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Palestine Media Center - Daily News Summary

29 May 2002

Palestine Media Center - PMC

Find in Today's Brief:

- Rightwing Israeli Minister Urges Full Resumption of West Bank Offensive

- UK Demands Explanation on Israeli use of British Equipment in attacking Palestinians

- Delegate: UN Jenin probe "missed opportunity" for Israel

- Amnesty Annual Report Condemns Israel's Extra-Judicial Killing of Palestinians

- Tenet to Arrive in Region

Rightwing Israeli Minister Urges Full Resumption of West Bank Offensive

Rightwing Israeli cabinet minister, Effi Eitam, urged full resumption of "Operation Defensive Shield"; Israel's West Bank offensive launched in late March, which left 312 Palestinians killed, at least 744 others injured, and the entire Palestinian infrastructure completely destroyed.

"In the final analysis, terror understands only one thing: fighting, might, and attacks on its infrastructure", said Eitam said shortly before Israel's security cabinet meeting convened Wednesday morning.

He said he would do all that was possible "today in the cabinet to see that the state of Israel already knows that it must do, what it knows to be effective - to go in and operate on the ground and to vanquish terror".

Eitam, a former Israeli army brigadier-general, alluded to past remarks by army chief Shaul Mofaz, who said the army needed as long as two months or more to complete the operation.

The Israeli minister however dismissed suggestions that Israel had failed to take advantage of the post-Defensive Shield lull in
order to seek diplomatic solutions. "All those words like reform, diplomatic horizon and breakthrough are nonsense", he said.

"There's no diplomatic horizon, and there will be none until there's a decisive military victory", the known racist politician added.

Meanwhile, Israeli occupation troops continued their nightly raids, searches, and detentions in a number of West Bank cities, including Tulkarem, Qalqilia, and Bethlehem as well as its surrounding refugee camps.

UK Demands Explanation on Israeli use of British Equipment in attacking Palestinians

Jack Straw, the British Foreign Secretary, is demanding an explanation from Israel about the use of British equipment in Israeli tanks and attack helicopters, the two main weapons used against Palestinians in the Occupied Territory, reported The Guardian.

The British daily stated that evidence that parts of the military equipments' systems are made by British companies contradicts Israeli assurances that British arms would not be used in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Israeli Merkava tanks have been equipped with cooling systems made by the Airtechnology Group, the Surrey-based company confirmed yesterday. It said the equipment had not been supplied to Israel since 1996.

British equipment, including missile trigger systems, is also used in American Apache helicopters, which are supplied to Israel. They are made by Smiths Group, whose US subsidiaries supply a number of key parts for the helicopters, which have been repeatedly used in attacks against Palestinian targets and civilians. Apaches have also been regularly used to carry out extra-judicial executions of Palestinian activists; attacks that have resulted in the brutal murder of numerous civilians, including children.

The Guardian also uncovered that in April, the British government asked Israel to explain how the chassis from British Centurion tanks, exported between 1958 and 1970, came to be used in armored personnel carriers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The British Foreign Office said the modification contradicted a written pledge from Israel in November 2000 that "no UK-originated equipment ... are used as part of the Israeli army's activities in the [occupied] territories".

Jack Straw revealed then that Israel had refused to give a pledge that the armored cars would no longer be used in attacks against Palestinians.

Delegate: UN Jenin probe "missed opportunity" for Israel

Sadako Ogata, a member of a United Nations team appointed to investigate the Jenin refugee camp massacre, has called the collapse of the fact-finding mission an "enormous missed opportunity" for Israel, one that could have served as a first step toward mutual understanding between Israelis and Palestinians.

"I think it was an enormous missed opportunity, not only for the team but for Israel," Ogata told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday. Ogata, who served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 1991 to 2000, was named part of a team that was to probe Israeli actions in the Jenin refugee camp last month.

Israel, who initially welcomed the mission, laid conditions over its make-up and work, then delayed the arrival of the team. Finally, it rejected the mission under the pretext that it was "anti-Israeli", thus attempting, without success, to undermine its credibility.

Ogata said she did not think the 27-member team, which was to have been led by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, would have solved the big problems in the Middle East crisis. But she emphasized, "I would hope that it would have been a first step toward some kind of mutual understanding between the Israelis and the Palestinians".

Furthermore, Ogata stressed that the fate of the approximately 4.6 million Palestinian refugees who live in the Gaza strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria was currently "the most serious" refugee concern internationally. She added, "More than any other situation, the solution of the Palestinian refugees is totally intertwined with the outcome of the Middle East peace process".

Amnesty Report Condemns Israel's Extra-Judicial Killing of Palestinians

Amnesty International condemned Israel's unlawful killing hundreds of Palestinians, in reference to the assassination of Palestinian activists - which Israel has coined as "targeted killings" - as well as other cases of unlawful killings.

In its 2001 Report released yesterday, Amnesty noted, "More than 460 Palestinians were killed during 2001 by the Israeli security forces; most were unlawfully killed. Among the victims were 79 children and 32 individuals targeted for assassination. More than 2,000 Palestinians were arrested for security reasons. There were widespread reports of police brutality. Palestinian detainees frequently reported that they were tortured or ill-treated during interrogation."

"At the end of the year, at least 40 people were under administrative detention. At least 33 conscientious objectors were imprisoned during 2001. Hundreds of Palestinians from the Occupied Territories were tried before military courts in trials whose procedures fell short of international standards. Collective punishments against Palestinians included closures of towns and villages, demolition of more than 350 Palestinian homes and prolonged curfews," the report added.

Tenet to Arrive to Region

CIA Director George Tenet is due to arrive in the region on Monday to aid in realizing reforms in the security apparatus, which the Palestine National Authority is due to announce in the coming days. Meanwhile, American Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs ,William Burns, is due in Israel tomorrow, reportedly to discuss planned reforms in the PNA and the proposed international peace conference.

According to American sources, the American Administration is speeding up its involvement in the Middle East, including setting a timetable for progress in contacts between Israeli and Palestinian officials. Reports from Washington further reveal that the administration would take two tracks - one would set a timetable that would be imposed on the two sides, and make clear that if progress is not made, blame would be laid on the offending side. The second track would involve detailing the nature of the solution the US wants to see in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, US Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld are pressing that there be no American initiative that could end in failure. Instead, they say, Washington should focus on immediate goals - a cease-fire, Palestinian reforms, and an international conference. Tenet convened intelligence chiefs from Israel, Jordan, the PNA, Saudi Arabia and Egypt last week ahead of his trip. Representing Israel were Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy and the Occupation Army's Planning Department Commander Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland.

Eiland said Israel made mistakes since the onset of Israeli hostilities 20 months ago, especially at the beginning of this year. He cited the example of the demolition of the homes in Rafah, which damaged Israel's international image.

Occupation Chronicle-

Events in Palestine

29 May 2002 Palestine Media Center - PMC

Betunia Re-Invaded

According to eyewitnesses, Israeli occupation troops invaded Betunia town, near Ramallah city, yesterday evening and raided several civilian homes before retreating.

According to eyewitnesses, several Israeli tanks and armored vehicles surrounded the home of Hassan Yousef, a senior Hamas political leader, before raiding it. Mr. Yousef later told reporters: "occupation soldiers raided my home and damaged its contents." He also stressed that he had feared for the lives of his wife and his children, who were held inside the house at the time of the incursion.

Meanwhile, Israeli occupation troops completely sealed off the cities of Ramallah and Al-Bireh. Occupation soldiers also closed off the Qalandia roadblock between Ramallah and Occupied East Jerusalem, which is the only remaining road that residents can use to reach their work, schools, and universities.

Jerusalem Governor detained by Israeli Occupation Authorities

Israeli Intelligence authorities detained Occupied East Jerusalem's Governor, Mr. Jamil Nasser yesterday. Sources close to Dr. Sari Nusseibeh, the PLO official in charge of Jerusalem affairs, said that Israeli Intelligence personnel raided Dr. Sari's office and detained Mr. Nasser, who was present for a meeting. Mr. Nasser was later taken to the 'Russian Compound' detention camp in West Jerusalem.

Israeli occupation authorities alleged that Mr. Nasser was detained because he was present "illegally" within the Jerusalem boundaries. The Governor, however, considered that such assaults are driven by Israel's strategy to seal off the Occupied City and prevent any formal Palestinian existence in it.

Mr. Nasser added, "The Israeli occupation authorities have no right to prevent me from entering the City (of Jerusalem) and I shall proceed with my work there". This was not the first time Mr. Nasser was detained on the grounds that he does not hold a valid permit to enter Occupied East Jerusalem. However, the Governor contests, "My presence in the City is a divine right, as I was born here, my home is here, and no one can forbid me from working here".

Mr. Nasser's office is in Abu Dis, a Jerusalem town classified as Area B, which allows the Palestine National Authority to have civilian authorities' presence.

Israeli occupation forces attack three civilians in Bethlehem

Israeli occupation soldiers beat three Palestinian civilians this morning after detaining them at an Israeli roadblock near the illegal Israeli settlement of "Gilo".

The victims - 26 year-old Ashraf Abu Al-Zeit, 25 year-old Ahmad Salah, and 23 year-old Omar Al-Saied - were detained by the Israeli occupation soldiers while working in Occupied East Jerusalem. They were later taken to the "Gilo" roadblock, were they were subjected to the occupation soldiers' torture.

According to Mr. Abu Al-Zeit, Israeli occupation soldiers physically abused him and his friends for three hours. He added, "The Israeli soldiers attacked us using their rifle butts. They kept on doing this for hours and it was really terrible because we couldn't do anything to protect ourselves".

The victims were later taken to the Beit Jala hospital, where they were treated from moderate injuries.

Also in Bethlehem:

Occupation Forces' Raids continue

Israeli occupation forces raided a number of homes and civil institutions in Bethlehem City yesterday and detained a number of the residents.

According to eyewitnesses, Israeli occupation soldiers raided the Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah newspaper's office in the city, where they destroyed a number of computers and equipment.

Moreover, Israeli occupation forces raided dozens of homes in Al-'Aza and 'Aydah refugee camps. During the raid, Israeli occupation soldiers detained a number of residents and took them to an unknown location.

Israeli occupation forces also prevented a delegation, composed of a number of Arab-Israeli Knesset members, from entering Bethlehem City to express their solidarity with the city's residents, who continue to suffer from the incessant Israeli occupation.

Qalqilia Villages Under Fire

Early this morning, Israeli occupation forces invaded 'Azoun village, near Qalqilia town, and imposed a curfew on its neighborhoods.

In addition, Israeli occupation forces raided dozens of 'Azoun homes and detained a number of residents among them, Na'el Hussein, Ass'ad Suweidan, and 'Aref Salem.

The Israeli occupation forces also opened fire at the residents' homes. Fortunately, no casualties or injuries were reported.

Rafah suffers continuous Israeli incursions

Three civilians were injured yesterday when Israeli occupation forces opened fire at the residents' neighborhoods in Rafah City.

According to eyewitnesses, one Israeli bulldozer, protected by a number of tanks, carried out an incursion hundreds of meters into the Palestinian-controlled city and opened fire towards the residents' homes, causing severe damage to property.

Palestinian Civilian Wounded in Jericho

Medical sources in Jericho City announced yesterday that Israeli occupation soldiers shot one of the city's residents while he was traveling with a number of other residents near Wadi Al-Qilts road. The victim was shot at a relatively short distance away from an Israeli military roadblock in the area.

The victim, 45 year-old Abdullah Da'abis was later taken to a local hospital in the city, where he was treated from moderate injuries.

Palestinian DCO hands two Israelis who entered Tulkarem

The Palestinian District Coordination Office (DCO) handed its Israeli counterpart two Israelis, who had reportedly entered Tulkarem city yesterday by mistake.

According to a Palestinian DCO source, the two Israeli citizens, who were driving a car that has an Israeli license plate, were stopped by a number of residents after having entered the city. The residents later contacted the security authorities, who sent a police force, which accompanied the two Israelis to the DCO office. The handover is in accordance with the signed agreements between the Palestine National Authority and Israel.

The two Israeli citizens later reported that Tulkarem's residents treated them well.


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