June 3, 2001
Palestinian factions said after Sunday’s special
meeting called to discuss President Yasser Arafat’s ceasefire pledge that they
had a right to pursue their uprising against Israeli occupation.
“Our people have a right to defend themselves against aggression,
occupation and settlements, and to pursue the popular Intifada (uprising) as a
legitimate means against the continuing occupation of our land and to achieve
our national rights,” the 14 factions said in a statement.
The meeting in Gaza was attended by the 12 factions of the Palestine
Liberation Organisation, including Arafat’s Fatah movement, as well as
the militant Muslim organisations Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
The statement made no direct reference to Arafat’s promise on Saturday
to do his utmost to achieve an immediate and unconditional ceasefire in eight
months of violence with Israel.
He made the pledge after a Palestinian suicide bombing that killed 20
people in Tel Aviv on Friday raised the spectre of strong Israeli military
The statement said the factions “call on our people to continue popular
demonstrations to reiterate the continuation of the popular nature of the
Palestinians, the statement added, should unite and be in a “state of full
alert” to prepare for any Israeli military escalation.
Earlier, Palestinian security officials said they had told all Palestinian
factions the Palestinian Authority would not tolerate any further attacks inside
Many Palestinians oppose suicide attacks in Israel that kill Israeli civilians,
but say they approve of targeting soldiers and Jewish settlers living illegally on
occupied land in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
There was no immediate Israeli comment on the factions’
But Israel has reacted with scepticism to the Palestinian ceasefire moves,
calling Arafat’s call for a cessation of violence vague and noting that militants
had not been rounded up.
Arutz Sheva News Service, June 3, 2001
Yasser Arafat ordered his police late last night to “take all steps to enforce a
ceasefire” – but his underlings either didn’t get the message or assumed he
didn’t really mean it.
A self-described “coalition of national and Islamic groups” decided today
that the intifada will continue; 13 organizations, including Fatah, Hamas and the
Islamic Jihad, were represented. Hamas and Fatah announced that they have
the right to continue to “defend themselves,” and Hamas political leader Khaled
Mash’al said that the attacks would not stop “until the Zionist invasion is
Tanzim head Marwan Bargouti said today, “The intifada and the armed
resistance will continue for as long as even one settler or one soldier remains in
the conquered Palestinian territories.”
After the publication of the Palestinian decision, Israel announced that it would
reinstate its policy of initiating military actions against terrorist leaders and
infrastructures, “in accordance with the conditions that have been created.”
The army will respond to Friday’s suicide terrorist slaughter “when it becomes
effective to do so, and the reprisal will not be limited to the bombing of empty
buildings.” So reported Israel Radio this evening.
The government had earlier said that it was allowing a “few hours”to see
if Arafat’s words would be backed up by actions. It is assumed that no actual
military response is close to being carried out – partly because of Arafat’s
announcement, and party because there has been a mass flight of PA leaders
into hiding in fear of the Israeli response.
Arafat’s original “ceasefire” announcement yesterday appeared to be a result of
his fear that Israel’s retaliation was finally about to rain down on him, following
the suicide slaughter in Tel Aviv on Friday night. The bomber detonated himself
shortly after 11 PM outside a Tel Aviv nightclub, killing 17 young people on the
spot. Two more have since died of their wounds, and another two or three are
in very critical condition. Close to 100 people were injured. Most of the dead
were immigrant teenagers from the former Soviet Union.
At today’s Cabinet meeting, Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer said that there had
been a “toning down” of the PA media’s incitement today. Prime Minister
Sharon said that Arafat’s ceasefire announcement and any toning-down of
incitement are just “tactics” by Arafat, in fear of an Israeli military response.
Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch discussed with Arutz-7 today
whether there has been a noticeable change in Palestinian broadcasts:
“This morning, Friday’s terrorist attack was condemned. But regarding
incitement, hate songs are still being broadcast on TV, calling for martyrdom
and hitting the ‘Zionist enemy.’
Even more significant, though,is the fact that in the official PA
newspaper, Al Hayat al-Jadida, the first page mentions Arafat’s call for a
ceasefire – flavored with an attack on Ariel Sharon for violating his own
self-proclaimed ceasefire – but then on the second page, there is an ad from the
“National and Islamic Forces” This is the name of the umbrella organization of
Fatah, Hamas,Force 17, etc., and its ad says that the intifada will “continue
until victory,” “Long live the intifada,” and the like…
In short, on the first page you have Arafat telling the whole world that
he has ordered a ceasefire, but on the second page of the official PA organ – in
which everything is published only with Arafat’s approval – you have everything
continuing as usual, with the same militant calls for the continuation of the
intifada and the like…”
Marcus also noted the significance of the an attack on new Russian immigrants
“The topic of Russian immigration to Israel is something that greatly
occupies Palestinian attention. This is because the Arabs have a demographic
plan to, within a few decades, outnumber the Jewish population,based on
simple calculations of their much higher birthrate than the Jews. But they feel
that the immigration from other countries will mess up their plans.
In an article in the official Al Hayat al-Jadida a few months ago, a clear
call for terrorist attacks against the Russian immigrants was published: “We
must choose targets that will cause them death and fear… that will lose them
sleep and give them all sorts of torture. We long for the tears of the prostitutes
of Tel Aviv who came from Russia and elsewhere, and that their mothers’
hearts will burn… We must transfer the war to the lands of the enemy – if we
may use this phrase, with the knowledge that all of Palestine is conquered, and
the time has come for us to wake up and fight them on every centimeter – let’s
move the fight to the land that has been conquered since 1948.”
Marcus concluded that Friday night’s attack shows that the Palestinians
were quite serious in their threats.