JERUSALEM–May 5, 2005

The official Palestinian Authority (PA) media opened their reports Thursday with a slashing attack on Israel for “deliberately killing” two Palestinian youths yesterday as part of an intentional Israeli plan to bust the Palestinian-Israeli ceasefire.

The Palestinian broadcast media, quoting a spokesman for PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, said that Israel planned the deaths of ‘Uday ‘Aasi, 15, and Jamal ‘Aasi, 17 who were killed when attacking fence-building operations near Beit Liqiyya.

“The two youths were martyred heroically when the Israeli Occupation Army fired its weapons at them in the village of Beit Liqiyya north west of Ramallah when they opposed Israeli bulldozers building the racist separation fence. Glory and eternity to our immaculate martyrs.” (PBC 7 a.m.)

The Palestinian media said that a spokesman for PA president Mahmoud Abbas condemned the “war crime” as “an intentional escalation which was designed to destroy the ‘hudna,’ and it will bring forth reactions.”

Neither the Palestinian media nor Palestinian officials specified what “reactions” might be forthcoming.

Israeli Maj. Gen. Ya’ir Naveh suspended the Israeli army commander at the scene of the shooting, pending completion of an investigation of whether the soldiers were justified in shooting at the men who attacked them with rocks.

“The Israeli government is not carrying out its agreements to withdraw from our cities, to release our prisoners, and it is building a barrier fence on our lands,” declared a statement by the presidential spokesman read on PBC television and Voice of Palestine (V.O.P.) radio.

“The Israeli government is sending a message of terrorism to us,” reported Khalil Abu-Arab, the V.O.P. correspondent in Ramallah during a report Thursday morning, using the term “irhaab” (terror) repeatedly, a term which is not employed in the Palestinian media to describe Palestinian actions.

Meanwhile, the head of Israeli military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Aharon Ze’evi (Farkash) has spent the last two days trying to send a message of conciliation and optimism. In an interview on Voice of Israel radio, Gen. Zeevi said he believed that PA leader Abbas was working hard to curb Palestinian violence and to collect arms held by Palestinian terror groups.

Gen. Ze’evi made similar comments in a cabinet briefing yesterday, but his conclusions and analysis were challenged strongly by Avi Dichter, the head of the “Shabak” or “Shin-Bet,” Israel’s domestic intelligence service. They have also been challenged by Israeli army chief of staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, but both Dichter and Ya’alon are being pushed out of their jobs within a few weeks.

An Israeli sergeant, Dan Telesnikov, was killed by Islamic Jihad terrorists in Tulkarm, a Palestinian city where the PA leadership was supposed to have disarmed insurgents several weeks ago, and there is considerable discomfort in the Israeli army about the politicization of intelligence reporting and operations.

Gen. Ze’evi and several analysts vetted by him have contended that the PA has also sharply curtailed Palestinian incitement against Israelis such as stopping “martyr films.”

However, the official Palestinian radio and television outlets have actually stepped up incitement in several ways such as through the broadcasting of virulent mosque speeches, embracing terrorists as “martyrs” and derogatory references to “the Tel Aviv government.”

[Background Note: “Hudna” is a temporary ceasefire between a Muslim and a non-Muslim, but the PA and the Hamas have consistently used the term “tahdiyya” which means even less-a partial “lull” or “cooling-off”. Abbas holds the title of chairman of the PLO and president or chairman of the Palestinian Authority ].

Report compiled by Michael Widlanski Associates.
Commissioned by the Center for Near East Policy Research.

[Permission to quote or reprint from article conditional on citing Michael Widlanski or Michael Widlanski Associates.]

Dr. Michael Widlanski is a specialist in Arab politics and communication whose doctorate dealt with the Palestinian broadcast media. He is a former reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively, at The New York Times,The Cox Newspapers-Atlanta Constitution, and The Jerusalem Post.

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