The Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades terror group this week fired two missiles from positions in the West Bank, which borders Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Israel’s international airport, according to Al Aksa sources.
The attacks, launched from Jenin, mark a major escalation in Palestinian violence and come as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is attempting to push through a plan to withdraw from most of the West Bank. Critics of the withdrawal plan have warned it will place Palestinian terror groups within rocket firing range of major Israeli population centers.
A spokesperson for the IDF said the army was not aware of any rockets fired this week from Jenin. The IDF has in the past denied that rockets were launched from northern Samaria, only to later release information that rockets had indeed been fired from the area. Security analysts maintain publicity about rocket attacks from the West Bank would likely generate criticism of Olmert’s plan to withdraw from the territory.
In a WorldNetDaily interview, Abu Oudai, Al Aksa’s chief rocket coordinator, warned that his group has stockpiled rockets in the West Bank to be launched against major Israeli cities following Israel’s withdrawal. He said his group developed a new rocket, Arafat-1, which can travel further than the currently used Kassam missile.
Since Israel evacuated the Gaza Strip this past summer, terror organizations have been regularly firing rockets from the area aimed at adjacent Jewish communities. The attacks have prompted calls from some in the defense establishment, including former defense ministers, to reoccupy parts of the territory.
Hamas, concerned about its international image after taking over the Palestinian Authority, has “subcontracted” the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees to commit terror acts in its place, with new Committees militants even pledging allegiance to Hamas as part of their induction, according to Israeli security officials.
The Committees group is responsible for many of the rockets launched from Gaza since last summer. Committees members recently attempted to carry out a large-scale car bombing at the Karni Crossing, the main cargo passageway between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
Israel’s Shin Bet Security Services said the order to carry out the Karni attack was given to the Committees by senior Hamas member Ahmed Randor. It said Hamas has previously directed funds to the Committees.
“There are strong indications the Popular Resistance Committees has become a kind of Hamas subcontractor. Handling the Committees behind the scenes enables Hamas to encourage terrorist attacks against Israel while outwardly maintaining its policy of restraint and coping with the political exigencies resulting from the composition of its government,” stated a report by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at Israel’s Center for Special Studies.
Christians who support Israel are distorting their true faith, have adapted Satan as god and comprise the greatest danger to world peace, according to Hamed Al-Tamimi, a senior Palestinian Authority cleric and director of inter-religious dialogue for the PA’s Judicial Council.
Al-Tamimi, whose article on Christianity and Israel is posted on an official PA government website, also accuses Zionist Christians of directing the war in Iraq. He calls for pro-Israeli Christian denominations to be expelled from the “world church.”
“Christian Zionists are a group who adopted Satan as god who drives their crazy nature,” writes Al-Tamimi in the article, according to a translation by Palestinian Media Watch. “They have praised depravity and cursed virtue, they have turned the moral scale upside down and have reached [a point] in which forgery, deception and lying have turned into descriptions of world policy, which is led by the Zionism on both its branches – the Jewish and the Christian.”
Without citing examples, the PA cleric goes on to accuse Christian leaders of persecuting Palestinians. While Christian violence against Palestinians is very rare, there are reports of violent Muslim campaigns against Christians in areas controlled by the PA. Anti-Christian riots have been reported in Ramallah, Nazareth and surrounding villages as well as in towns in Gaza. In Bethlehem, local Christians have long complained of anti-Christian persecution, including intimidation against Christian businessmen, anti-Christian shooting attacks, rape and murder of Christian women, and the confiscation of local church land for construction of mosques. Bethlehem’s Christian population, once 90 percent, has declined to about 30 percent since the PA took control in December 1995.
Israel must withdraw from the West Bank for reasons of population demography, otherwise Arabs will soon outnumber Jews and threaten Israel’s Jewish character, Olmert claimed during a speech last week officially presenting his new government for parliamentary approval.
Olmert’s rationale comes in spite of a new study recently presented to the U.S. Congress but largely shunned by the Israel government. The study contends Israel’s West Bank evacuation is based on erroneous Palestinian population data and finds major faults with Palestinian Authority statistics, which have been accepted by Israel, and predicts in 20 years Israeli Jews will outnumber Arabs by two-to-one even if all territories are maintained.
Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. He is a co-host of ABC Radio’s nationally syndicated John Batchelor Show and can be heard regularly on American radio.