|Israel Resource Review
||29th September, 1998
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The Case of the Stolen Children from Yemen - Part XI
A Mother and Child Reunion
by Yechiel A. Mann
You can read the previous parts of this story
here on this website.
In the same week that four graves were opened, Tzila Levine
arrived in Israel. Mrs. Levine came from Sacramento,
California with the thought that she may have been taken from
her original family and sold for adoption as a child.
She arrived in Israel with a written declaration she received from her
adopting mother stating that she was adopted as a foundling. Also,
her dark skin led her to believe that she may have been
kidnapped from her parents as she heard happened with other children.
She came to Israel to see if she could find her biological parents.
On the 18th of August, 1997, a report on Tzila Levine appeared in the
Yediot Acharonot newspaper. Tzila was quoted as saying "I am
only asking to find my biological parents and find out who really brought
me into the world". Levine (50), who lives in Sacramento, California was
adopted by a couple who lived on the Ein Ha-Mifratz Kibbutz.
The newspaper further reported that her parents told her they had
received her from a doctor in a medical clinic in the Haifa area, and told
her that she was adopted when she was six years old. Levine was quoted, "All
the years I was different in the Kibbutz. Everyone was light-skinned and I
was the only one with dark skin".
The article reports that Tzila Levine began searching for her parents when
her adopting mother died, five years before the article was written. She
also was quoted as saying, "I went to the archives of the Ein Ha-Mifratz
Kibbutz, and asked for the documents related to my adoption. I found that
the adoption certificates said I was a foundling child and my parents were
not known. I spoke to the office of adoptions in Haifa and they asked me
to come there. In the office, they checked the material they had and said
that they had no file related to my adoption. 'There was a big mess [in the
files, back then], go home', they told me. I left the office and started
crying, because I'd never find my parents".
One of the people that helped Tzila get started in her search was Mr.
Sampson Giat, the President of the Federation of Yemenite Jews in the
United States. Mr. Giat went on cable-TV and spoke at length on the subject
of the kidnapped children. He then asked anyone who thought they might have
been one of the abducted children to contact him. Mrs. Levine contacted Mr.
Giat, and told him of her case. It was Mr. Giat who assisted her in finding
the necessary contacts in Israel and establishing contact with them.
By the 21st of August, 1997 it was reported that as many as fifteen
families who had heard of Mrs. Levine's case, came to Rammy Tsuberi, Tzila
Levine's lawyer, saying that Tsila Levine might be their stolen child.
One specific family that came to Tsuberi's office on the 20th of that
month was mentioned: Mrs. Margalit Omessei, and her children. Mrs. Levine
and the Omessei family met each other at Mr. Tsuberi's office and, upon
noticing the amazing similarity between her daughter Yehudit and Tzila,
Margalit Omessei was reported to "have kissed Tzila warmly, and said
that there is an amazing similarity between Levine and her daughter
Yehudit. Margalit requested that Levine have a blood-test, so they would
be able to check whether she was, indeed, her daughter. Dr Hassan Hatib, a
genetics expert in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, took the blood sample
in Tsuberi's office. The results were expected to be announced within days.
'Even if you are not my daughter, know that you will always be in my heart,
and will always have a place in Israel', Mrs. Omessei told Mrs. Levine."
(Yediot Acharonot, 21st August, 1997). One of the reasons that Mrs.
Omessei suspected Tzila might be her daughter was after she had seen a
picture in the newspaper of Tzila when she was an infant. It was then that
Mrs. Omessei noticed the resemblance between Tzila, as a baby, and Mazal,
On the 25th of August, 1997, the phone rang in the home of Dina
Frazer, a childhood friend of Tzila Levine's, where she was staying. On
the line was Tzila's lawyer, Rammy Tsuberi. "That's it, the tests were a
success. We found your mother", he said. Tzila was in shock when she heard
the news. She was trembling with excitement as she drank some water, and
took some time to recover. She then began crying, "Yes! It's my mother! My
mother! . . . ."
Dr. Hassan Hatib of the Hebrew University's Genetics labs tested
both blood samples and reported, "With all the blood samples, I
conducted D.N.A. tests in the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction)
method in ten different genetic signs that are Polymorphic in
different groups. (He then lists the ten different signs.) The results of
my tests were as follows: In every one of the ten genetic signs that were
tested the daughter, Tzila received one aponeurosis from the mother,
Margalit. Of course, every one of Margalit's children received one
aponuerosis from the mother, Margalit. In the statistic calculations that
are used in the forensic labs around the world, the chance that Mrs.
Tzila Levine is the daughter of Mrs. Margalit Omessei is 99.99143%." The
report was signed "Genetics - Hebrew University, Dr. Hassan Hatib". After
Hatib conducted these tests, he repeated tests in another four genetic
signs, also showing that Levine and Omessei were, indeed, mother and
After this report, the entire Israeli public was interested in Mrs.
Omessei and Mrs. Levine's reunion. For months it was the most common topic
in public. One broadcast on the Arutz 7 radio station reported:
"Tzlia Levine, from the Unites States, is the biological daughter of
Mrs. Margalit Omessei. This is the result of DNA tests carried out in the
Genetics Laboratory in Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The tests found
that there is a perfect match between the DNA of Mrs. Levine and the
"She arrived in Israel with the express purpose of finding her original
family; the Omessei family claimed that she is their daughter who
disappeared from a Rosh HaAyin infirmary in 1949.
"Levine was brought up on Kibbutz Ein Hamifratz by adoptive
parents over 50 years ago. She began to look for her biological
parents after the death of her adoptive mother five years ago.
Margalit Omessei said she had never given up hope of finding her lost
"In a related item, the public committee investigating the
disappearance of the Yemenite children heard the testimony today
of Avraham Buzi, who said that his eighteen month old daughter
disappeared from a babies' home in Pardes Hanna in 1949.
"He visited her one day and found her healthy, but the next day
was told that she had died. He said that he never received a death
certificate nor saw her grave." (26th August, 1997).
The truth is that the results of the tests were a surprise even to
Dr. Hatib. He was quoted as saying, "The chance that two
people, with no family relation, will have the same genetic ID is
nil. In this case, I set the genetic ID of the mother, Margalit and
in Tzila's genetic ID it was found that half of what she has
comes from Margalit. This happens only in a case of a mother
"I was shocked at the results, because to find the daughter, out of all
the people in the world, that belongs to the right mother is like taking
a shot in the dark. At first glance, I did not believe the results, which
is why I conducted another series of tests. The results are of a
reliable test, that meets international standards and that are acceptable
in the forensic laboratories all over the world".
The tragic story of the separation of Margalit and her daughter
began in 1949, as Margalit testified to the Cohen committee on the
15th of November, 1995. Part of this testimony was recorded as
Chairman Judge Yehuda Cohen: "You came to Israel in 1949, Rosh
Hashana," [Jewish New Year].
Margalit Omessei: "Right."
Chairman Cohen: "With your girl . . ."
Margalit: "Right. . . my family"
Chairman Cohen: "You didn't write here . . . did her father come too?"
Margalit: "No, I divorced him three months before I came to Israel."
Chairman Cohen: "Did you notify the authorities you were divorced?"
Margalit: "Yes, he even didn't know the girl...he was very ill back in Yemen."
Chairman Cohen: "Did he ever come to Israel?"
Margalit: "Yes, almost the same month, but he came alone, and I came
alone with my family"
Chairman Cohen: "And he showed no interest in the girl,"
Margalit: "Not at all, he was very ill".
Chairman Cohen: "And then they took you to Rosh Ha-Ayin,"
Margalit: "I came to Rosh Ha-Ayin, camp Alef, on the day of Rosh
Chairman Cohen: "Was it a tent-camp?"
Chairman Cohen: "And they took the children to a baby-home?"
Margalit: "Children . . . right . . . when..."
Member of Committee, Brigadier David Maimon: "You had only
Margalit: "Only Mazal. "
Maimon: "Did you have any other children?"
Chairman Cohen: "I say they took all the children that arrived at that
time were taken to the baby home, as was Mazal,"
Margalit: "The moment we reached the main road of Rosh-Ha-Ayin,
the nurses came and snatched every child from their mother's arms,
with no explanation, without saying anything about where to and
why, nothing. They took us to the bathing rooms, while they took the
children to the baby homes, with Magen David [Adom], and we came out
and asked where our children are, and got no answer. They then put us
into tents, every mother crying for her child. I was in the same tent
with two other mothers, and we started looking through the tents during
the night to find for our children, until the morning when
we heard our babies crying. We asked the guards, and went and saw
screaming children, and mothers screaming in the babies' home. So,
we went back to the tents, and saw our children every morning, every
day I got my baby, I was still nursing her, getting her in the morning,
and feeding her. I did the same every afternoon, but all day every day
we looked at our babies through the windows of the baby home."
Chairman Cohen: "But she was then about a year and a half old,"
Margalit: "A year exactly"
Chairman Cohen: "A year?"
Margalit: "When she was taken from me. She was a year and a half
old . . . when she disappeared, she was a year and a half old,"
Chairman Cohen: "You're saying it took six months [from your
arrival] until she disappeared,"
Margalit: "Yes, and I always gave her food, I gave her everything,
and she wasn't at all sick, except when her throat was a bit red, she
suffered some diarrhea when her teeth were first coming in, but I
gave her food three times a day, and the same nurse gave her to me
every day, and one day...."
Chairman Cohen: "You're saying that it was about at the end of a
six-month period that she was taken to the hospital"
Margalit: "Yes, she was taken to the hospital, the one that wasn't
too far from the baby home, about 200 meters away from it"
Chairman Cohen: "In Rosh-HaAyin"
Margalit: "In Rosh-HaAyin . . . and I was still always at the window,
looking at her. One day, I came to the hospital, and they let me
into the hospital. This was the first time they let me into the
hospital. Three doctors were standing next to me, asking me where
her father is. I told them I came divorced, and I was just with my
girl and my family. My child was in my hands then. After a while,
they took her from me, and I left. After I left, my child was taken to
the baby home. After a while, one day I came, as every other day,
and she wasn't there that morning. I fed her dinner the night before.
She wasn't there. I asked a nurse. . . she didn't know. I told her that
she gave her to me all the time, but she still didn't know. She didn't
know. I went crazy. Nothing. I went to the mayor's secretary,
Bedihi, and I yelled there and cried, and he threw me out, and said
he didn't know. At the end he saw I was so disturbed by it that he
sent me to the Petah-Tiqvah police station. The Petah-Tiqva police
sent me to all kinds of places, to the Hospital, to WIZO, to
everywhere they sent me . . . I went. I would work two or three days,
save up the money for travel, and go. I never found her. Not at
Bet-Lid, not at Ein-Shemer, and not at Rosh HaAyin, nowhere.
Everywhere I went, I couldn't find her. And her file at
Rosh-HaAyin said she was still alive. After the Six-Day War ['67] I
received a letter from the Petah-Tikvah Police, asking that I go to
the station. I went, and the person there read the file and all. I told
him my daughter wasn't dead, she's alive. He read the letter and
told me that she went from the hospital to the baby-home, and from
there they don't know where she went. I told him I don't know, but
I'm not giving up, I want my girl from wherever she is. He told me
that they should take all those nurses and doctors to prison, and
that she's still alive. From that time on, I got no answer . . . ."
This testimony shows that even the police at the time were aware
of the crimes being committed. Margalit's testimony goes on as she
describes cases of families she knows that had children taken as
The next time the committee heard Margalit Omessei was after her
reunion with Tzila Levine. Tzila, Margalit and their family came to
testify before the committee and members of the press.
Even foreign press took an interest in this case, so it was not
surprising that when the official committee heard Mrs. Levine and
Mrs. Omessei I was able to spot cameras and reporters from networks like
ABC news, Fox news and Sky news, just to name a few.
Tzila's attorney, Rammy Tzuberi, came to the committee, to represent
Margalit and Tzila. The committee began by hearing a detailed
account of Tzila's search for her parents, and went on with the details
of their reunion. Tzila also spoke of what her adopting parents had
told her while they were still alive, about how they chose her from the
many children in the doctor's home; how she stood there in her crib,
laughing and raising her arms up high, which is when her adopting father,
Mordechai Rozenstock, decided to take her. The emotional tension in the
room that day was overwhelming. None of the people present could help
crying, walking over to congratulate Margalit and Tzila for being
reunited after nearly fifty years, and hoping in their hearts to see more
of these reunions. I was introduced to Margalit and Tzila by an elderly
Yemenite I have been in close touch with regarding research. He's worked
on the case extensively himself, and wishes to remain anonymous. He's
known Margalit for a long time. Although this was the first time I met
Margalit, I've seen her in almost every rally and convention on the topic
However, at the time I was still afraid of cover-up methods being
applied. I told a few people including individuals from Mishkan Ohalim,
prominent journalists, and Sampson Giat's wife, Jackie, who was also
present, that I believed that since the committee had been involved in
previous cover-ups, it would cover this up as well. I speculated that the
committee would demand another DNA test, and even speculated it
would appoint Dr. Yehuda Hiss, head of the Institute for Forensic Medicine
in Abu-Kabir, to do these tests. I then said I believed they would wait
for Tzila to return to the United States (I said maybe a month or so)
to give the false results. I said that I believed they would lie about the
results, saying that Tzila and Margalit were not mother and daughter
after all. I was told that no-one would dare contradict such a solid,
proven test as the one conducted by a prominent geneticist of the Hebrew
University . . . "Noone will believe it." I mentioned this possibility
during a committee recess. The state attorney, Drora Nachmani-Roth then
began to raise questions, after presenting a document showing that Tzila
was adopted in November 1948, while Margalit Omessei immigrated to Israel
This is despite the fact that Tzila was not able to find any
documents regarding her adoption. Attorney Tzuberi attempted to
answer this strange inconsistency by suggesting that Margalit
could have made a mistake regarding the date of immigration, since
she was then barely familiar with the non-Jewish calendar. Tzuberi
had a hard time trying to suggest that the document was forged. So many
other documents were forged at the time, such as death certificates, birth
certificates, and many more. In the first article in this series, I wrote
of a cache of pre-signed blank birth and death certificates found by a
government official, Yehudit Hivner. According to Ms. Hivner's testimony,
these documents contained no dates, or any entries other than a signature
and a stamp. This would allow the filling in of any and all details about
a child, even a falsified birth date.
On September 14th 1997 Tzila Levine returned to her family in
the United States. It was less than a month later, on the 9th of
October 1997, that I woke up to hear on the radio how the worst of my
predictions had come true, almost word-for-word.
Kol Israel Radio reported that morning:
"Yemenite born Tzila Levine is not the lost daughter of Margalit
Omessei. New DNA tests prove there is no common genetic
pattern between the two. Medical experts say the genetic tests
carried out at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute are the newest
techniques and refute earlier results."
Attorney Tzuberi made sure to let the public know of Dr. Hiss'
breach of agreement. Hiss and the family of Omessei and Levine
had a signed agreement that the results of the testing will be
given only to Tzuberi and the family. However, Tzuberi got no
notice of the results, and only found out about them by reading
them in the media after they were publicized by the spokesman for the
Abu Kabir Institute.
Arutz 7 Radio reported:
"Tzila Levine, who claims she is the daughter of Yemenite Jew
Margalit Omessei, but separated from her fifty years ago while a
baby, has questioned the validity of Ministry of Health tests
which are said to have proved she is not Margalit's daughter
after all. An earlier DNA test had said that she was.
"'I was disappointed with the results' Tzila told radio station
Arutz 7 today, "but not at all surprised. It was made clear to us
that the methodology used by this institute would be able to be
interpreted differently by different chemists, and we therefore
asked that testing procedure be stopped.
"Tzila said the Institute which tested her broke a signed
agreement not to publicize the results and that if they could
not keep their word, she had no reason to believe in the
accuracy of the tests.
"She also said she did not trust the Ministry of Health which
stood by as hundreds of children 'disappeared' fifty years
ago . . . . I rather believe the results of the previous testing, which
was carried out twice, and which found that we are in fact
mother and daughter.'
"Tzila said that after spending a total of nine days together,
both she and Margalit were absolutely certain they were
mother and daughter."
On that day, I was contacted by a few journalists, amazed
by the accuracy of my "prediction". Frankly, so was I. I was
even right about the time I said they'd publicize the results.
On 22nd November, 1997, an article was published in the
Maariv Israeli mainstream newspaper. This article was
written by Michal Kapra, and was based on an interview
with Dr. Hassan Hatib, still standing by the results of his
first tests. A few important details were given in this article.
One, that after the results of Dr. Hiss' tests, Hatib conducted
another series of tests, using the blood from the same
samples that Hiss used in the labs of the Forensic Institute.
These tests showed again, that Margalit Omessei and Tzila
Levine are, indeed, mother and daughter.
Another important fact is that Dr. Hatib was not able to
receive Hiss' results from the Institute. The results were
never shown to anyone, and only a final conclusion was
issued by the Institute. Never were the test results shown to
Dr. Hatib, to attorney Tzuberi, to the government committee . . .
to no one.
One other important thing that Hatib mentioned is that Dr.
Hiss used a mitochondrial DNA test, while he himself used
chromosomichal DNA. Hatib mentions that there is a scientific
problem dealing with mitochondrial DNA, since it is unstable and
mutates over the years, which is why it's not used in tests to
determine family relation. He also mentions that this DNA goes
through immense changes after the age of 40. In this article,
Hatib is backed up on this point by Professor Adam Friedman, of
the Haddassa Ein-Karem Hospital. Professor Friedman is considered
by many to be the most prominent geneticist in the State of
Israel. Professor Friedman also says that the chromosomichal DNA
tests are far more reliable. He mentions the problems that arise
with the changes that occur in mitochondrial DNA.
Later on, in response to this, a claim was issued by the
Forensic labs that they then conducted a second series of
tests, in chromosomichal DNA, which showed again, that
Mrs. Levine and Mrs. Omessei are not mother and daughter. This is
not to say they took another blood sample for these tests,
or that these results were publicized either. It is crucial to
remember that no records or results of the tests were given
to anyone by the Forensic labs . . . just their final conclusion.
Margalit Omessei and Tzila Levine are convinced they are
mother and daughter, as is the rest of their family. This
became most clear to me after I paid a visit to Margalit last
month. I also found out from Margalit that Tzila is now
writing a book on the story of her reunion with her family.
However, even more importantly, Sampson Giat is
continuing his efforts to reunite more families of the stolen
children. He has issued many letters and press releases, as
well as interviews to TV networks, and is doing what he can
to reunite as many families as possible. Mr. Giat has conducted
the most extensive and professional work on this issue. If anyone
would like to contact Sampson Giat, to assist him, to receive
information, or just to show support for the cause, he can be
305 Seventh Avenue, 11th Floor New York, NY 10001
Tel/Fax: (212) 633-8453
Or by Email, at YemFed@AOL.com
E-mail of author: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Official Fatah Editorial - Preparing for State
The following is the complete and unedited text
of an editorial on the official Fatah Website
15th September, 1998, http://www.fateh.org/e_editor/98/150998.htm
President Clinton has sworn that he will remain committed to the
peace process in the Middle East. He has promised that the US
Administration will remain involved and that nothing will weaken US
resolve to do everything possible to push the peace process
Since we have no recourse other than to place our trust in
President Clinton, we look forward to the enactment of this
promise, hoping that it will not be sucked down into the vortex of
the Starr report on the Clinton-Lewinsky affair.
The first thing that President Clinton should do is to terminate
Dennis Ross as the US peace envoy in the Middle East. Ross'
behavior advertises the existence of double standards. Ross is not
an honest peace broker. To the Palestinians, he is persona non
grata, a spokesman for Zionist oppression, under imperialistic
influences, who acts against an occupied people fighting for
freedom. Ross seems to take pleasure in his efforts to take 3% from
the body of the victim, giving no thought to the blood that will be
shed in the process.
President Arafat has realized that Dennis Ross is satisfied with
wasting our time without helping us to reach an agreement with the
Israelis. Like windmills attached to no power-producing source,
Ross' trips spin and spin, to no avail. For this reason, President
Arafat has asked President Clinton to send Ms. Albright to the
area, in the hopes that she will be better able to represent US
interests. Ms. Albright, at least, does not seem quite so likely as
Ross to speak for the interests of the Zionist Likud lobby within
the US Administration.
Until Clinton honors his pledge and exerts the necessary pressure
on the Israeli side, which has so far failed to honor the peace
agreements, Palestinians should maintain their current position.
They should refuse to make any more concessions. Otherwise, Israel
will be in a stronger position to kill off the Palestinian dream of
establishing the Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
The establishment of this state will be a strong foundation for
peace in the Middle East and, by easing tensions and freeing
energies and resources both here and abroad, will contribute to
Nearly two years have passed, in which we have experienced "much
ado about nothing", as Israeli and US negotiators have attempted to
undermine the terms of reference of the Oslo Accord -- to negate UN
Resolutions 242 and 338, along with the principle of "land for
peace", as phrased in "notes for the record" in the Hebron
Protocol. To nullify these terms of reference is to put an end to
the legal basis of the Oslo agreement and to deny the legitimacy of
the Palestinian demand for the return of our land.
A review of Israeli contempt for deadlines shows that this in fact
is what is happening. From Rubin and Peres down to Netenyahu,
Israeli leaders have shown their disrespect for a negotiated
political settlement, including the schedules agreed upon for this
work. One can't help but wonder will happen on the date of May 4,
1999, the day agreed on in the Oslo Accord for the end of the
interim stage of negotiations. By the end of this stage, the two
parties are to have fulfilled the obligations each assumed in the
framework of the agreement. Now Israeli leaders have begun to say
that "dates are not sacred." Are we to understand from this that
agreements are not sacred, and that the Israelis are announcing
their failure to honor their commitments? Palestinians fear that
the date will arrive for the end of negotiations without any
agreements having been made.
So should the Palestinians surrender? Should we accept a two-year
extension of the negotiating period, as Israeli Labor Party
ideologists have suggested?
The Fateh Central Committee has discussed in depth the current
situation. They reaffirm that a unified Palestinian position is a
necessity to ensure our credibility and the maintenance of a strong
This time, when we declare a Palestinian state, as we live within
the liberated parts of our homeland, our position is different from
the declaration of independence made when we were in the Diaspora.
Now, the fact that we have existing executive, judicial and
legislative institutions puts teeth into our declaration. Next
year's declaration of independence represents a move from self-rule
to the creation of a truly sovereign state.
We understand that achievement of our sovereignty depends to some
measure on the world's willingness to recognize the state of
Palestine. Thus we have work to do, in order to ensure that we will
obtain the recognition we need from Europe and the rest of the
world. Already, the non-aligned countries, all 114 of them, who met
recently in South Africa, have expressed their readiness to
recognize the new Palestinian state.
When Palestine is recognized by the nations of the world as an
independent state, and what Israel views now as disputed land
becomes our nation, Netenyahu and the Likud Party will be forced to
act responsibly before the eyes of the world. No longer will
Shamir's philosophy of wading through ten years of negotiation
before yielding one inch of land be allowed to govern Israel's
The PLO must play a leading role within the liberated PNA
territories and take the lead, as well, within the Diaspora, in the
attempt to mobilize the Palestinian people for the coming struggle.
Both within the West Bank and Gaza and outside, the PLO must
activate all Palestinian institutions and to ensure national unity
by involving non-PLO parties such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The
PLO, its Executive Committee, and President Arafat, as head of that
committee, form an administration that should use all available
resources, including Fateh, the movement which can turn dreams into
Among us, the declaration of the Palestinian state should not
unravel into a yes/no discussion, but must focus on the specific
ways in which we will work to realize our independence -- without,
however, degenerating into internal arguments over minute tactical
Finally, any interim agreement should include Palestinian
insistence on unconditional Israeli acceptance of the US initiative
now being considered. Any interim agreement should also contain the
- an explicit pledge on Israel's part to halt settlement
- no prohibition of the Palestinian right to declare a state on
May 4, 1999; and
- commitment on Israel's part to carry out the third troop
redeployment, as well as any other interim steps agreed upon in the
Oslo Accord, before final status negotiations are begun.
Revolution until victory!
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PA Security Chief:
We Drafted 25 Hamas Terrorists into Palestinian
Security Forces to Protect Them from Israel
Following are excerpts of an interview on 24th September, 1998, with
Muhammad Dahlan, head of the Palestinian Preventive Security
Service in Gaza, which was conducted by the official Palestinian
Authority newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda.
Question: The Preventive Security Service has been criticized for
not accepting into its ranks people who are not members of Fatah.
Dahlan: That is not correct. We have enlisted into the ranks of the
Preventive Security Service many of our brothers active in other
organizations opposed to the agreement and I have considered this
to be a personal goal Matters reached the point where we engaged
in a huge political battle with the Americans and the Israelis over
the enlistment of some 25 members of the Hamas military wing, which
was done as part of our overall responsibility toward all members
of the Palestinian people. Israel accuses them of being the
hard-core military infrastructure of the Izz a-Din Al-Kassam
brigades [the Hamas terror cells]. We arrested them in the past for
various security-related matters, but we saw no reason to continue
to detain them. Since the Israeli Prime Minister contested the
matter, we made a historic, national decision to protect them. We
said very clearly to the Israelis that an attack on any of them
would be an attack on the entire Palestinian Preventive Security
Service. Thus, we protected them and gave them the opportunity for
an honorable life."
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