Tuesday, November 27, 2007

PA Police assault peaceful demonstrators against Annapolis conference

A taste of the American promise

From Khalid Amayreh in Al-Khalil (Hebron)

"At least one Palestinian man was killed and dozens others injured when poorly-trained and utterly undisciplined Palestinian Authority (PA) policemen ganged up on peaceful demonstrators protesting the American-hosted Annapolis conference.

The worst incident occurred in southern West Bank town of Hebron when crack PA policemen, some of them wearing black masks, opened fire on peaceful demonstrators, killing 37-year-old Hisham Al-Barad’ei. Al-Bard’ei died instantly after a bullet penetrated his heart, according to eyewitnesses and medical sources.

Several other protesters were injured during the rally, organized by the local branch of Hizbul Tahrir (Islamic Liberation Party), a generally non-violent group advocating the re-institution of the Islamic Caliphate. The Party is the second most popular Islamic group in Palestine after Hamas.

As many as 3000 people took part in the rally. The protesters shouted slogans and carried placards warning against selling out inalienable Arab rights in Palestine , including the right of return.

A spokesman for Hizbul Tahrir condemned the “cold-blooded murder,” accusing the PA security personnel of behaving and acting like the Israeli occupation army does. “I don’t see any difference. They are acting like the Israeli occupation army, they are quislings and traitors, this is why the Zionists and the Americans armed them and brought them here.”

The appointed Governor of Hebron, Husein al Araj, held Hizbul Tahrir responsible for what happened.“I warned the leaders of Hizbul Tahrir yesterday against holding any rally. I told them that the Palestinian leadership wouldn’t relinquish Palestinian rights. “We told them there would be no rallies. But they challenged us and held the rally.”

Local sources in Hebron said the police were looking for journalists and cameramen who covered the demonstration and that at least one journalist, Bassam Duweik, was arrested Tuesday evening.

The bloody repression of the rally drew angry reactions from the citizens of this city, the largest in the West Bank .

Muhammed Natshe, who said he had no specific political affiliation, said the Palestinian people should “get rid of this treacherous gang before fighting Israel .” “These people are killing us on Israel’s behalf. They are enemy number-1, and Israel is enemy number-2. They want to kill every man or woman who says no to selling out our rights. They want to silence every voice against the Israeli occupation.”

Violent clashes between demonstrators and the police also occurred in Ramallah, Nablus and Bethlehem as well as in a number of other Palestinian towns.

In Ramallah, policemen ganged up on demonstrators protesting the Annapolis conference, injuring dozens of them. Moreover, the police reportedly beat up journalists and cameramen, badly injuring al-Jazeera correspondent Wael Shoyoukhi. A second journalist, Mua’amar Urabi, from the Maan News Agency, was also beaten up by the police.

A police spokesman in Ramallah, Adnan Tmeizi, said the assault on journalists was “unintended and isolated.”

In Bethlehem, the PA police ganged up on a peaceful demonstration against the Annapolis conference.

Eyewitnesses and local sources said they saw masked security personnel beat up protesters savagely, using clubs and the butts of their rifles. Some of the people injured were taken to hospital for treatment.

In Nablus , the police also beat up anti-Israeli and anti-American protesters, many of them allied with the Islamic Liberation Party.

The governor of Nablus , Jamal Muheisen, denounced the demonstration as “unlicensed” and “provocative.”

Earlier on Tuesday, thousands of people took to the streets throughout the Gaza Strip, carrying sings reading “we will not recognize Israel ” and “yes, to the right of return” (for Palestinian refugees.).

Leading the large protest were the leaders of various Palestinian factions, including Hamas and the Islamic Jihad organization.

Ahmed Bahr, deputy speaker of the Palestinian Parliament (the Legislative Council) addressed the huge multitude, saying that “we will not let our people down, we will not compromise our national constants.” “Jerusalem is a red line, the right of return is a red line, the resistance is a red line.”

Similarly, Hamas hard-line leader Mahmoud al Zahar, said “no Palestinian leader or organization was authorized to give up the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights.”“We are here to stress and assert the national constants. We are here to assert that Palestine belongs to the Palestinians, that Jerusalem is a red line and that the right of return to Haifa and Jaffa is a fixed and inalienable right that nobody under the sun is authorized to give up.“Let them hold a thousand conferences. But we here say to all and sundry that we will not authorize anybody to sign a document that would compromise our national constants, and anyone doing that would be condemned as a traitor until the Day of Judgment.”

According to Palestinian commentators, the PA regime has been surprised by the huge opposition to the Annapolis conference.

Earlier, pro-Fatah opinion pollsters showed that a majority of Palestinians supported the American-backed Mahmoud Abbas.

However, now with the Annapolis conference looking like a poor imitation of the Oslo process, Palestinian frustration with the Abbas leadership is likely to grow, especially if scheduled Palestinian-Israeli talks lead nowhere as most Palestinians expect."

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