Thursday, August 25, 2005

Peaceful State Watch

Well, let's take a look at what's going on in the Peaceful State of Palestine today, shall we? According to Associated Press, Mahmoud Abbas, peacekeeper that he is, is urging "militants" to refrain from terrorist attacks. Well, that's what the AP headline says, anyway. What does the article say?:

Abbas Urges Militants to Hold Their Fire

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday denounced a deadly Israeli arrest raid that killed five Palestinians, calling it an intentional provocation aimed at undermining a six-month cease-fire, but he urged militant groups to hold their fire.

Militants vowed to renew attacks on Israel, a move that would undercut the good will that resulted from an Israeli pullout from 25 Jewish settlements in Gaza and part of the West Bank.

Following Tuesday's completion of the most important stage of the pullout — evacuating settlers — violence flared in three places. A rocket fired from Lebanon exploded in an Israeli village just across the border Thursday, causing some damage but no casualties.

Late Wednesday, Israeli forces raided the Tulkarem refugee camp in the West Bank, killing five Palestinians, at least three of them armed. A few hours before that, a Palestinian stabbed two young Jewish men in the Old City of Jerusalem, killing one and seriously wounding the other.

Abbas blamed Israel for inciting the sudden escalation with its deadly raid in Tulkarem. "This murder intentionally aims at renewing the vicious cycle of violence," he said.

So, let's see, a rocket is fired into Israel. Two Jews are stabbed and one is dead, but Abbas blames the defensive action taken by Israel in retaliation for the "escalation" of violence. And the media writes it. Well, at least, they made the timeline clear.

But, I must admit, I am still wondering why this article is called "Abbas Urges Militants to Hold Their Fire." Well, I would imagine, we'll find out. Let's go on:

Raanan Gissin, an aide to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, responded that the Palestinians have failed to control militants. "We have transferred authority over this city of Tulkarem and the surrounding villages to the Palestinian Authority, and over a period of about three months, no action has been taken," Gissin said.

Yes, that's true. The Palestinians now have control over their state. They can do what they choose to do with it.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the department was still trying to get a clear picture of what happened in Tulkarem but stressed, "Israel has a right to defend itself."

Since Abbas and Sharon declared a cease-fire in February, the number of violent incidents plunged. However, both Hamas and Islamic Jihad have carried out attacks, claiming they were responding to Israeli violations.

Islamic Jihad sent a suicide bomber into Tel Aviv in February and another into Netanya in July. Five Israelis were killed in each attack. The cell's leadership was traced to the Tulkarem area, and Israel has been hunting its members, claiming that even under the truce, it has the right to take defensive measures.

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said the arrest raid targeted those fugitives. "This was an operation against a 'ticking bomb,'" he told Israel TV. "They were planning a suicide bombing attack in Israel."

Palestinians said the Israelis opened fire first, and Mofaz did not deny that. "Weapons were drawn on the soldiers and gunfire resulted," he said.

According to Palestinian witnesses, young Palestinians were sitting outdoors, snacking on sunflower seeds and chatting with a well-known militant leader, when undercover Israeli troops jumped out of a Mercedes. Witnesses said soldiers ordered everyone to stand up and shined a red laser at the group before opening fire.

"A car came, and armed men got out and shot toward us. I was hit in the shoulder," said Samer Murai, 15. He said a gunfight followed, and several of his friends were wounded.

About 4,000 people attended a funeral for the five. Gunmen fired in the air, and many residents accused Israel of destroying the calm that prevailed during the Gaza pullout.

Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades vowed revenge.

"The Zionists should prepare ... bags to collect the remains of their soldiers and settlers because we are going to hit in the depths of the entity," said Abu Abdullah, an Islamic Jihad commander in the Gaza Strip.

Hours later, militants fired two homemade rockets from Gaza into southern Israel, the army said, the first such attack since Israel began its pullout from Gaza on August 15. There were no injuries or damage.

A local militant group said the rocket fire was retaliation for the Tulkarem raid, Israel Radio reported. After sunset, hundreds of Islamic Jihad militants marched in Gaza City and Khan Younis, pledging revenge.

At midday Thursday, a rocket fired from Lebanon exploded in Margaliot, an Israeli farming village on the border. The rocket damaged a chicken coop, but no one was hurt.

Army Radio reported it was the first time such a rocket has been fired at an Israeli community since Israel ended its 18-year occupation of south Lebanon in 2000. Israeli security officials have been warning that militant groups in Lebanon might try to heat up the border area during Israel's pullout from Gaza and part of the West Bank.

The Jewish seminary student killed in the Jerusalem stabbing attack was buried Thursday. He was identified as Shmuel Matt, 21, a British citizen. A second student, Sammy Weissbard, 20, from New York, was wounded.

Well, that's the whole article. I didn't edit or expurgate it. I didn't see anything in that article about Abbas urging militants to hold their fire. I wouldn't be surprised if he did say it, after all, he has said it before. Not that it caused militants to hold their fire or anything, but he has said it.

But, gosh, I really wouldn't know what to think, if he had said it. Because, just the other day, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei sat down with the leaders of various Palestinian groups and cleared way for terror ops against Israel:

TEL AVIV – Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and members of various Palestinian terror groups this week decided at a meeting "resistance" against Israel would continue and would be coordinated at the national level until the Jewish state evacuates "all territories," WND has learned.

Earlier this week, it was reported Qurei held a private conference in Damascus with leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. According to media reports, the parties reached an agreement under which the PA would not attempt to disarm the terror groups in spite of recent U.S. and Israeli calls for the groups to be dismantled after the Gaza evacuation.

But security sources close to the meeting told WND agreements reached at the conference went one step further – it was concluded the Palestinians would continue to use "resistance" against Israel until the Jewish state leaves "all occupied territories" – code for the destruction of Israel. The resistance, the sources said, is to be coordinated between the Palestinian groups and based on the foundations of Palestinian unity.

So, you can see why Israel wanted to get out of Gaza. You know, because, like, the Palestinians seem to want to kill them.

But, now that they are out of Gaza, are the Palestinians happy? Hell no. They are angry:

Palestinians fear Gaza health crisis after Israeli pullout.

GAZA CITY (AFP) - Palestinian medical experts fear a looming health crisis after Israel’s pullout from the Gaza Strip unless patients are guaranteed access to life-saving treatment beyond the territory.

While Israel regards its departure from Gaza as signalling the end of its 38-year occupation, the Palestinians argue that Israel will remain an occupying power as long as it retains control of its borders and is thus still obliged to meet the health needs of the local population.

“I fear a worsening of the health situation after the withdrawal from Gaza as a result of the Israeli cordon,” said Dr Majdi Ashur, president of the Palestinian relief committees.

“Israel is refusing to recognise its obligations as a continuing occupation power by meeting basic health needs of the population and we do not foresee a resumption of proper freedom of movement in the short term,” he told AFP.

You see, they have been used to being able to access the superior health care services provided by Israel. Now, they will have to rely on the healthcare services of the Peaceful State of Palestine. I guess I'd be angry too.

But, that's not all they are angry about. No, no, no. They are also pissed because they can't seem to figure out what they are going to do for work now that the Jews won't be employing them anymore:

Gaza father wonders when work will come

Al-Maghazi Refugee Camp, Gaza Strip -- Outside the concrete walls that surround Badran Jamil Ahmed Abumansi's home, historic changes are taking place.

Jewish settlers have been uprooted from their homes in the Gaza Strip -- the first time since 1982, when Israel gave control of the Sinai Peninsula back to Egypt, that Israel has dismantled settlements and surrendered the land where they sat. Palestinian leaders are outlining plans to build homes and factories on the land.

Yet in Abumansi's home, the only thing happening is that the sun is setting on another day without work. He sits under a tree behind his home in the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza, children swarming around him, simply waiting. He wonders how he will be able to support the family that depends on him, an extended family that numbers about 45 souls.

"I wouldn't exclude any kind of job," he says. "Just give it to me. "The children are in school, and there are a lot of expenses. I am waiting to know what will happen after disengagement. I hope the situation gets better and I can go to work."

So far, it has gotten worse.

That's because Abumansi, 38, like hundreds of thousands among the 1.3 million Palestinians living in Gaza, has been dependent economically on the state of Israel.

In 1991, during the first Palestinian intifada -- the uprising began in Gaza in 1987 -- one-third of employed Palestinians worked in Israel, according to the World Bank. By 2003, during the second intifada, that figure had dropped to just 9 percent.

For 20 years, Abumansi, was one of the fortunate ones.

In 1985, when the Tel Aviv chocolate factory where he worked with his father and brothers went out of business, Abumansi quickly found a job doing anything that needed doing at a Tel Aviv restaurant where he used to have lunch.

Since then, he has struggled to maintain his precarious economic hold, adapting his schedule to accommodate the ever-growing security restrictions imposed on Palestinian workers by Israeli authorities, who say the measures are required to stop Gaza-based terrorists from entering Israel.

Abumansi's life had a routine. At about 9 o'clock every evening, he would head for Erez crossing, the primary portal for Gaza workers heading to Israel. He liked to be the first in line heading through the checkpoint -- to be further back in line, he feared, could make him miss the window when the checkpoint is open to employees or could make him late for work.

He would sleep at the checkpoint, lying on a piece of cardboard on the concrete blocks that line the long echoing passageway leading to Israel. Long before dawn, he would pass through the checkpoint, catching a bus to arrive at his job by about 3:30 a.m.

At the end of his workday, around noon, he would reverse the process, arriving at home around 5 p.m. And a few hours after that, he would start the process all over again.

It didn't leave much room for a life. His wife, Maha, worried about the toll it took on his family -- their six children -- and on his health.

Earlier this summer, Abumansi's luck ran out.

On June 19, a 21-year-old Palestinian woman was caught at the Erez crossing wearing explosives under her clothing. Investigators said she planned to detonate herself inside a Beersheba hospital. Israeli officials closed the crossing immediately -- and it has remained closed ever since.

A lot of people are responsible for his dilemma, Abumansi said. There is the Palestinian Authority, which he feels has done too little to help the people of Gaza. The closest they came so to helping him directly, he said, was when they gave out 100-shekel notes to voters on election day.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has promised large-scale development in the wake of Israel's disengagement and has said he looks forward to the day when no Palestinian will work outside of Palestinian land. Abumansi snorts at the idea of an economic divorce from the Jewish state.

"Give me a job, and I will talk like them," he said, sarcasm in his voice.

So, you see, Abumansi wants a job in Israel in the worst way. But, that doesn't stop him from threatening them:

"If Israel opens its doors for the workers, no suicide bombers will come through, but if it keeps it closed, then operations will happen," he said.

Abumansi's face was a mask of frustration.

Yeah, well, so is mine.