JERUSALEM–June 8, 2005– Voice of Palestine radio offered great air time Wednesday morning to charges that Israeli jailers in the Megiddo Prison had deliberately desecrated three copies of the Quran, Islam’s scripture, by throwing the book on the floor during a search of Palestinian prisoners’ cells.

“Prisoners in Megiddo Prison began a three-day strike today to protest the desecration of the Holy Quran in the prison yesterday by Israeli security forces and police,” declared V.O.P. radio.

The new charges of Quran desecration come at a time that Israel has been charged with planning to desecrate Islamic holy sites, according to the Palestinian broadcast and print media directly controlled by Mahmoud Abbas, head of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The PA media and its mosque speakers often draw a direct parallel between “the American Occupation Army in Iraq” and “the Israeli Occupation Army,” strongly suggesting that both are enemies of Islam, while the Palestinian media and text books make fun of the idea that there was ever a Jewish temple in Jerusalem.

“Members of the police began hurling the copies of the Quran in front of the eyes of the prisoners,” Palestinian prisoners said, according to V.O.P. radio.

The truthfulness of the story, Palestinian state radio said, was vouched for by Israeli Arab MK Muhammad Baraka.

[Note-Israeli Arab MKs and the Israeli Islamic Movement had a major role in the outbreak of the current Palestinian-Israeli War of 2000-2005 (in which several thousand people have died) as well as the Temple Mount riots in 1996 (in which about 50 people died) after charges that Israel had desecrated the grounds of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The theme of Quran desecration has been an important motif in the Palestinian media in the last three weeks, since Newsweek Magazine charged American prison authorities with having desecrated the Quran in an American-run prison in Cuba. About 20 people died in riots following the Newsweek charges, that were later withdrawn -MW]

Earlier, V.O.P. radio opened its morning broadcasts with a re-run yesterday’s news that PA Prime Minister Ahmad Qreia (nicknamed Abu ‘Ala) had strongly condemned the Israeli policy of assassinations as carried out in Qabatya yesterday(V.O.P. radio, 8 a.m.-Jerusalem Time).

Prime Minister Qreia called for international intervention to stop Israeli war crimes, specifying intervention by the “Quartet”-the US, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

Once again V.O.P. identified the dead men as Murawah Kmeil and Nasser Abdel-Rahim Zakarna, and it pronounced them martyrs.

“This is a serious and direct danger to the tahdiyya,” V.O.P. radio quoted Qreia, referring to the so-called Palestinian “cooling-off period” of not attacking Israelis.

In its fifth news item, V.O.P. reported that the PA Interior Ministry had published a statement calling for all Palestinian groups to observe the tahdiyya for the sake of Palestinian national interests and national unity.

In its sixth item, V.O.P. morning news hinted at the four rocket attacks on Sderot inside Israel yesterday when, citing “Israeli military sources,” it mentioned that an Arab worker, identified as Salah Mraneh, was killed when another rocket landed on an Israeli “colony” in Gaza. V.O.P. also told its listeners that a rocket killed another man-a Chinese worker. It did not tell its listeners that two Palestinian Arab workers had died in the attack, but it reported that the attack was carried out by Islamic Jihad. There was no condemnation or criticism of this action.

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