Moments before the rope was tightened around his neck, Saddam screamed out: “Long live Iraq and long live Palestine!”

The execution of Saddam Hussein threw the Arab population throughout the land of Israel into a state of mourning.

The Eid al-Adha Moslem holiday celebrations began in a gloomy atmosphere.

In Bethlehem, approximately 200 inhabitants demonstrated, threatening to avenge his death.

A car moved about the streets of Ramallah with a loudspeaker and called on the masses to declare a state of mourning in the city.

Eyewitnesses said that the car was being driven by Fatah officials.

Neither the Christian Palestinians nor the Muslims were taciturn in the wake of the execution. Archimandrite Hanna Atalla, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, and Muslim clerics vociferously condemned Saddam’s hanging.

Hundreds of residents of el-Khader, south of Bethlehem, declared three days of mourning. The villagers gathered near the entrance to the village, hung pictures of Saddam, raised placards condemning the American occupation in Iraq, and sang the Iraqi national anthem. Most of the houses in the village were dressed with black flags to mark their mourning for the demise of the former Iraqi president.

Nostalgia For Saddam

Saddam Hussein took pains in his speeches to encourage “greater Palestine,” and fostered a strong relationship with Yasser Arafat. The latter habitually made pilgrimages to Saddam Hussein and received substantial monetary aid.

“The great benefactor,” Saddam, encouraged young Palestinian terrorists to slip into Iraq, where they underwent training at special camps that were established by the Iraqi army. The Palestinians who trained at those camps were taught how to assemble bombs for terror attacks inside Israel. The counselors were Iraqis, who used topographical maps that had been smuggled out of Israel.

Saddam also remunerated the Palestinian terrorists.

According to documents that were seized in Arafat’s headquarters, Saddam gave $25,000 to every family of a suicide bomber,

Even without these documents, BBC filmed the awards ceremonies in 2001 of bomber families receiving the $25,000 terror incentive package, delivered with the insignia of the Palestinian Authority and the blessings of Saddam.

In many Palestinian villages black flags were hung from the rooftops, photographs of Saddam were pasted to the walls, and three days of mourning were declared after the death of the ousted president of Iraq.

Hamas, the ruling party in the Palestinian Authority, issued a formal condemnation of the execution. “This crime of execution, which was carried out on the first day of Eid al-Adha, is a token of disrespect for all Islamic and Arab values,” read the special statement that was issued by Hamas.

Ismail Radwan, the Hamas spokesman, said that the execution was a slap in the face of the Arab regimes. “Saddam’s execution is a message to anyone who opposes the United States,” said Radwan. “But who will try the American administration for the crimes that it has committed in Palestine and Iraq?”

Fatah, chaired by Mahmoud Abbas, also issued a statement of solidarity with the ousted tyrant. Abbas Zaki, a senior Fatah official, said that Saddam Hussein’s execution was a violation of international law.

“It’s a political issue,” said Zaki, “hanging Saddam on the first day of Eid al-Adha attests to the scope of external intervention in the affairs of Iraq.”

Jewish Symbolism: Saddam Executed On Day Babylon Laid Siege on Jerusalem

Jews around the world noted that Saddam was executed on the Jewish Sabbath and that his burial took place on the tenth of Tevet, the day on the Jewish calendar which marks the beginning of the process that culminated in the Babylonian destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BCE.

Jewish religious figures noted that the execution of one of the most prominent haters of Israel on that date served as a moment of “religious closure.”

In early 588 BCE, the armies of Babylon, which is now Iraq, invaded the area that was home to the Tribe of Judah, and on the tenth day of Tevet, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, laid siege on Jerusalem. That siege lasted for some two and a half years, and caused a grave shortage of food and starvation for the denizens of Jerusalem. In the aftermath of that siege, the Jewish sages wrote of Nebuchadnezzar, “throughout the entire life of that wicked man, no mirth was to be found in any living creature.” The siege ended finally on Tisha B’Av [the ninth day of Av], 586 BCE, with the destruction of the Temple. The Jewish King Tzidkiyahu was captured, his sons were butchered in front of him and then his eyes were torn from their sockets. The Temple and the homes of Jerusalem were burned, and most members of the Tribe of Judah were sent into exile.

Saddam made a point of establishing his fortified palace on the ruins of a great Jewish learning academy that had existed from the time of the exile of the Jews to Babylonia until the expulsion of the Jewish community from Baghdad in 1950.

In the early 1950s, Israel established the 10th of Tevet as the day of mourning for Jews who have suffered the fate of mass murder at the hands of anti-Semites.

©The Bulletin 2007

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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