The abduction and Murder of Palestinian Real Estate Agents
In the past month, the Middle East has been witnessing a disturbing phenomenon: three Palestinian individuals were murdered in the Jerusalem and Ramallah areas, for what would, anywhere else in the world, be considered normal business activity – selling real estate. The three murders took place under similar circumstances, with two of the bodies having been found within 200 meters of one another. Shortly following these murders, the Israel Police managed to foil the attempted abduction of a fourth person, an incident which might have otherwise ended in an additional murder.
What these criminal acts have in common is the profession of their victims – all four men were involved in real estate transactions with Israelis. It should also be noted that two of the murder victims were Palestinians holding Israeli identity cards, as is the individual whose abduction was prevented.
Regretfully, these heinous abductions and murders were preceded and given justification by numerous public statements by high-ranking Palestinian Authority officials. These statements not only advocated restricting the sale of land to Israelis, but expressly prohibited it, spelling out the punishments to be inflicted for the violation of such a ban. In a number of cases, such land transactions were even declared by officials to be an act of treason, punishable by death.
This is an intolerable situation, especially when such statements are issued by the very people entrusted with maintaining law and order in the Palestinian Authority. Inciting remarks made by Palestinian officials provided clear moral legitimation for subsequent abductions and vicious assassinations. The situation, however, is even graver: Not only did the heads of the Palestinian Authority legitimize murder without trial and in flagrant violation of human rights and the rule of law. An attempt has also been made to assault the very fundamentals of the peace process – the efforts to foster trust and cooperation, and to create a basis for living together in mutual interaction.
Israel is appalled by these murders, and demands that the head of the Palestinian Authority Yasser Arafat ensure that they are stopped. Israel expects a public and unequivocal denunciation of these acts by the Palestinian Authority.
These murders arouse the anger and indignation of all those who place high value on peace and human rights, and the phenomenon deserves to be condemned publicly as a dangerous and criminal threat to both.