Israel Resource Review 16th Febuary, 2001


Official Palestinian Radio News: The Voice of Palestine (V.O.P.) February 15-16th

Quote of the Day-February 15

The terrorism (by Israel) yesterday involved the use of gas bombs which we do not know how to treat this poison. We are against escalation and terror. We are in favor of a just and comprehensive peace not just for our sake but also for the sake of the Israelis and the region of the Middle East. There is a role for Turkey, an international, a role for Europe, a role for Russia and for the United States and a role for the Arab states. We call for an international effort, quickly, to put a stop to this military escalation against our people".
          Yasser Arafat from Ankara press conference Wednesday, broadcast Thursday morning 7:03 a.m.

Summary and Analysis, February 15/16

From Thursday afternoon and through Friday mid-day, the Voice of Palestine headlined what it said were reports from the "Hebrew press" (al-suhuf al'ibriyya: Hebrew newspapers) that Israel was on the verge of launching full military operations against the Palestinians.

Friday's broadcast stressed on-going artillery attacks on Khan Yunis, Bethlehem and El-Bireh, according to V.O.P., that, according to V.O.P. had caused widespread power blackouts. Palestinian Radio also stressed the stern nature of the Israeli blockade placed on Palestinian towns and cities.

At the same time there was an important change in coverage in the last two days: Yasser Arafat has come full center stage in the news reports-something that had not been seen since the "independence intifada" began in late September. This could mean that Arafat feels he needs to buttress his image and/or it could mean that there is more internal criticism of and frustration with Arafat's leadership than what has been previously believed.

During its broadcasts on Thursday, V.O.P. continued and enlarged the process (begun Wednesday February 14) of building a heroic profile of the bus driver who rammed his bus into a bus stop south of Tel Aviv yesterday.

The Voice of Palestine did not call Ala Khalil Abu Alba a hero, but its strongly sympathetic treatment of him [ordinary working man, father of five, no known political attachments] left an unmistakable tone with listeners that the driver was being victimized and that he might even be worthy of respect.

Yasser Arafat was quoted throughout the day as calling the incident "an ordinary accident which could have taken place anywhere." There was no condemnation whatsoever.

The central theme of the day was not terror against Israel but by Israel which was, according to the PLO's UN representative in Geneva-nabil Ramlawi, escalating its war crimes on all fronts and evading any international investigations.

Palestinian radio emphasized the theme that Israel was preparing for war against the Palestinian Authority, using any and all military means and political stratagems. During its 9PM evening news round-up, it cited widely disparate Israeli officers such as Binyamin Ben Eliezer, (General Oren Shahor (Labor Party, former coordinator of West Bank for Israel) and former General Rafael Eytan are advocating liquidating leading PA officials, according to the V.O.P. report.

Even as it stressed that Israel was heading to war, V.O.P. highlighted claims by Arafat and other PA leaders that Israel was using illegal and immoral weapons systems using poison gas or uranium. At the same time, Israel was stopping Muslims from completing their religious duty to visit Mecca as pilgrims.

Part of the Israel-is-going-to-war picture was furnished by the government coalition developments in Israel. In the evening, V.O.P. reported at 9 p.m. that "defeated prime minister Ehud Barak" was accepting the "army portfolio" from Ariel Sharon-a reference to Barak's designation as defense minister in the presumed Sharon-led national unity government.

Thursday Morning Headlines. February 15, 7 a.m. / 8 a.m. / 9 a.m.

  • "His Excellency President Yasser Arafat called for an international presence on Palestinian territory as a base to stop the dangerous Israeli aggression against our people;
  • During a press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Jinn, his excellency also stressed the dangers of poison gas used by Israel as well as other strange measures used in Khan Yunis.;
  • "His Excellency said the Palestinian people clung to a just and lasting peace, refusing escalation and terrorism.;
  • His Excellency said Palestinian-Turkish relations were strong.;
  • Occupation forces shelled neighborhoods in Al-Aroub camp and the town of Yatta near Hebron;
  • Masses of our people escorted the two exalted martyrs in two funerals in Tulkarm and Gaza, the martyred officer Mas'oud Ayyad and the martyr First mate Ayyid Abu-Harb. The national Authority said Israel would bear the blame for the escalation that would result from the assassinations and its aggression against our people;
  • Occupation forces imposed a land, sea and air blockade on all Palestinian territory in the (West) Bank and Gaza, imposing a siege on all towns and cities;
  • The military authorities extended the custody for 15 days of Ala Khalil Abu Alba from Sheikh Radwan in Gaza for investigation while he is being treated in one of the hospitals, after his being critically wounded. And Abu Alba was wounded yesterday when the bus he was driving struck several Israeli soldiers, killing eight and injuring 21;
  • Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa say that the assassination policy of Israel against the Palestinians is a source of escalating violence. And Mousa said such assassinations only open the door to more violence and that every action leads to a reaction;
  • Jordanian foreign minister Tailib al-Rifai says that the dangerous escalation of Israel in Palestinian territory is the source of great worry to Jordan and the region;
  • Russian foreign minister Ivan Ivanov says Russia desires that new prime minister Ariel Sharon will take steps to put an end to the conflict.;
  • The Arab states strongly condemned the steps Israel was taking against our people, especially the assassination of Masoud Ayyad of Force 17. and blamed Israel for the escalation in the violence.demanding international protection for our people and condemning the war crimes being committed against our people;
  • The defeated Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak expressed his confidence that an agreement would soon be reached to form a national unity government headed by the leader of the Israeli Right, prime minister-elect Ariel Sharon.but he was not sure he (Barak) would participate in it."

Thursday Morning Round-up Headlines, February 15

  • "His Excellency President Yasser Arafat in Ankara renews his call for an international presence in Palestinian territory to stem the savage Israeli aggression against our people (Note: this item was repeated in roughly identical form through 18 consecutive newscasts throughout the day);
  • "His Excellency extolled the state of Palestinian-Turkish relations and Palestinian-Syrian relations;

Note: V.O.P. broke from usual format and used Arafat footage from yesterday's trip to Turkey at the top of its show, even before the bulletin headlines. The reason for this change is not clear, but perhaps it was a way of showing Arafat in good form and in control. Arafat spoke well and without interruption or noticeable stutter.

Thursday Afternoon February 15 Mid-day Round-up and Panorama Magazine, 2 p.m.

  • "The slaughter and murder of our innocent citizens continues despite international condemnations;
  • Today the Israeli authorities cold-bloodedly murdered the youth Nasser Muhammad Hasanat, 20 years old, contending that he was trying to enter the settlement of Kfar Darom, south of Gaza, and opened fire on him;
  • The reinforced Israeli blockade continues in all prefects, turning the homeland into a prison, preventing the entry or exit from any city;
  • On the political front, his excellency the president returns from a diplomatic tour of several countries.demanding an investigation into the use of poison gas;
  • The UN's investigation commission speaks to the Minister of Labor."

Friday February 16 Morning News 8 a.m.

  • "Occupation forces shell residential neighborhoods in El-Bireh, Hebron and southern Gaza;
  • His Excellency the president holds discussion with the European representative to the peace process (Miguel Angel Moratinos) regional topics in the shadow of the Israeli military escalation;
  • Agreement on establishment a national unity government in Israel between Labor and Likud, and Binyamin Netanyahu courts Sharon from Washington;
  • The Home Rule Minister (Saeb Erikat) warns Israel about abandoning (literally: scratching off) the source authority of the peace process;
  • The Hebrew newspapers say the Occupation forces are about to launch painful military operations against Palestinian personalities, especially against leaders of the Fatah Movement."

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