March 03, 2002
At least 18 Israelis, four of them children, were murdered in Arab terror attacks
beginning with a post-Sabbath Saturday night bombing in a crowded Jerusalem
neighborhood and continuing with terror strikes in Judea and Gaza.
It was one of the worst 12-hour periods of terror during the current
Palestinian-Israeli war of attrition, and there was every sign that the violence
would get worse as Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority signaled its strong
support for the attacks on the Israelis.
“The name of the shaheed (martyr) who carried out the operation was
Muhammad Ahmad Darawna,” announced Arafat’s Voice of Palestine in an
almost celebratory manner, opening its Sunday morning (March 3) news
broadcasts. It was referring to the man who blew himself up in Jerusalem,
killing nine Israeli civilians, four of them children, Saturday night.
The bomber’s actions were greeted with a joyous street procession in the
Duheishe Refugee Camp where he lived, as well as in the streets of Ramallah,
but these marches did not seem to be the ringing signs of support that Arafat’s
Palestinian Authority (PA) had been trying to mobilize.
The PA declared Sunday “a day of solidarity with martyrs” – something it had
also declared for Friday (March 1), but with little effect.
Arafat’s regime also called for a five-minute period of silence at noon to mark
the deaths of the Palestinian fighters killed in fighting with Israeli forces in the
Balatta and Jenin Refugee Camps over the last four days.
It has been clear that the PA was surprised by the generally weak resistance
inside the camps, as it has been disappointed by weak public Palestinian
political support and even weaker support from the Arab states.
Perhaps as an effort to buttress its diplomatic goals, the PA published a pro
forma condemnation of the Saturday night bomb attack several hours after it
had taken place.
“An official statement” issued after midnight which was broadcast Sunday
morning “condemned and condemns all terror against civilians,” – an apparent
attempt to curry favor with the Israeli Left and some Western governments who
have insisted that Arafat stop and condemn terror.
But it was clear that the “official condemnation” was nothing more than lip
service, because it once again refused to classify any Arab act as “terror” while
specifically and repeatedly blaming the Israeli government for “its terroristic
Throughout its Sunday morning broadcasts, VOP hosted speakers who spoke of
“the Sharonite terror,” “Sharon’s terror,” “the zionist enemy” and “zionist
terrorism”-throwbacks to the Palestinian rhetoric before Israel and the
Palestinians began signing agreements-collectively known as The Oslo Accords
— in 1993.
A group of Palestinian snipers ambushed a convoy of Israeli soldiers and
civilians early Sunday north of Jerusalem near the settlement of Ofra, killing at
least eight, and wounding more than a dozen others, including rescue crews
that attempted to take the wounded away in ambulances.
There were also two major attacks on convoys in the Gaza Strip and a major
infiltration into Israel’s Negev region-part of more than 50 serious Palestinian
attacks in a 24-hour period.
The worst such attack, however, was when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew
himself up Saturday night in the crowded Jerusalem neighborhood throwing
himself on top of several families who had gathered together to celebrate the
bar mitzva of one of the children.
Flames from the blast engulfed nearby cars and buildings as the force of the
blast was actually amplified by the crowded streets in the Beit Ysrael section of
Jerusalem, a religious area where people tend to walk the streets leisurely after
the Jewish Sabbath.
Nine people were killed, four of them children, and more than 60 were
wounded in what the Voice of Palestine described less than two hours later as
“amaliyyat istish-had” – “an operation of heroic martyrdom.”
The Voice of Palestine also hinted strongly that the people in the neighborhood
had, as it were, “gotten what they deserved” – a tactic it has used in the past
to describe attacks on Jewish settlements.
“This a neighborhood that is full of extremist Jews,” declared Muhammad
Abd-Rabbo, the VOP Jerusalem reporter.
“A man blew himself up next to a car in a neighborhood in which Jewish
extremists reside,” summarized VOP anchorwoman Samah Masar in later
The use of the term “neighborhood full of extremist Jews” was similar to the
Palestinian tactic after attacks on Jewish settlements when VOP customarily
reminds listeners that the settlements were “built on land taken from our
people.” The use of this locution for a neighborhood in West Jerusalem was
something new that may foretell expanded Palestinian violence.
Indeed, the VOP anchorwoman and Jerusalem reporter spoke of the “incident”
as occurring in “West Jerusalem” but referred to the area several times as
“occupied Jerusalem” as well.
For the last few weeks, Arafat’s state-run Palestinian media have stopped even
the pretense of condemning or criticizing even in English any attacks on Israeli
Not far from Arafat’s headquarters in Ramallah, north of Jerusalem, large
crowds of Palestinians celebrated the suicide attack in Jerusalem, and the
statements and policies of Arafat’s PA often seem indistinguishable from those
of the Islamic terror groups – HAMAS and Islamic Jihad.
“The only one responsible for the violence is the zionist terror state (Israel),”
declared Hassan Youssef, a leader of the HAMAS movement in the West Bank.
Elsewhere in Jerusalem, Palestinian gunners continued shooting from the
Bethlehem area into the neighborhood of Gilo where dozens of apartments have
been damaged and three people wounded over the last two days.