The official Palestinian news service charged Thursday that Israel deliberately killed “an aged woman” with an American-made “radiation” machine designed to detect bombs and guns.
The item re-appeared today on the front page of Al-Hayat-Al-Jadeeda, a Palestinian newspaper controlled directly by Mahmoud Abbas’s FATAH faction of the PLO.
It was only the latest example of the atrocity story motif, that has included phony reports of deliberate Israeli murders of Palestinian children, which has come to typify Palestinian incitement against Israel and America under the new regime of Dr. Abbas who succeeded Yasser Arafat as the Palestinian leader.
“An aged woman died late on Wednesday at the Rafah crossing after being subjected to the Israeli radioactive detection device installed at the Rafah crossing to screen Palestinian travelers,” asserted the official WAFA news agency controlled by PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
“Medics at Rafah said that the 55-year-old Fatema Abu Ubeid, of Rafah, died 15 minutes after she was subjected to the radial spy machine [sic] (axtrai) [sic], which Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) set up for searching the Palestinian passengers passing through the point,” declared the WAFA bulletin on its English language website.
The report also appeared earlier in WAFA’s Arabic language site (used by Palestinian newspapers, radio and television), and it continued to be displayed on the site today (Friday, April 29, 2005).
The strong charges are part of a consistent campaign this week by the Palestinian media against the use of advanced radio-wave machines at border checkpoints, following the Palestinian closure of their side of the border checkpoint in Gaza this week for several hours to protest.
“The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) decided on Tuesday to close Rafah cross point in a protest against Israeli use of a radiation device for searching the Palestinian travelers,” declared the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds in a front page story Wednesday (April 27), echoing the WAFA report in Arabic.
The device in question, according to Israeli security officials, is actually the SafeView Millimeter Wave Radar – an American made “advanced portal using millimeter wave holographic technology to screen passengers for weapons and explosives.”
In addition to pressuring Israel to stop using the advanced non-radiation detection machine, the Palestinian charges fit the new, somewhat more sophisticated pattern of propaganda used in the last four months under the regime of Dr. Abbas.
Unlike the propaganda of the Arafat period, the official Palestinian media-particularly the official television from Gaza-have largely stopped directly encouraging young boys to become “martyrs” through the airing of sexually suggestive or gory film montages and heated music videos and audio compilations.
However, under Dr. Abbas, the Palestinian media have actually stepped up the use of incendiary mosque speeches broadcast on Palestinian radio and television-where both Israel and America are regularly attacked–as well as increased use of code-words in Arabic such as “resistance operations” to describe attacks on Israelis.
During the Arafat regime, Arafat himself, his wife and the Palestinian media frequently accused Israel of using “radioactive weapons” against the Palestinians such as “Uranium artillery shells” and “uranium bullets,” as well as “poison gas.”
Suha Arafat, who inherited some of Arafat’s hidden money, accused Israel of deliberately poisoning Palestinian water supplies, and this theme, too, has re-surfaced periodically–in Palestinian newspapers and Palestinian radio–since Abbas succeeded Arafat as PLO chairman in December and as PA chairman in January.
Dr. Abbas, who studied at the KGB-run Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow in the 1980’s, has been credited by both Western and Israeli media with having tamed the incitement in the Palestinian press, but since his election in January he has generally avoided condemning violence against Israeli targets.
After several Palestinian rockets fell in Israel this week, Dr. Abbas called the attacks a “deviation” from the “Palestinian consensus” and “contrary to Palestinian interests,” but he did not condemn the attack or the attackers, despite reports to the contrary in the Western and Israeli press.
Dr. Michael Widlanski teaches political communication and comparative politics at the Rothberg School of Hebrew University. His doctorate, “Palestinian Broadcast Media In the Palestinian State-Building Process: Patterns of Influence and Control,” was based on eight years of research involving more than 7,000 hours of monitoring Palestinian radio in Arabic as well as television and newspaper surveys. Widlanski was the NYTimes campus correspondent at Columbia University, 1974-1976, a reporter-researcher in the NYTimes Jerusalem bureau, 1980-82, Middle East Correspondent for The Cox Newspapers/Atlanta Constitution/Boston Globe, 1982-89.