[What is not reported herein is that the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of the Fatah movement, is also chaired by Machmud Abbas, which would belie the moderate image bestowed on Abbas by the Israeli and American governments – db]

The van was hot and stuffy, made even more uncomfortable by the fact CNN cameraman Adil Bradlow and I were wedged between masked gunmen in full battle gear, their index fingers tensely stroking the triggers of their AK-47 assault rifles.

We were on our way to see a rocket workshop run by the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of the Fatah movement.

I got to the rocket makers through an old acquaintance in Gaza. To protect his identity, I’ll call him Majid. A journalist, Majid has the numbers of all Gaza’s factions, parties, politicians, warlords, thugs, crooks and freelance gunmen.

“I’ll call you in a few hours,” Majid told me, drawing on the Marlboro permanently wedged between his lips.

Two hours later, he called. “Be at your office at exactly 10 o’clock tomorrow morning,” he said. He didn’t tell me for what, and I didn’t ask. I knew. (Watch the action inside a secret rocket factory — 3:04)

I didn’t mention what I was trying to arrange to anyone — not CNN’s assignment editors, not our Jerusalem bureau, not even Adil, my cameraman who was hoping for a day off after two weeks in Gaza covering clashes and chaos. Gaza is crawling with informants, collaborators and spies, so the less anyone knows about your plans, the better.

But bumping along in the cramped van, none of my precautions made me feel any better. Israeli helicopters and unmanned aircraft frequently “take out” anyone associated with the missiles.

With sweat trickling down my back and as I looked around the van crammed with gunmen, it occurred to me I might be a little too “close” to the story.

After about 15 minutes our van stopped and the door opened. Adil and I were motioned into the back of a smaller van. A tall, heavyset man with a thick black beard, black combat fatigues and an M-16 rifle with a sniper scope got in with us.

“Put these over your heads,” he said, picking up three black hoods, “and keep your heads down.”

I hesitated. Less than two years ago in Gaza, gunmen stopped a taxi I was riding in and abducted CNN producer Riyadh Ali, as one of the kidnappers held a gun to my face. (Riyadh was released 24 hours later.) I didn’t think I was being kidnapped this time. But I didn’t like the feeling.

If they stop stirring… it will explode With memories of Riyadh’s kidnapping running through my mind, I heard the door of the van slam shut, and off we went. After 20 minutes, we stopped. Metal gates screeched open, then closed. The van door opened, and we were told to take off our masks.

We were in a cramped compound covered in green plastic sheeting, bathing everything in an eerie green glow. This must have been to protect the workshop from the prying eyes of Israeli aircraft — and nosey neighbors.

The big man with the beard introduced us to a young man in faded jeans, a black vest and a black hood over his head by the name of “Abu Ahmed,” or “Father of Ahmed.” He didn’t volunteer his real name.

Ahmed was all business. With cold professionalism, he explained in minute detail the entire process of how they make the rockets.

First we crowded into a small room with breeze-block walls and a corrugated tin roof. This was where aluminum was melted down then poured into molds for the nozzle of the rocket, the tip and the other parts.

We then went into a room where two men — dressed in black overalls and, again, with black hoods over their heads — sat hunched over a gas burner, stirring a white powder in a large stainless steel pot.

This was the rocket propellant. Ahmed would not tell me the ingredients because, in his words, “the enemy is always on the look out to stop us from getting the materials.”

But he said almost all the inputs come from Israel. The only thing that’s smuggled in is the TNT for the warhead, which comes through the network of tunnels dug under the border between Gaza and Egypt.

The two men took turns stirring the white powder over the fire. If they stop stirring, Ahmed said, it will explode.

No mercy for school children This group makes three kinds of rockets: The biggest is the so-called Aqsa 103 has a maximum range of 14 kilometers, or 8.5 miles, and carries 6 kilograms of TNT.

With one of his comrades, Ahmed showed us packets of iron shards they pack into rocket warheads for extra lethal effect.

One of these missiles recently slammed into a school classroom in the nearby Israeli town of Sderot, a frequent target of the militants. The students were in another room at prayer at the time and no one was injured. Their teacher, for good reason, called it a miracle.

Ahmed was proud — not ashamed — that his missile had hit the school. These are not men who agonize over the morality of violence. Every mention of Israeli civilian casualties triggers a response stressing Palestinian civilian casualties.

In this region where the concept of an “eye-for-an-eye” was invented, the stark arithmetic of which side kills more is oft quoted. “Turn the other cheek” and “love thy enemy” never caught on.

Since the start of the second intifada in September 2000, Palestinian groups have fired more than 5,000 rockets into Israel, or into Gaza settlements before the Jews left. Those missiles killed 13 civilians and two soldiers.

To stop the rocket attacks, the Israeli army regularly bombards areas near the border in northern Gaza. They’ve dropped thousands of rounds since the beginning of the year, killing, according to Palestinian medical sources, at least six Palestinians — most of them civilians –in the process.

Our visit to the missile workshop was cut short. An Israeli unmanned aircraft was droning overhead, and farther away we heard what sounded like a warplane — Adil said it seemed like an F-16.

We were hurriedly ushered into the van, hoods put back on our heads. My discomfort with being “too close” to the story flared up again.

I was glad to have a good story, even gladder we were leaving it.


  1. I fail to see why one should find the grey areas, the balanced things to say about nazis.
    Islam was an ally of the nazis and is today their inheritor.
    B"H, once I got to the end of the article I saw that its author wasn’t David Bedein, which had escaped my attention in the beginning. I was in fact very surprised by the superficiality and plethora of common places expressed in it.

  2. This is one of the most inaccurate, morally disgraceful, historically and ethically appeasing hit pieces of late, and it’s in ‘Israel Resource Review’ of all places. It is merely insipid… and pure disingenuous relativism, glossed with sanctimony with a gossamer warning to ‘Just Say no to Hate’. Unbelievable.

    As a source, she quotes a NY Times reporter ( And what an authoritative source those writers have proven to be) describing Gabriel as a ‘radical Islamophobe’, and mentions Gabriel as describing the arab world as ‘barbaric’.
    And the Arab culture is not ‘barbaric’?? It is medieval in many ways and mores, and the theology is the source, and no that doesn’t describe people, it describes the culture across the vast swarth of arab nations that indeed have vast amounts of barbarity directed against ‘others’ and even their own- separate groups, with war being an all too constant occurrence in that world. Should I make an entire list of what that means, or perhaps the rapes of those women in egypt by crowds of ‘arab men’ as is quite and all too common in ‘arab lands’ during their ‘democracy’ riots need to be mentioned, or does blowing up infidels, and each other, as the love of death and the promise of eternal virgins and wine need to be explained, along with whole nations of arabian theologians commanding such in their political missives to their populations.

    She called Barack Obama an anti-semite. Tough words and accusation, but how odd- to think that Obama sat thru 18 years of his spiritual leader Rev Wright, who is a known jew and Israel despiser- an anti-semite, and claims he didn’t ever hear anything like that from him in 18 yrs. Even when there are recordings of this plain to hear and see.
    To see what Obama’s done in 3.5 yrs, in toto, now welcoming the muslim brotherhood and hamas to the White House, demanding their right to rule ‘democratically’ of course, when their stated political goal was the destruction of Israel, the US, and the destruction of the west, why it’s just unheard of to say that the man is an anti-semite. What a horrible thing to say.
    Tell me- did he ever threaten to take the US money away from Hamas in Gaza if any rockets were fired at innocent civilians as they have since Israel left all of Gaza? No. But he threatened to take al the money the US gives to the Egyptian Military if they didn’t let the muslim brotherhood candidate win his seat as president. And there’s more- much more.
    Gabriel is one of those blunt speakers who said what she did out of frankness and apparently factually evident after his term in office, not out of ‘hatred’, but of obviousness.
    Then Gabriel’s ‘Gross generalization’ was used by another cowardly JTA leader to say that they don’t want to generalize about ‘all arabs and muslims’ But that is NOT what Gabriel did, nor does.

    Her characterization is about Mohammed, his suras, the hadiths and the theology and history. That is what she is attacking and rightly so. That there are nice peoples who are muslims and arabs is a given. So- when jewish children were slaughtered say, in toulouse, France- the nice muslims joined in to worry about the possible Islamophobia, but where was the 50,000 people march demanding the end to slaughtering Jihad, to march against the savage, ‘barbaric’ homicidicsts who slaughtered children?
    they don’t march because they too would be targeted for death by ‘islam’ by the genuine believers of Mohammed, who have for 1400 yrs tolerated nothing less than their own savage tyranny over all others- worldwide.

    This is what Gabriel is speaking about. She doesn’t ‘hate’ ordinary muslims or think they are the problem but they are not the solution anymore than ordinary germans were in the 30’s and 40’s because the theology of national socialism rendered them irrelevant. Islam renders all others as ‘al-dhimma’ for which the only equivalent word in english would be the ‘N’ word. As for non monotheists, they are to be killed- kaffirs all. That is the Sharia of Mohammed and Islam. That a group of muslims might be embarrassed to hear this is well…. I’m sorry for their loss, but they are not being threatened with submission, with death, as are all others in ‘arab countries’. The coptic chrisitans are finished in Egypt, but apparently you don’t care. The Sudanese have murdered some two millions there- enslaved black christian and animist women and children and this goes on not just there- with Islamic support as it did when the OIC’s told the west and the UN that this was an internal muslim issue so we could mind our own businesses.

    But you… oh generous one, want to not have any such facts generated because sometimes the deck is stacked, and we wouldn’t want to make any muslims feel they don’t’ have a venue to speak or be heard.
    Oh, really. Well, the entire UN is stacked with this moral equivalence for the last 50 yrs, and now, the lovely democracies of Saudi Arabia- where the head cleric called last month for the destruction of all Christian churches, where China, that great bastion of human rights and individual liberty, where Syria, Turkey and Libya have held positions on the Human Rights Council but Israel is disallowed. And of course you know how that’s going.
    Israel is labeled utterly falsely as an apartheid state but the barbaric states where slaughters take place regularly are never challenged let alone mentioned.
    But… the author feels we must be sweet and never think ill in public because there are shades of grey.
    I don’t find the author of this article generous, factually accurate, morally courageous- just a moral appeaser, a relativist who can’t make an assessment that would be accurate just, because it might somehow bespeak of ‘hate, racism, and incitement’. What cark. What drivel. She says-‘ Just say no to hate’
    As if THAT describe a women who grew up under the tyranny of Islam, knows the language, reported on it, wrote about it, describes it’s Sharia, it’s Theology and history and concludes that they are at war with all others. Gee…since Mohammed said that he was made great thru Terror, and that his only success came during the last nine years of his life when Jihad became the religious imperative of Islam, and the submission of all others, the cry, unto their deaths if they dared not submit.

    Now, the author preens about her generosity and tells Jews to keep their kishkes (guts) in check, because fear can breed intolerance.

    Let her dispute the theologic fact that Islam is the most intolerant religion on the face of the earth, That Islam, and Mohammed called for the submission of all others and their deaths if they didn’t, with muslims making a ‘truce’ only if they were too weak to accomplish that submission.

    The author is an intolerant appeaser, who hides behind self righteous moral, historical and ethical relativism, unable to accept certain factual realities, because they are uncomfortable for her kishkes. There have been 19,000 plus Jihad attacks across some 32 nations just since 9/11. I’m sorry that for ordinary muslims who just want to live
    that they come from this theology. But they have every right to continue to do so, in freedom, in the US, and Israel.
    Islam grants no such guarantee to non- muslims in ‘arab’ countries. And you won’t see marches of 50,000 muslims or arabs demanding the end to slaughters of non-muslims in any of those nations nor ours- even as pretense. The author’s article is shameless, cowardly and with discriminatory invective against an honest critic of Islam, in my view.

  3. What should be controversial about Brigette Gabriel merely speaking the truth about islam? Why is it that liberals never protest the "honor" murders, female genital mutitions, persecution and slaughter of non-muslims, the death penalty for apostates, the burning and bombing of churches by muslim mobs in Africa, the Jew-hatred and incitement to genocide of the Jew etc. There isn’t enough space to detail all the atrocities committed in the name of islam. Instead of protesting that, liberals protest against those like Brigette who speak out about it.

    Say no to hate? How about the most hateful ideology of all, islam.

  4. "Substitute the word Jew for every time she or he speaks about any other ethnic or religious group. If it fails the anti-Semitism test, take a pass."

    Wrong test. The real test should be: is what she’s saying true or false? If she’s lying then she’s a bigot. If she’s telling the truth, then we’d better listen. Don’t forget that anti-semitism is based on lies. I’m not so worried about being decent to people who wish to see me dead because I’m Jewish.


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