A senior Israeli cabinet minister and former Israeli minister of defense, Binyamin Ben Eliezer, has proposed that the jailed Fatah secretary Gen. Marwan Barghouti, be released from an Israeli prison in exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit and said that Mr. Barghouti is expected to be the next leader of the Palestinians. In Mr. Ben Eliezer’s words, “We must break the cycle; the release of Marwan Barghouti could constitute a move that would both move the peace negotiations forward and lead to the release of Shalit.”
Mr. Barghouti, whom Mr. Ben Eliezer suggests should be released from prison so he can “lead the Palestinian people,” was convicted of murder of direct responsibility for the murders of Salim Barakat, 33; Eli Dahan, 53; Yosef Habi, 52; Fr. Georgios Tsibouktzakis, 34, a Greek Orthodox monk from St. George’s Monastery in Wadi Kelt near Jericho; and Yoela Chen, 45.
According to the court protocols, Mr. Barghouti proudly admitted that he directed terrorist attacks in which scores of Israelis were killed and revealed how he directly allocated funds needed by terrorist cells to operate and purchase necessary weapons. He stated that Yasser Arafat personally authorized this funding for Tanzim activities, knowing that this money would be used to finance murderous attacks. Furthermore, protocols of interrogations of Palestinian officials before the trial showed how the process worked: Names of Tanzim killers were submitted to Mr. Barghouti, who would routinely take them to Mr. Arafat for approval.
At Mr. Barghouti’s trial, people who were maimed as a result of Barghouti-sponsored attacks also appeared as witnesses to the pain that he caused them – pain they will experience for the rest of their lives.
Chicago-born Alan Bauer and his then seven-year-old son Jonathan were among those witnesses. They were walking on King George Street in downtown Jerusalem when a Barghouti-funded suicide bomber blew himself up three feet away from them on Mar. 21, 2002. Two arteries in Mr. Bauer’s arm were severed. A screw went all the way through little Jonathan’s head. Today, as a result, Jonathan walks with a limp.
It was also Mr. Barghouti who, from 1995 until his imprisonment in 2002, hammered out cooperative agreements in Cairo between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority and who continues to do so today from prison. And according to Israeli intelligence sources and in the indictment issued against him, it was Mr. Barghouti who, on the outbreak of an armed rebellion in October 2000, became the head of a joint coordinating body of all violent Palestinian organizations in the West Bank – including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, all three of which are listed by both the American and the Israeli government as terrorist groups.
Prisons In Gaza
Hamas has established detention centers in the Gaza Strip.
The Middle East News Line reports that the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) said Hamas’ military wing, Izzedin Kassam, has set up an undetermined number of detention centers throughout the Gaza Strip since June 2007. PCHR said the prisons were holding opponents of the new Hamas regime, particularly members of the defeated Fatah movement.
“One of the leading violations is the establishment of several detention centers administered by Kassam Battalions, in which civilians are detained, interrogated, and subjected to torture and other forms of cruel and inhumane treatment,” PCHR said on Sunday.
The Palestinian human rights group, itself the target of the Hamas regime, said Izzedin Kassam has assumed police duties in the Gaza Strip. PCHR said Hamas military operations were in coordination with the Executive Force, established by the Interior Ministry in 2006.
“More worrisome is the fact that the Executive Force delivers some of its detainees to Kassam battalions and holds them in the latter’s detention centers,” PCHR director Raji Sourani said.
Several detainees were said to have died in Hamas prisons. PCHR said one inmate died in the Mashtal detention center northwest of Gaza City.
In a Sept. 13 letter to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, PCHR cited the regime’s arrest and beating of journalists and dissidents. The group said detainees have been held for more than a month without judicial proceedings.
“PCHR has documented many cases in which civilians were subjected to torture and other forms of cruel and inhumane treatment during detention and questioning by the Executive Force,” the letter said. “Many of them complained that they were treated with vindictiveness due to their status as activists. … Torture was perpetrated in police stations and Executive Force compounds throughout the Gaza Strip.”
Egyptian Army Practices Crossing
The Suez Canal
An enormous five-day military exercise in Sinai ended two days ago, during which ground and air troops of the Egyptian army held a mock exercise of crossing the Suez Canal, as it did in the Yom Kippur War.
Egypt’s official news agency Mina reported on Monday that the exercise was over and that it had been commanded by the Egyptian defense minister, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi. It reported that Egyptian air force planes took part, that helicopters dropped paratroopers and armored corps forces by parachute. The code name given to the exercise was “the tenth of Ramadan,” which is the official Egyptian name for the Yom Kippur War, which began on the tenth day of the month of the Muslim Ramadan fast.
The last time a military exercise was held to simulate crossing the Suez Canal was in 2002. Egyptian strategic experts explain that the Egyptian army holds military maneuvers based on a number of scenarios, one of which is an end to the peace with Israel and an IDF reinvasion of Sinai while attacking targets in Egypt.
Israeli sources say that Egypt has been holding such exercises for a decade. In these exercises the Egyptians practice, among other things, a simulation of moving large armored forces across the canal. This is despite the fact that the peace agreements with Egypt prohibit moving Egyptian tanks into Sinai. This exercise could be a hint that the Egyptians are keeping up their ability up in case there are regional changes.
The preparation of Egypt’s offensive capability in Sinai is not only expressed in exercises of this sort: The Egyptians have also prepared passages over and below the canal, making it possible to send large forces across on the day the order is given. The various types and numbers of weapons they are purchasing could also indicate that the Egyptian army is keeping up its offensive capability in Sinai, which would pose a threat to Israel in the future, even though Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel 28 years ago.
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2007