Sunday, May 15, 2011

15-May-11: Just celebrating

For us Israelis, the 63rd anniversary of the nation's independence was honoured by country-wide celebrations this past Tuesday (the anniversary according to Hebrew lunar calendar). Many of us enjoyed the day in the company of our extended families, with a traditional outdoor grill as the centerpiece. Speaking personally, it was a great day.

The Palestinian Arabs observe the same event today, Sunday 15th May. But for them, it's termed Catastrophe Day, or Nakba. And their approach to history and current affairs reflects some fundamental differences about how they see themselves, us and the relations between us.

In an unusually frank disclosure, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram reported Friday on some preparations:
In preparation for a third intifada, which it is hoped will be ignited on Friday, 13 May tens of thousands of short messages (sms) flooded the mobile phones of Palestinians in the West Bank, urging them to take part. The messages also urged participation in similar events on Sunday, a Christian holiday. The messages were signed “Muslim Youth Association,” and the group has announced a whole program of events organized in coordination with other groups reflecting a range of views along the Palestinian political spectrum. The association listed the mosques where mass rallies are to begin, while some planned activities will remain secret until they are launched to prevent their frustration by occupation forces. The announcement suggests that most of the activity will be centered in the Al Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem, where activists can take advantage of the large number of worshippers who attend Friday prayers there. A large showing would encourage the viability of the protest movement.
Sad to say, Al-Ahram's wishes seem to have materialized and the 'celebrations' have started.

Haaretz is reporting that a truck, driven by a 22 year-old resident of the Israeli-Arab town of Kafr Kassem, plowed at high speed into a bus, several private vehicles, a motorcycle and some pedestrians at Bar Lev Street near the busy Mesubim Junction at Tel Aviv's southern entrance in the past hour. The editors at Haaretz are speculating that this is a terrorist attack which in the circumstances is not such a stretch. Ynet says the driver has been caught and arrested. One person is dead, at least four people are seriously injured.

Reuters ["Truck rampage kills one person in Tel Aviv"] carries this brief report from an eye witness as heard on Israeli radio:
"We heard terrible slamming behind us in the car -- boom, and another boom and another boom -- until it reached us, and we simply flew up in the air," a witness, identified only as Yossi, said on Army Radio. He went on and crashed into a bus. He got out and began to go crazy, throwing things at people. There was this poor innocent girl -- he struck her on the head. She just fell down, and now people are treating her. What can I tell you? A terrorist attack."
Updates as we get them.

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