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March 14, 2011 Special Dispatch No. 3664

Senior PA Officials Condemn Itamar Murder while Blaming Israel for Palestinian Hostility

March 14, 2011
Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 3664

Following the March 11 attack on the Fogel family in the Israeli settlement of Itamar, in which the parents and three children, including a four-month-old infant, were killed, PA officials condemned the attack while stressing their opposition to all violence, including violence against Palestinians. Some also raised questions about the identity of the murderers, hinting that they may not have been Palestinian. Fatah officials and columnists in the PA dailies denounced the murder of the children with unprecedented harshness, stressing the depravity of the act, but also blamed the settlers for instigating Palestinian hostility against them, and noted that Israel also killed children.

Following are excerpts from some of the reactions:

Varied Reactions from PA Officials

PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas condemned the murder along with "all violence against civilians," emphasizing that violence begot violence, and that what was needed was a just and comprehensive solution to the conflict.[1] PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad stated: "There mustn't be any doubt regarding our position on violence. We absolutely oppose it... and condemn it." He clarified that he was saying this in the context of the Itamar murder, just as he had said it many times in the past regarding violence against his own people.[2]

PA Foreign Minister Riyadh Al-Maliki cast doubt on the identity of the perpetrators: "No Palestinian has ever committed such a murder against [parents] and a baby before... This raises questions regarding the rapidity with which the Israeli side rushed to blame the Palestinians for the act."[3] Nablus Governor Jibril Al-Bakri said, "This was the act of an individual, so we find it unacceptable that the response should be collective punishment."[4]

Editor of PA Daily: "Stabbing Children in Their Sleep Is Not a Heroic Deed but a Deed of a Heartless Person, Like Some Soldiers and Settlers of the Occupation who [Likewise] Murder Children"

The Editor of the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Hafez Al-Barghouti, wrote: "I do not believe that the incident in Itamar was an act of resistance, but rather an act [carried out] by individuals, and one which we denounce, if its perpetrator was [indeed] Palestinian. Stabbing children in their sleep is not a heroic deed but the deed of a heartless person, like some soldiers and settlers of the occupation who [likewise] murder children... The true murderers in Itamar are the extremist settlers and anyone who torched a tree, attacked the cemetery in 'Awarta, expelled the residents of Khirbat Yanoun, confiscated a plot of land, or plundered an olive harvest... The operation in Itamar was a message to the occupation and to the world... whose meaning is clear – the occupation must leave."[5]

PA Official: "The Abominable Act that Took Place in the Abominable Settlement is at Odds with the Palestinians' Nature"

'Adli Sadeq, a PA Foreign Ministry senior official and columnist for the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, denounced the murder of Israeli children both on moral grounds and because it harmed the Palestinians in their fight against the occupation, but claimed that, since Israel carried out organized murder of Palestinian children, the Israeli government was ultimately responsible for the attack in Itamar: "We do not need the Security Council or the U.N. secretary-general to convince us that the murder of an innocent child in his house in an Israeli settlement is a depraved deed. The abominable act that took place in the abominable settlement is at odds with the Palestinians' nature and with the noble character of their struggle. Our conscience is outraged by the massacre of human beings, even if they are criminals, let alone [by the murder of] children...

"[The murder of children] must remain [out of bounds] regardless of the considerations of the struggle, and regardless of the fact that war criminals in [IDF] uniforms – the uniforms of a military belonging to a U.N. member state – have killed and continue to kill [Palestinians]... Such an act must be denounced and condemned without hesitation, in the strongest terms, not only because it is a crime that hurts us politically and [turns] public opinion against us, and enables the extremist [Israeli] government to hold us all responsible, but also because such an abominable murder is unacceptable to the humane nature of a people that receives support and aid from all those who love freedom, [regardless of] faith, race, or nationality.

"Perhaps denunciation alone is not enough. It must be stressed that the murder of children, if carried out by Palestinians, does not count as national struggle, which, during the stage of armed struggle, has usually striven to clash with the soldiers of the occupation and not to harm Israeli children... Some might say that an [Israeli] child will [ultimately] turn into an aggressive and hostile settler who will grow up to kill. This is a realistic assumption, but it is precisely... the logic of the hostile Zionist when he murders our children – [he believes] that they will grow up to fight him."

"The Hostile Zionist Murders Whenever He Can"

"[But] there is a difference – the Palestinian, in principle, does not harm children. If Palestinian activity very occasionally causes the killing of Israeli children, [this] must not be accepted or praised. When an [Israeli] child grows up, he does not necessarily become hostile, a murderer, or a fighter... Anyone who kills an Israeli child provides encouragement and justification to those who habitually kill Palestinians... The hostile Zionist murders whenever he can, and takes any opportunity to open fire on our homes... [So] from beginning to end, [the attack in Itamar] is a shameful operation that causes nothing but serious harm to Palestine, its people, and its cause!...

"We must remind the occupiers that the massacre of our own children [is the result of] an official decision by the top leaders of a U.N. member state, and [is carried out by] the weapons of a regular army [that has] a general chief of staff... while the murder in Itamar, which we are denouncing, was the act of an individual who perhaps had individual thoughts and motivations... Now, following the incident, the unrestrained, hotheaded settlers, who are used to the support of the government, are attacking the village of Bureen and wreaking havoc [there]. Therefore, if we look for the party responsible for this individual and anomalous murder, it is the Netanyahu government, which inflamed the conflict more and more, carried out organized murder, and nurtured tension as an alternative to the peace process. Netanyahu's government, more than the Palestinian people, deserves to absorb the enmity, hatred, and denunciation of the Israelis who identify with the victims. We denounce the murder of the children without hesitation, while the occupiers murder, deceive, and deny the facts, and fail to denounce the deeds of their army, since their conscience does not oppose the murder of the innocent!"[6]

Hamas Official: The Attack Was "A Heroic Operation"

Hamas denied involvement in the Itamar murder, but expressed support for the resistance. Hamas political bureau member 'Izzat Al-Rishq denied that his movement had any connection to the attack, stating that "it is not the policy of Hamas and the Palestinian resistance factions to harm children." He said that one could not rule out the possibility that the murder was a criminal act perpetrated by fellow settlers.[7] In contrast, Mustafa Sawwaf, a columnist for a website associated with Hamas, praised those who had planned and carried out the attack: "Blessings to the resistance, which proved that we must continue fighting the occupation and its droves of settlers... This heroic operation was a message to Mahmoud 'Abbas and his security apparatuses, as well as to Fayyad and his government, that their crimes against the resistance will not avail them."[8]

Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees likewise praised the attack. Islamic Jihad claimed that "the operation sent a clear message to the Palestinian security apparatuses that security coordination [with the Israelis] is a futile policy that cannot hinder the resistance and its fighters, and that the attack was a natural response to the Itamar settlers' daily aggression against the people of the Palestinian [village of] 'Awarta." The Popular Resistance Committees said that the attack was "a reaction to the U.S.'s disregard for the Palestinians' rights," and that the operation's message was that "resistance is the sole guarantee for liberating the land and restoring rights." Kataib Al-Nasser Salah Al-Din, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, called on all the resistance factions to carry out military operations in the West Bank and in Israel at large.[9]

Endnotes:

[1] WAFA (PA), March 12, 2011.

[2] WAFA (PA), March 12, 2011.

[3] WAFA (PA), March 12, 2011.

[4] www.qudspress.com, March 12, 2011.

[5] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), March 13, 2011.

[6] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), March 13, 2011.

[7] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), March 13, 2011.

[8] www.felasteen.ps, March 12, 2011.

[9] www.maannews.net, March 12, 2011.

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