Tuesday, January 04, 2011

4-Jan-10: Jerusalem Arabs planned showcase massacre

Jerusalem's Teddy Kollek Stadium
Ignoring the provocative headline ("Israel accuses Palestinian staff at UK consulate in rocket plot inquiry"), the Guardian - along with the entire Israeli press - carries a story today with disturbing implications for Jerusalemites like us.

Four Jerusalem men, all evidently connected with the Hamas jihadists who run the Gaza Strip, were tracked for months by Israeli police while they prepared to execute a rocket attack on this city's main sports arena, the Teddy Kollek Stadium. The announcement of the arrests came from the Shin Bet, Israel's special security service, after a news blackout of some weeks. It included the rather chilling assertion that the accused terrorists systematically checked "how best to launch a projectile when the stadium was crowded with people during a game". The Guardian rather laconically calls it "an alleged plot to fire a rocket at a local football stadium", but it would be more accurate to say this was an attempt to carry out a showcase massacre of innocent non-combatants.

All four live on the east side of our city. Two of the Hamas activists are Mussa Hamada and Bassem Omari. Omari holds Israeli citizenship, and is believed to be behind plans to carry out a separate attack, "possibly a kidnapping", against Israeli soldiers. The remaining two, Mohammed Hamadeh and Bilal Bakhatan, happen to work for Britain's Jerusalem consulate in maintenance roles, and are charged with helping to procure the weapons. It's presumably the British connection that propels this report into the British media.

Reading the Guardian's report, in particular, with its slightly sneering tone and gratuitous references to inflated Palestinian  numbers of casualties in the 2008 flighting in Gaza, you could be struck by how differently this might have been reported. When a plot by Islamicists in Melbourne to blow up the Melbourne Cricket Ground during the playing of the 2005 AFL Grand Final (see this report) was reported in Australia, the media and the public understood only too well how dangerous and despicable the intended terrorism was, and the serious tone of the reports reflected this. We guess it all depends on how much you feel yourself to be in the cross-hairs of the terrorists' weapons.

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