning Headlines, 7 a.m. / 8 a.m. / 9 a.m.

  • "Israeli aggression continues against the sons of our people leading to the martyring of two citizens and the wounding of ninety, six of them in dangerous condition;
  • Israeli shelling on several locations in the homeland… ;
  • Occupation forces continue to hold on to the body of the exalted martyr Atif Ahmad al-Nabulsi, 35 years old;
  • His excellency President Yasser Arafat meets Tunisian President Zein Abdeen Ben-Ali today in Tunis after meeting Egyptian president Husni Mubarak in Cairo yesterday;
  • The Palestinian Authority condemns Israeli aggression against our people, and the presidential secretary Ta'ib Abdel-Rahim says that the escalation carried out by the occupation army in Ramallah and Beit Jallah and Khan Yunis is unprecedented." (fuller version of headlines to be sent later)

Quotes from Interview with Nabil Sha'ath on current inter-Arab dialogue (Monday February 12, 7:45 a.m.)

"The important problem for Palestinian public opinion is execution (of Arab commitments to donate to the Intifada support fund). They have heard us, but what we desire is execution. That's not the matter. It's not about an exchange of opinions but a difference of opinion about execution and framework and why this agreement has not led to a speedy execution. When the agreement is finished the Palestinian citizen has to feel it-not only in statements but on the ground."

Question: "What message did the Arabs at the conference send Sharon in connection with the peace process?"

Answer: "The message was clear, and it was that we link any progress in the talks with the obligation of Israeli party to the source authority of Madrid, international resolutions 242, 194 and beside that the agreements and international memoranda and the exchange of territory for peace. If Sharon really wants success, then he has to abide by these rules.

And if not, then he will find an Arab nation and Arab governments in front of him ready to resist any attempt to attack us….And I think Minister Amr Musa made this point completely."

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