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News from the Occupied Territories Monday, December 24, 2001
The situation in Gaza has been very calm within the last few days. All national efforts are focused on keeping up a force of unity among all kinds of political colors. Palestinian people, currently, are mainly concerned with how to continue the national unity in the face of tremendous pressure on the Palestinian presidency and the people as a whole.
Many Palestinians express surprise and shocked at comments and questions from international media regarding the possibility of "a civil war". The utmost majority strongly rejects such a case. It is out of the question. Palestinians see themselves as politically mature enough to avoid an internal confrontation and hence disappoint Sharon and other enemies. People think that such a scenario is the wishful thinking of Israel and the US. Why? Because if Palestinians start fighting each other (God forbids), the negotiating position of Israel and US will be strengthened on the expense of the Palestinian side. As many Palestinians see it, eventually that will lead to a different political game that favors Israel and satisfies the agenda of a pro-Israeli American position.
Last night, Dec. 23rd. in the south of Gaza Strip, Israeli military shelled the town of Khan Younis. The town is considered the hottest area of confrontation. That is because of one reason; the existence of the largest Jewish settlement in the whole Gaza Strip. Locals were saying that if Israel needed a time out from violence, Israel would be taken advantage of the calm situation, which prevailed, in the last few days. There was no shooting from the Palestinian side at all. The shelling came as a surprise to the local community as they saw no reason for provocation.
Today, Dec. 24th, President Arafat has decided to go ahead with participating in the Christmas Mass Service at the church of Nativity in Beitlahem. To many Christian Palestinians who live in Gaza and the rest of Palestinian occupied land do not see that as something new. They have been prevented from worshipping in Beitlahem for many years. It is a regular Israeli preach on the freedom of Worship and practice of religions.
Till this moment, Arafat is preparing to leave Ramallah to Beitlahem even if he has to walk there. Sharon has vowed to stop him. Arafat has vowed to go on and join fellow Christian Palestinians in their joy and prayer in tonight's Christmas Eve.
Beitlahem town is under Palestinian National Authority's Control.
Best Regards and Merry Christmas,
Dec. 24th., 2001
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