Hamas leader Khaled Misha’al said on November 9 that Palestine’s main Islamic movement would not give up military operations against the Israeli occupiers of Palestine.
Speaking in Cairo during talks with the Fateh movement, led by Palestinian ‘president’ Yasser Arafat, Misha’al said that “Hamas does not agree to meet Fatah on [the topic] of stopping the resistance,” according to the London-based Arabic newspaper al-Hayat.
This question “perhaps figures in the agenda of the other party,” he said. “We will never agree to stop the resistance.”
The reason for the Palestinian determination to maintain the resistance was amply demonstrated the next day, when thousands of Palestinians in the northern West Bank town of Jenin woke up to scenes of widespread destruction of streets, homes, telephone and power poles, and many businesses by the Israeli army.
Jenin’s acting governor, Haidar Irsheid, described the widespread vandalism in the city as “devastating and very much similar to what the Nazi occupation army did in Poland during the Second World War.”
“They didn’t leave anything intact, they destroyed many homes, blew up businesses, shops, destroyed palm trees lining the streets, power and telephone poles, they even riddled water containers on the tops of our homes with bullets in order to make us die of thirst. If this is not Nazism, then what is it?”
Irsheid called on the international community to bring Israel to account for “this wanton destruction of our city.”
“I can’t understand why the world at large is doing nothing to stop Jewish Nazism against our people. Where in the world a state sends Merkava and Abrams tanks to wreak havoc on civilian neighborhoods, homes, telephone poles, water mains, and private businesses and supermarkets? These are war crimes and Israeli soldiers and officers involved must be tried as war criminals.”
The Israeli army killed and injured more than 10 Palestinians and rounded up over 100 civilians on suspicion of involvement in resistance activities against the occupation troops.
The previous day, Israeli troops assassinated Iyad Sawalha, a prominent Islamic Jihad military leader whom the Israelis accused of having planned several attacks on Israeli targets.
The army said that its tanks left the city early on Sunday, taking positions at its outskirts.
After the announcement, many townspeople took to the streets to examine the widespread vandalism left behind by Israeli tanks and bulldozers. Officials at the municipal council estimated the material losses at more than five million dollars.
The Israeli attack on Jenin was part of a pattern of Israeli attacks on Palestinian towns that have become a routine feature of the occupation and the Palestinian resistance to it. On this occasion, however, there was an immediate response. Five Israelis were killed late on Sunday, November 10, when at least one Palestinian armed with an automatic rifle attacked the Metzer settlement in northern Palestine. Several more people were wounded by the gunman, who infiltrated the village shortly before midnight despite a double attempted bombing in the same area earlier in the day.
Palestinian president Yasser Arafat swiftly condemned the killings and announced that a committee had been set up to probe whether a splinter group from his own Fatah movement had carried it out to sabotage the Cairo talks.
“This operation comes at the same time as negotiations are taking place in Cairo,” Arafat said. “We are looking into this issue very seriously and a committee has been set up to see if there is a connection.”
Israel, meanwhile, will go to the polls on November 28 after the Sharon government collapsed. The Labour Party withdrew from the coalition over disagreements on the funding of settlements. The change of government will make little difference to Palestinians, however, as Sharon’s main rival for the presidency is former right-wing prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu.