On November 11, 1999, during a Gaza appearance with First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Suha Arafat, wife of Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Yasser Arafat stated: "Our people have been subjected to the daily and extensive use of poisonous gas by the Israeli forces, which has led to an increase in cancer cases among women and children."
Palestinian Press Defends Statements
In Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, a PA daily, Columnist Fuad Abu Hijleh criticizes the US administration, for officially condemning Suha Arafat's words rather than publishing the truth because "The Americans do not want to embarrass themselves… The main motive for the White House's eagerness to condemn sister Suha's statement …lies in its wish to make New York Jews happy in order to get a few votes supporting Hillary Clinton's candidacy…. If elections to congress bring the US to endorse such a position, what can we expect in the presidential elections?"
Columnist Fathi abd Al-Hamid writes in the Palestinian weekly, Al-Manar, "We abhor Israeli anger [over Arafat's statement]... Since the occupation's beginning, Israel has conducted a pre-meditated campaign against the Palestinians and their land. …Water poisoning incidents are known and proven; the burial of nuclear waste is not a secret… and spoiled foodstuffs are collected in settlements with the knowledge of Israeli leaders, and thrown to Palestinian markets…. Suha Arafat's statements represent what the people… suffer from the hated Israeli colonialism, which continues… despite the beginning of the peace process. This is why we are not surprised by Tel Aviv's destructive schemes, nor by the hysteric reaction to Suha Arafat's statements, which are verified by facts on the ground."
Similar Accusations by PA Officials
Suha Arafat's accusations are not unique. Following are three examples.
PA Health Minister, Riyadh Al-Za'anoon, stated Israeli doctors "use Palestinian patients… for experimental medicines and training new doctors. "
PA Deputy Minister of Supplies, Abd Al-Hamid Al-Qudsi, claimed, "Israel carries out a clear policy of annihilating our people and destroying our national economy by smuggling spoiled foodstuff… not fit for human consumption, into PA territories…. Israel did not change its strategy, which aims to kill and destroy our people, rather it began counting on means other than bombs, missiles and planes. These measures are distributing and smuggling spoiled foodstuffs… into the PA territories."
PA Minister of Ecology, Yousef Abu-Safiyyeh, claimed that Israel damages the Palestinian environment by dumping liquid waste, which is a dangerous threat to the groundwater, in Palestinian areas in the West Bank and Gaza.