Monday, February 25, 2013

25-Feb-13: Whipping up the flames

There remain some optimistic voices but they all seem to be on
the Israeli side. Palestinian Arab figures seem intent on showing
a third chapter in this ongoing war is already  underway [Image Source
The first signs of spring are here. But there is no mistaking the dark clouds headed our way from the neighbouring villages, towns and cities of the Palestinian Authority. That's the body formed in 1994 as part of a series of agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, and that renamed itself, first, as the Palestinian National Authority and then a few weeks ago as the State of Palestine. A state calling itself that was proclaimed in November 1988 (repeat: 1988).

This matter of what they're called is not so simple. As Wikipedia points out, the PA is not the same as, and should never be confused with, the Palestine Liberation Organization. Only one of those two organizations has a seat at the United Nations under the name "Palestine" and "continues to enjoy international recognition as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people". 

That organization happens to be... the PLO.

The entity calling itself "State of Palestine" also does not speak for or represent the Arabs of Gaza who are under the de facto control of a branch of the Moslem Brotherhood called Hamas.

Specialist practitioners of international law can probably explain and separate out the various strands of this description so that it makes sense. For most other people. say 99.999% of the international community, it's confusing, misleading, incoherent and unhelpful. Which is a good way to describe some of the more recent developments.

‘Third intifada’ is already here, PA officials say
Times of Israel | Stuart Winer | February 24, 2013 |  Four thousand five hundred Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails went on a hunger strike Sunday to protest the death of Arafat Shalish Shahin Jaradat in Megiddo Prison the day before, amid a wave of clashes in the West Bank that has been stoking Israeli concerns of a third Palestinian intifada, or uprising.  Palestinian officials on Sunday morning warned that another popular uprising was indeed unfolding, but asserted that protesters would stick to the path of nonviolence. “The death of the prisoner is the culmination of an already tense situation,” Kadoura Fares, a former PA minister and the head of the Palestinian prisoner’s club, told Maariv. “All of the incidents reveal a clear trend – we’re facing an intifada. The hunger-striking prisoners and the tense demonstrations, the violent clashes during which Palestinian civilians are killed, and the frozen peace process – all indicate that we’re sitting on a barrel of dynamite”... Senior Palestinian official Jibril Rajoub denied allegations that the Palestinian Authority was stoking the protests, and expressed hope that cooperation with Israel would stave off the violence. “I say on behalf of the entire Palestinian leadership that we won’t initiate any bloodshed,” he told Israel Radio, asserting the Palestinians’ right to “nonviolent resistance... I want to say to all Israelis: Your right-wingers will not draw the Palestinian people into violence. I hope there will be a joint intifada, a joint spring, between the Palestinians and the peace camp [in Israel] that believes in peace and coexistence with two states for two peoples,” he said. The Palestinian Authority’s position was that protests must remain nonviolent and that there should be no return to the kind of violence that reigned during the Second Intifada, he asserted. “Not a single person should be killed, no matter who he is or what his beliefs are,” Rajoub said [more]
Hearing Jibril Rajoub try to calm the Palestinian furies is a little bizarre. He's the boss of the Palestinian Football Federation and the Palestine Olympic Committee; this past summer, we quoted him here ["26-Jul-12: The Olympic Games start tomorrow. What have we learned?" congratulating the Olympic organizers for declining to remember the dead of the Munich 1972 massacre. Rajoub is himself a seasoned terrorist [see "We salute Shalit's kidnappers, says Jibril Rajoub"] who has been repeatedly arrested and imprisoned for engaging in acts of terror over the decades. He owes his freedom to a notorious 1985 transaction (eventually known as the Jibril Deal) in which he was among 1,150 Palestinian Arabs freed from Israeli prisons in exchange for three Israeli hostages held by a terrorist group. 

The death of Arafat Jaradat, the Palestinian prisoner, caused the PA prime minister Salam Fayyad to express his shock. 
A statement issued by his office called on the Israeli authorities to uncover the “true cause” of his death as soon as possible. On Saturday night, defense establishment officials invited the Palestinian Authority to take part in Jaradat’s post-mortem examination  [Times of Israel]
The post-mortem took place this past Sunday at Israel's National Center for Forensic Medicine near Tel Aviv. And while it was carried by Prof. Yehuda Hiss, the legendary long-time head of the institute, in the presence of Prof. Arnon Afek, director of the Health Administration at the Ministry of Health, as well as Palestinian pathologist Dr. Saber Aloul. Here's what Israel's Ministry of Health (as conveyed by the Independent Media Review Analysis website) reported yesterday:
During the autopsy, no signs of external trauma were found apart from those pertaining to resuscitation [attempts] and a small graze on the right side of his chest. No evidence of disease was found during the autopsy. Two internal hemorrhages were detected, one on the shoulder and one on the right side of the chest. Two ribs were broken, which may indicate resuscitation attempts. The initial findings cannot determine the cause of death. At this stage, until microscopic and toxicology reports are in, the cause of death cannot be tied to the autopsy findings.”
Given the dangerous mood of incitement in evidence among the Palestinian Arabs, the decision to offer the right of participation in the autopsy to a representative of their side might be seen as a wise move. Or maybe not.

Palestinian Authority says Israel tortured inmate to death
Times of Israel | Stuart Winer | February 24, 2013 | The Palestinian Authority on Sunday accused Israel of torturing to death Palestinian inmate Arafat Shalish Shahin Jaradat, who died in jail on Saturday, setting the stage for a dramatic escalation of ongoing protests in the West Bank. Israeli officials said Jaradat died of a heart attack, and denied he was beaten or subjected to any treatment that could have led to his death. The PA convened a press conference to issue its accusations of blame against Israel — a step certain to raise tensions surrounding Jaradat’s scheduled funeral on Monday. “The information we have received so far is shocking and painful; the evidence corroborates our suspicion that Mr. Jaradat died as a result of torture, especially since the autopsy clearly proved that the victim’s heart was healthy, which disproves the initial alleged account presented by occupation authorities that he died of a heart attack,” Palestinian Authority Minister of Detainees Issa Karake said at the press conference Sunday evening. Dr. Saber Aloul, director of the Palestinian Forensic Medicine Institute, who participated in the autopsy conducted by pathologists at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute, claimed to have determined that markings on Jaradat’s body proved that he was beaten and tortured to death.
Issa Karake, who has a history of provocative statements in his role as minister representing prisoners' interests in the PA 
concluded by asserting “the full responsibility of the Israeli occupation for this crime,” reiterating that “States party to the UN Charter and relevant international conventions, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, have a standing legal and international responsibility to compel Israel to respect the law and stop the use of torture as well as holding Israel accountable for its clear violations of international law and the rights of Palestinian prisoners.”
For its part, the Ministry of Health took care to be as explicit in its findings as is professionally possible, reporting there were no visible signs on Jaradat’s body other than those made by resuscitation efforts plus a small graze on his chest. Jaradat's funeral is scheduled for later today. You hear the word "bracing" a lot in the news reports today, referring to what the Israeli government is doing as it watches the PA leadership whip its foot soldiers into a state of riot.
The IDF said its security forces were on high alert throughout the West Bank. Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot held several phone conversations with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, urging him to do everything possible to lower the flames [Times of Israel]

In addition to providing protection from those with violence on their minds, the IDF has one eye on an ongoing problem that, for some reason, Jabroub and Karake prefer not to address:

18 attempts in four months to kidnap Israeli soldiers
Times of Israel | Yifa Yaakov | February 23, 2013, 9:26 pm | Hamas and other Palestinian groups have made 18 attempts in the past four months to kidnap Israeli soldiers to use as bargaining chips for the release of Palestinian security prisoners, an Israeli general said Saturday. Avi Mizrahi, outgoing commander of the IDF’s Central Command, said Hamas was behind most of the attempts. The general, interviewed on Channel 2′s Meet the Press, was speaking amid a dramatic upsurge in violence surrounding Palestinian security prisoners, several of whom are hunger-striking. Hamas leaders have repeatedly urged their followers to try to replicate the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, an IDF soldier who was grabbed in a raid into Israel from Gaza in 2006, held hostage by Hamas in the Strip for five years, and released in October 2006 in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian security prisoners, including arch-terrorists.
The IDF's concerns were expressed just a few days after an earlier PA/Fatah warning/threat that violence is coming if the thousands of Palestinian Arab prisoners are not released:

Fatah official warns of violence if prisoners aren’t freed 
Times of Israel | Elhanan Miller | February 19, 2013, 7:57 pm | A Fatah official warned on Tuesday of an increase in Palestinian violence if four hunger-striking prisoners held in administrative detention in Israel are not immediately released. Eight-hundred Palestinian prisoners serving sentences in the Rimon, Eshel and Nafkha prisons began a hunger strike on Tuesday in solidarity with Samer Issawi, who has been refusing food for 200 days, and three other hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli detention. In response to the prisoners’ hunger strike, violent clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces continued across the West Bank on Tuesday. Kadoura Fares, the head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club [said] that, while Palestinians are not interested in launching a third intifada over the administrative detention of Palestinians in Israeli jails, emotions may flare out of control. “Sometimes the fire starts out small and expands to a large inferno,” he said. “If one of the prisoners dies, spirits will flare, Israeli soldiers will shoot at demonstrators, and things will get out of hand.”
The Palestinian Arab leadership do a passable job of repeatedly decrying how outnumbered and outgunned they are in their conflict with the Israelis. They - and we're thinking of the Jibril Rajoubs, the Issa Karakes, the Salam Fayads, the Mahmoud Abbases - do a far less credible or effective job of calming the hordes, of decrying terrorism and of helping their people understand the price their own society pays when they - and it's always they - resort to violent attacks on Israelis and acts of terrorism purportedly expressing the 'desperation' of their side. 

We're certain to see and hear more signs in these coming days of a third round of this ongoing war of terrorism misleadingly called an intifada. We think fair minded people can learn a lot by looking closely to see which side is working to prevent the damage and loss that will surely follow... and which is enthusiastically doing what it can to bring it on.

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