‘Things we will never talk about’

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Israel is stepping up its undeclared war on the essentially unarmed Palestinian population, employing a new method known as “quiet assassinations,” which is directed at murdering as many activists as possible and as quietly as possible so as to avoid negative international reactions.

The new policy, adopted last week during a special session of the Israeli inner council on security, assumes the form of murdering “wanted activists” at point-blank range or planting high-impact bombs in their homes and cars, and then claiming that they were killed due to “internal vendettas” or “work accidents” while preparing explosive devices intended to be used against Israel.

In so doing, the Israeli army hopes to achieve two ends by a single means: first it gets rid of the “terrorists,” and, second, it creates a degree of obscurity surrounding the circumstances of the murder, in an attempt to avoid international criticism.

The Israeli occupation army began to implement this policy last week when Shin Bet agents detonated, via remote control, a large bomb in Fatah’s main office in downtown Hebron, killing 34-year-old Raja’e Abu Rajab, a father of three.

The Israeli media carried a statement from the army denying any involvement in the murder and parroted the charge that Abu Rajab was actually killed in a “work accident,” while preparing a bomb.

Of course, there was not one iota of truth to either claim.

The campaign of murder continued as Israeli helicopter gunships on 22 July fired several missiles at the home of Ibrahim Jaber, who is involved in Islamic youth and charitable activities, destroying the house completely. Jaber himself was not hurt as he was praying at a nearby mosque at the time of the bombing.

Hamas spokesman in Jenin, Khaled Al-Haj, described the bombing as “a criminal assassination attempt on the life of a person because of his political beliefs.”

“They [the Israelis] are acting like street thugs and gangsters. Israel is a criminal state and its leaders are war criminals who ought to be prosecuted for their crimes.”

The following day, 23 July, Israeli undercover soldiers, disguised as Palestinian laborers, attempted to assassinate an Islamic Jihad activist in Bethlehem.

The masked soldiers, armed with guns with silencers, fired several bullets on Khaled Al-Heremi, 29, while walking well inside area A which is supposed to be completely under the PA’s control.

Fortunately, the man was only moderately injured. The Israeli terrorists fled toward the nearby army outpost at the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque which the Israeli government had converted into a synagogue despite strong Muslim opposition.

An Israeli army spokesman said in a terse statement that he had no knowledge of the incident, adding that “it was probably an internal Palestinian scuffle.”

Two similar “quiet” assassination attempts took place in Nablus, this time targeting PFLP activists and resulting in the injury of two of them — one of whom was injured seriously. Again the Israeli spokesman dismissed the two incidents as “work incidents.”

The murders continued and with little media coverage from the Israeli side. On 23 July, the Israeli army raided Anin, near Jenin in the northern part of the West Bank, placing the small hamlet under curfew.

Anin falls within area C, which is an area completely controlled by the Israeli army. However, this did not prevent 10 Israeli soldiers from walking straight to one of the homes in the village and shooting Mustafa Issa Yassin at point-blank range as he stepped out of his home after being ordered to do so by the soldiers.

“They could have arrested him, he was unarmed. But instead, they murdered him in cold blood,” said his brother Ahmed Yassin.

Yassin had earlier been detained for 12 hours but was released, apparently so that he could be murdered in a less suspicious manner.

And as is typical in such circumstances, the Israeli army spokesman concocted a statement alleging that Yassin was killed while trying to escape.

“In the midst of a the attempt by an undercover border police unit to arrest Yassin, he tried to escape, and after calling for him to halt and issuing a warning, he was shot and killed.”

Two more Palestinians were murdered on 23 July. One, identified as Nasser Hassan, 32, was found hanged near the Jewish settlement of Kukab Sabah. The other, a 15-year-old boy, had been sitting in the front yard of his home in Rafah when he was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers.

Virtually all of these acts of murder pass without being investigated, a clarion testimony to Israeli callousness and indifference to the loss of non- Jewish lives.

Needless to say, the policy of murdering Palestinians and then lying about it was adopted and announced by no other person than Prime Minister Ariel Sharon himself. A few months ago, while on a visit to the Jordan Valley settlements, Sharon told settlers “there will be things which we will take credit for, and there will be things we will deny, and there will be things we will never talk about.”

The latest spate of killings by the Israeli occupation army was preceded by the heinous murder of the Etmeizi family by Jewish terrorists at the village of Edna, 10 miles west of Hebron, on 19 July.

The terrorists, armed with M-16 rifles supplied by the Israeli army, parked in a car just outside Edna from which they fired dozens of high- velocity bullets at a Palestinian car conveying eight people home from a pre-wedding party. As a result, three persons, including the 10-week-old infant Diya Helmi Etmeiz, and a recently-married young man, Mohamed Etmeizi, and his cousin Mohamed were immediately killed. Four other members of the family were seriously injured.

The terrorists fled westward toward the Jewish town of Kiryat Gad, built on the ruins of the Arab town of Faluja, passing quietly through the army roadblock without any of them being stopped for the routine identity check.

The Israeli officer in charge at the roadblock reportedly claimed that he “forgot” to stop the car, suggesting complicity in the act.

Some Israeli officials denounced the carnage, ostensibly for public relations purposes, while others, like Tourism Minister Rahba’am Zeivi, had the chutzpah to charge that the Palestinians murdered their own people in order to expedite the deployment of international observers in the Occupied Territories.

Palestinian officials described Zeivi’s remarks as “the sick words of a sick person.”

So far, the terrorists have not been apprehended, probably because the Israeli security services don’t want to catch them.

The list of conspirators and connivers and culprits in the Etmeizi family carnage is indeed long. It certainly includes the police, the Israeli army and the Shin Bet, and it may well eventually include the courts and the Israeli president, who routinely pardons Jewish murderers of Palestinians after they serve a symbolic prison sentence.

In November of last year, the Israeli court released two Jewish terrorists (Yaron Degani and Gad Tena from the settlement of Itamar near Nablus) on the grounds of insufficient evidence only six days after they murdered Farid Nassrah as he was harvesting olives in his orchard.

In the past nine months, Israel has demonstrated in a brazen manner that it is actually an apartheid state applying different rules to Arabs and Jews.

For example, heavily-armed Jewish settlers have, almost on a daily basis, rampaged through Arab villages, vandalised property, torched cars, beat up, shot at and murdered Palestinians, but they have rarely been called to account. In light of this practice, it is unlikely that the killers of the Etmeizi family will be treated differently — assuming that they are even apprehended.

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