Tuesday, September 30, 2014

30-Sep-14: Martyrs and monsters

The street scene outside the burnt-out hide-away in Hebron after the elimination
of the fugitives in a firefight [Image Source]
The kidnapping and cold-blooded murder of three unarmed teen-age Israeli boys in June 2014 horrified and to a great extent united the Israeli public. The names and fates of Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Frenkel, 16, implanted in the Israeli collective consciousness since the events of three months ago, make concrete the terrorist passions animating the Islamist savages just across Israel's border with the Gaza Strip and the murder-addicted Hamas regime dug in there.

Rarely have Israelis had a clearer sense of what we stand for, what they stand for, and the unbridgeable gulf that separates us from them.

An audio record of the frantic call to an emergency number by one of the ways is part of that collective experience. In it, we hear a whispered call for help, followed by shouting and shots. Right after that, Marwan Al-Qawasmi and Amer Abu Aisheh, the killers, are heard laughing and rejoicing.

Others involved in the plot were arrested fairly quickly. But the two principal terrorists evaded capture from the time of the kidnap and murder until their demise on Tuesday September 23, 2014. The two fugitives were located shortly before that, and the Hebron residence in which they were hiding was surrounded by Israeli security forces. What happened next, according to Reuters:
Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha, both in their 30s, were shot dead during a gun battle after Israeli troops surrounded a house in the city before dawn, the army and residents said. Israel had been hunting the men for three months... The military said army and police forces were trying to arrest the two suspects when a firefight erupted. "We opened fire, they returned fire and they were killed in the exchange," Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner said. The governor of Hebron, Kamel Hmeid, confirmed on Palestinian radio that the two were dead. "It's clear now the two martyrs, al-Kawasme and Abu Aysha, were assassinated this morning during a military operation in the Hebron University area. We condemn this crime, this assassination, as deliberate and premeditated murder," he said. [Reuters, September 23, 2014]
Hmeid, the senior local political figure on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, understood that what had happened was a crime, an act of premeditated murder. The three unarmed, innocent boys who fell prey to the terrorists were not on his mind, however. He expressed no regret at the acts of murder that ended their young lives. "Assassination" is the word he chose for the deaths resulting from a gunfight between heavily-armed soldiers and two heavily-armed and desperate fugitives. The fugitive gunmen were the innocents in his narrative.

The Palestinian Arab politician was hardly alone in his moral perversion.

Palestinian Media Watch, which does invaluable work monitoring Arabic voices that fail to cross the language barrier and thus remain unknown to western public opinion, issued a report today surveying how the killers of three unarmed Jewish schoolboys - and their actions - have become sanctified by Palestinian Arab public and political opinion.

Some instances cited by PMW today:
  • Hamas, the ruling power in Gaza and the Palestinian Arab arm of the Moslem Brotherhood, claimed credit for the actions of the two gunmen/kidnappers on August 22, 2014. See interview with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal quoted by PMW.
  • Another senior Hamas figure, Saleh al-Arouri, among the founders of its Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades arm, addressed a conference in Istanbul (where he now lives) of the International Union of Islamic Scholars on August 20, 2014. In comments recorded on tape and later posted online by conference organisers. he said: "There was much speculation about this operation; some said it was a conspiracy... The popular will was exercised throughout our occupied land, and culminated in the heroic operation by [Hamas's armed wing] the Qassam Brigades in imprisoning the three settlers in Hebron." [Source: The Guardian on August 22, 2014]
  • Nonetheless WAFA, the public voice of the Palestinian Authority, refers in a september 23, 2014 report to the hunt for the killers and their deaths in the shoot-out as an "execution", and the freshly-dead terrorists as "Martyrs" (shahids). PMW notes that "WAFA did not mention why Israel sought to arrest them".
  • The PA's minister for religious affairs is also quoted by PMW calling the dead killers "martyrs" whom Israeli forces "assassinated", an act it called "a crime".
  •  On official PA TV news, the PMW translation of the headline report on September 23, 2014 is: "Occupation forces executed the two citizens Marwan Al-Qawasmi and Amer Abu Aisheh in cold-blood..."
  • Over at Fatah, whose head is the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, its spokesperson Ahmad Assaf "condemned the cowardly execution of Palestinian citizens" which he termed "a serious violation of international law."
  • The Palestinian delegation to the ceasefire talks in Cairo called it a "heinous crime" and an "assassination... intended to conceal the truth behind the [occupation's] version of events since the disappearance of the three settlers in Hebron." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, September 24, 2014]
Two funerals [Image Source]
A different form of morality-free viewpoint appears in an Al-Akhbar (Egypt) op ed column:
"What distinguished the abduction operation is that it left a deep impact on the Israeli psyche and constituted a resounding message to all parties, namely, that the Palestinian people will spare no effort to liberate their prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons..." [Ali Haydar, Al Akhbar, September 24, 2014]
Thousands attended the funerals of the two men:
In Qatar, Hussam Badran, a spokesman for top Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, praised the two militants on his Twitter account. "The martyrdom of Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisheh came after a long life full of jihad sacrifice and giving. This is the path of resistance, which we all are moving in," he said. [Associated Press, September 25, 2014]
Heroes they will inevitably be, and thousands may be moving on their path as Mashaal says. But unlike others elevated by Palestinian Arab society to that status, they are not going to take part in any future extortion-driven release deals. They will not study for a university degree at the expense of Israeli taxpayers like us. They won't be walking free again as media cameramen snap and flash around them. 

Above all, their arms are never going to be raised high by two-faced politicians playing to impassioned crowds braying for more killings, more revenge, more martyrs.

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