Palestinian terrorists staged a massive series of rocket and mortar attacks along Israel’s southern border in an apparent attempt to abduct another Israeli soldier, and Israeli army officers renewed their calls for a major Israeli retaliatory strike into Gaza.
“The ceasefire has been over for some time,” announced Abu Zubeida, the spokesman for the Hamas Islamic terror organization, and he explained that his organization was behind the more than 80 mortar and rocket impact points stretching from Sufa Junction on the Egyptian border to the Israeli port city of Ashkelon, south of Tel Aviv.
Abu Zubeida, speaking with a green mask on his face, told a press conference that Hamas wanted to force Israel to release hundreds of convicted Palestinian terrorists, but this position has also been supported by the Fatah organization of Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority and chairman of the PLO.
Through its press statements and propaganda messages, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been cheerleading the increasing terror attacks of the last three weeks in Gaza and the West Bank, and this same approach was evident after today’s attack.
“This is not a Palestinian problem but an Israeli problem because of the general Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people,” declared PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyyeh, who is also a leader of Hamas. There have been more than half a dozen shooting attacks on Israelis in the West Bank in the last week, and the tempo of rocket fire and mortar attacks from Gaza has increased steadily over the past month.
Official Palestinian broadcast media have sharply increased anti-Israeli propaganda in recent days, including explicit and implicit calls for suicide attacks on Israeli civilians and kidnappings of Israeli soldiers. “Oh, Lord, martyrdom is [being done] for you,” crooned a singer, while pictures of prominent Palestinian women suicide bombers, clad in white, floated beatifically across the screen.
It was part of a music video aired Sunday on the PBC television network under the direct control of Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO Chairman and Palestinian Authority leader. The same video had appeared in the past, but had disappeared after protests from Israel and the United States, but it has now returned, and it is not alone.
Voice of Palestine radio, also controlled by Dr. Abbas and his Fatah movement, have resumed regular airing of the song “Felastin Arabiyyeh” – Palestine is Arab – which includes specific praise for “martyrs” acting against “the cowardly enemy.”
And the broadcasts of PBC television and V.O.P. radio have for the last month left no doubt who that enemy is. It is Israel, which is increasingly called “al-‘udu al-sihiyouni” (The Zionist Enemy) or “al-kayaan al-sihyouni” (The Zionist Entity) or simply “al-‘udu” – The Enemy.
“The only language the enemy understands is force,” declared several different members of Abbas’ Palestinian Authority cabinet in broadcasts dedicated to “The Day of the Prisoner” in the last three days.
While PLO Chairman Abbas has told Israeli officials and American officials that he is working for the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Palestinian officials appearing before Palestinian audiences say that the Palestinians are entitled to use the “Zionist soldier” [Arabic-al-jundi al-sihyouni] to extricate thousands of convicted Arab terrorists from Israeli jails.
Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli towns in the Negev, such as on Sunday and Saturday, are ignored in the Palestinian media, while Israeli strikes at the rocket launchers or terrorists trying to infiltrate bombs into Israeli cities are regularly condemned as “aggression,” and the terrorists are lauded as “martyrs” and noble citizens.
“Nine more martyrs reached the heavens in the last 48 hours,” observed Voice of Palestinian radio, referring, in part, to a rocket crew that had attacked the Israeli town of Sderot, destroying a house.
“These are crimes against humanity,” declared Dr. Mustapha Barghouthi, the PA information minister, in a statement to the foreign press, referring to the Israeli “assassination” of members of the rocket crew in Gaza and armed terrorists in the West Bank towns of Nablus and Jenin.
There are also indications that mosque speeches broadcast by the PA media are turning back to the anti-Semitic themes which regularly appeared during the leadership of Yasser Arafat and the early leadership of Abbas, and it seems there is scant difference between the messages of Abbas’ Fatah movement and the Hamas movement.
In a mosque speech on March 30, Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan explicitly called for killing Jews, during a Friday prayer address at the Sheikh Zayad Bin-Sultan mosque in Gaza, citing a Hadith – or oral tradition – attributed to Muhammad, Islam’s founder:
“The Day of Judgment will not arrive until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, until the Jew hides behind the stones and the trees; and each stone or tree will say: Oh Muslim, Oh servant of God, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him; except for the gharqad, which is the tree of the Jews.”
The upsurge in official Palestinian hate messages against Israelis dovetails with a sharp rise in rocket attacks and attempted suicide bomb attacks against Israeli targets.
A Palestinian truck bomb laden with more than 100 kilograms of explosives blew up accidentally in the West Bank town of Qalqilya early this month, after the suicide bomber drove into Tel Aviv and returned for no apparent reason, according to Israeli security officials.
Israeli forces subsequently arrested 19 members of the Hamas movement that was allegedly behind the planned attack.
Israeli Army intelligence reported that during the second half of March, there was an increase in the number of rockets fired at Israeli settlements in the western Negev (22 confirmed rocket strikes), following a relative reduction in attacks of the first two weeks of March (12 confirmed rocket impact points).
Dr. Michael Widlanski is a specialist in Arab politics, terror and communication who has served as a special advisor to Israeli delegations to peace talks in 1991-1992 and as Strategic Affairs Advisor to the Ministry of Public Security, editing secret PLO Archives captured in Jerusalem.
This piece ran in the Philadelphia Bulletin on April 25th, 2007