Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Moussa Arafat assassinated; more mob attacks

Well I'm back from Labor Day and finally ready to blog again.

Moussa Arafat, Arafat's obnoxious cousin, a founder of Fatah, and one of Abbas' main opponents, was finally assassinated by a gang of armed Palestinians, "80 to 100 gunmen traveling in 20 vehicles".
Dozens of Palestinian gunmen stormed the home of deposed Gaza security chief Moussa Arafat before dawn Wednesday and shot him dead, witnesses and police said.
He had already survived several assassination attempts in the past.

Moussa Arafat was once the "security chief" for Gaza.

It's notable that the assassination comes approximately one week after Bush asked Abbas to show some political courage by taking action against the militants and Abbas replied that he needed more time to prepare for any major push to disarm the militants. [I heard a similar comment from Abbas Tuesday morning, on the radio, repeating this stance - but I'm unable to find a link to it anywhere as of yet.]

One wonders what this is supposed to show. I'm not familiar enough with the Byzantine structure of Palestinian "politics" to work out for myself whether this is supposed to demonstrate graphically that Abbas is, indeed, unable getting rid of the culture of violence -- because look, Mr. President, at what is likely to happen to me if I insist on rooting out the [other] terrorists. Or whether it is supposed to show that Abbas is cracking down on the militants already in the only effective manner.

Debka notes thus begins "the onset of the armed contest for power in the Gaza strip between the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and the Popular Committees."
Arafat’s hard-line support base - his own military intelligence outfit, the violent Popular Committees headed by Jemal Sema Dana - with whom he ran the arms smuggling tunnels from Sinai, the extremist Jihad Islami, factions of the Fatah-al Aqsa Brigades and the large Hizballah contingent present in Gaza, will certainly retaliate for his murder. They may be expected to lash out against PA security forces. This will set off a bloody cycle that breaks the Gaza Strip down into conflicting war bases very much like Beirut during its civil war and also threaten the West Bank.


UPDATE: The Popular Resistance Committees - a Palestinian "militant coalition" made up mostly of former members of Fatah, but which also has members from Hamas and Islamic Jihad - has claimed credit for the killing.
About 80 to 100 gunmen traveling in 20 vehicles reached the area, not far from the home of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, around 4:00 a.m. Wednesday. The armed attackers blocked all roads leading to the house, and directed gunfire, rockets, and mortar shells at the home for about 20 minutes.


Here are some additional factoids about Moussa Arafat's life:
Arafat was a member of a Fatah cell in a Gaza neighborhood in 1965-66 and later headed the Fatah’s southern command in Jordan. He was appointed as head of Military Intelligence while the PLO was headquartered in Tunisia and moved to the territories in 1994 following the Oslo agreements.

The assassinated former security chief was considered one of Gaza’s most influential figures and was singled out by Israeli officials as one of the masterminds of Palestinian weapons smuggling into Gaza.


And now Abbas states he is determined to track down the killers. I love this bit of the AP article:
Moussa Arafat was linked to corruption charges and had many powerful enemies, and it was thought that his killing was related to internal conflicts.


Um, yeah. "Internal conflicts" is one of those phrases that clouds rather than elucidates since it covers the gamit of just about anything that happens in Gazan politics.

Also the public disingenuousness of this statement:
Palestinian officials said they viewed the killing of Arafat as an attack on the government.
Uh huh. So are those the same Palestinian officials who called off a response team from the PA military police during the battle that, by some accounts, raged longer than 30 minutes and fought with rifles and anti-tank grenades? Or are they different ones?

And speaking of mob killings, this was not the only mob attack by Palestinians in the last week.

Last week, a Palestinian family discovered its daughter had had an affair with a Christian from a nearby village. Their response to this – to force their daughter to drink poison and die. Then they buried her body surrpetitously, without reporting her death to the authorities.

Reportedly, the family was incensed when the PA, remarkably enough, actually launched an investigation and exhumed the body for autopsy. Why? Because it would expose their daughter's affair and shame them publicly. And after all, they had already worked off that shame by killing their daughter.

The response of their village -- Deir Jarir -- to this state of affairs: attack the Christians in Taiba with clubs. First they went after the man who had participated in the affair, only to find out that, fearing a death threat, he had already fled. Then they turned their wrath onto the village, looting, pillaging and starting fires with kerosene.

Interesting historical note: the village of Taiba was originally called Ephraim, and is thought to be the village referenced in the Gospels, "Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim" (John 11:54).

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