Israeli troops arrest 80 Palestinians

Updated 16 June 2014

Israeli troops arrest 80 Palestinians

JERUSALEM: Israeli troops on Sunday arrested some 80 Palestinians, including dozens of Hamas members, in an overnight raid in the West Bank as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the militant group of kidnapping three teenagers who went missing nearly three days ago.
The crisis escalated already heightened tensions between Israel and the new Palestinian government, which is headed by Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas but has Hamas as its partner.
Netanyahu has condemned Abbas’ agreement with the militant group, and said he would hold him responsible for the safety of the youths, who disappeared apparently while hitchhiking in the West Bank late Thursday. The three, one of whom holds American citizenship, have not been heard from since then.
Palestinian officials condemned the overnight crackdown and rejected Netanyahu’s contention that they are responsible. Hamas, meanwhile, praised the apparent kidnapping but stopped short of accepting responsibility.
Speaking to his Cabinet Sunday, Netanyahu said there was no doubt who was responsible.
“Those who perpetrated the abduction of our youths were members of Hamas, the same Hamas that Abu Mazen made a unity government with. This has severe repercussions,” he said. Abbas is also known as Abu Mazen.
Netanyahu did not say how Israel determined Hamas was responsible.
Palestinian militants have repeatedly threatened to kidnap Israelis, hoping to use them as bargaining chips to win the release of prisoners held by Israel. This would be the first time three civilians have been taken at the same time.
The overnight raid was concentrated in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, in the area where the youths disappeared.
A Hamas website said more than 60 of those arrested were members, including senior figures in the movement. The Israeli military also detained supporters of Islamic Jihad, a smaller Palestinian militant group.
“Palestinian terrorists will not feel safe, will not be able to hide and will feel the heavy arm of the Israeli military capabilities,” military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said.
The Palestinians’ self-rule government, which administers 38 percent of the West Bank, has insisted it is not to blame, saying the teens went missing in territory under full Israeli control.
“The Israeli government cannot blame the Palestinians for security issues in areas that are not controlled by them,” said Ehab Bseiso, the spokesman of the Palestinian unity government.
He also condemned what he called the “latest Israeli military escalation against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza and the Israeli air attacks on Gaza, which led to the wounding of several Palestinians.”
Asked about Netanyahu’s claim that Hamas carried out the kidnapping, Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, said that “this is something we have no information on.”
In its first statement on the issue, Hamas praised the kidnapping but did not claim responsibility. In a message sent to journalists, it referred to “the success of the kidnapping” and said that “the movement pays tribute to the heroes who are behind the kidnapping.”
In the Gaza Strip, senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri dismissed Netanyahu’s claims of Hamas involvement in the abductions as “silly.”
Hamas governed Gaza for seven years before striking the unity deal with Abbas. It remains in de facto control of the coastal territory, which is separated from the West Bank by Israel.
Despite the exchange of accusations, security officials from Israel and Abbas’ forces have been cooperating closely in the West Bank trying to find the kidnappers.
Abbas met with his security chiefs late Saturday and urged them to do anything they can to contribute to the search, said a senior Palestinian official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to brief journalists.
Hamas, branded a terror group by the West for its long history of attacks on Israeli civilians, has been involved in past abductions.
But this time around, there are other potential suspects. In recent months, there have been growing signs of the emergence in the West Bank of small groups of militants who identify with Al-Qaeda.
One of several claims of responsibility for the kidnapping came from a group that said it was linked to an Al-Qaeda splinter group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which controls parts of Syria and overran parts of northern Iraq last week.
A Palestinian group representing prisoners said about 100 were arrested in the raid, including some who have been jailed in the past.
The military also said its aircraft struck several targets in Gaza overnight in retaliation for Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel. Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Kidra said a girl was lightly wounded.


Palestinians, Arabs ‘must learn lessons of Naksa’

A Palestinian man facing Israeli soldiers waves a national flag during a protest against Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, near the town of Tulkarm on June 5, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 06 June 2020

Palestinians, Arabs ‘must learn lessons of Naksa’

  • Jordanian MP Kais Zayadin said that the biggest mistake Arab countries made was to trust that the occupying state would make peace and reach a lasting solution to the Palestinian cause

AMMAN: Leading Palestinian and Arab figures have used the 53rd anniversary of Naksa — the displacement and occupation of Arab territories that followed Israel’s victory in the 1967 war against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan — to highlight political mistakes made during and after the conflict.

Adnan Abu-Odeh, political adviser to Jordan's King Hussein and King Abdullah II, told Arab News that Arab countries and the Palestinian leadership had failed to understand the goals of Zionism.

“Governments that participated in the war were naive, expecting a repeat of the 1956 Sinai invasion when the US ordered an Israeli withdrawal. This was followed by the mistaken belief that we could liberate the land using guerrilla warfare," he said.

Anees Sweidan, director-general of foreign relations in the PLO, told Arab News that the Palestinian cause is undergoing a complicated phase where political opportunities are limited.

“The US bias towards Israel and absence of unity has put the Palestinian movement in a difficult situation. It is harder to generate external support and the financial crunch is causing much suffering despite the fact that we have made important accomplishments in the UN and Europe.”

Abdalqader Husseini, chairperson of the Faisal Husseini Foundation, said that the opportunities the anniversary offers should not be ignored.

“We need to realize that this is an illegal occupation that continues to dig deeper and escalate every day to the degree that the international community has lost interest and world conscience has become numb to Israeli practices. We in Jerusalem have not normalized with the occupiers and we have not accepted the new situation as an inescapable reality that we must accept.”

Jordanian MP Kais Zayadin said that the biggest mistake Arab countries made was to trust that the occupying state would make peace and reach a lasting solution to the Palestinian cause.

“We went to Madrid with hope, the Palestinian leadership went to Oslo with optimism that they could reach a phased solution that would lead to statehood. As we remember this Naksa, we must revisit the path that has allowed the occupying entity to steal our land and cause havoc to our people without any deterrence from the international community," he said.

They (Palestinian youth) personify the meaning of steadfastness for dignity, and they have the will to protect our heritage, our identity, and our holy places.”

Mahdi Abdulhadi, head of PASSIA thinktank

Nibal Thawabteh, director of the Bir Zeit University’s Media Development Center, said the biggest mistake since 1967 was focusing on politics and avoiding community development.

"We don’t have a strong sense of citizenship, some have become accustomed to religious Islam. We need to work more on the citizenship.”

Ahmad Awad, director of the Amman-based Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies, said there is a lack of acknowledgment of the reasons behind the Arab loss.

“Political, economic and cultural factors caused our loss, and we feel that most Arab countries have not learned this lesson. Instead of learning, we are going backwards, failing to defend their existential rights, shifting to isolationism as well as cultural and economic regression in our region."

Instead of looking backward, some Palestinians wanted to look forward.

Mahdi Abdulhadi, head of the PASSIA thinktank in Jerusalem, said that Palestinian youth who never felt the shock of the 1967 defeat but have seen the exposure of Arab regimes in the face of the "deal of the century" will prevail.

“They personify the meaning of steadfastness for dignity, and they have the will to protect our heritage, our identity, and our holy places.”

Lily Habash, a Exeter University political science graduate, told Arab News that things look different on the ground.

“The world is changing and Israel uses geopolitical and regional changes to its advantage,” she said.

Dangers today encourage despair but Palestinians will be steadfast in the long term, she added.

“Some say we need a savior to get us out of this dilemma but I believe we need to trust in ourselves and work on all fronts.”