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Israeli Brinkmanship Draws the Region Closer to a Disaster
Saturday, March 30, 2002

Gaza City: An intensely dramatic and violent day marked events in Palestine, today, March 30th, Saturday. As Israeli tanks closed on the presidential Office Compound of Arafat, Palestinians throughout occupied territories along with Palestinians inside the green line (1948 Palestinians) took to the streets and declared a strike to voice out support and sympathy with the Palestinian besieged president.

According to Palestinian media sources, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Gaza; all chanting in one voice strong support for president Arafat. Arab media networks aired live coverage, minute by minute, events of the siege and bombardment of the presidential office in Ramallah in West Bank. News coming out of Ramallah reported that Israeli army tanks invaded the city completely. And there are more than 30 tanks surrounding Arafat and several of his close aids. In the evening, Apache helicopters fired missiles at the compound only few meters from the room where Arafat was staying. The largest and most influential Arab TV Network, Al Jazeera, reported live coverage of Israeli tanks firing heavy machine guns at windows at the presidential compound. Palestinians in Gaza City were seen sticking to the TV news listening to breaking news one after another.

President Arafat sent a message through TV cameras to ask Palestinians to ・
remain steadfast in the face of an Israeli brutal aggression supported with American weapons.・He added, ・They (Israeli) want me a prisoner or fugitive or dead, but I tell them I will be a martyr ・ martyr・a martyr..・ .on the soil of our holy land.
This statement has instantly become famous as it was repeated over and over on TV screens throughout the Arab World by the various media networks with his deep and slow but confident voice, the words of Arafat, apparently, hit deep into the minds and hearts of millions of Palestinians and Arabs. Arafat at this particular moment is rapidly gaining millions of sympathizers and admirers both in Palestine and in the Arab and Moslem world. One prominent Egyptian TV personality pleaded eloquently in Arabic to the rest of the Arab leaders to try to save Arafat from being murdered by ・the war criminal Sharon・as he put it.

The streets of Gaza, of course, were filled with protesters who were enraged at Israel's attempt to endanger the life of Arafat and the total indignation and humiliation of the entire Palestinian nation and its president. One speaker at the rally, Mr. Zakaria Al Agha, a member of the Central Committee of the PLO, said,・If Sharon has crossed all red lines and declares an open war at us, well, we tell Sharon and Israel that we will answer back with a limitless and endless war against Sharon and his generals of Occupation.・

Also, another speaker, Mr. Al Taib Abed Rahim, General secretary of the Presidency, spelled his anger at Sharon, ・the Palestinian people shall never surrender. We are fighting for a just cause to end an occupation. Arafat is our President and the symbol of the Palestinian struggle. We are with you Abu Ammar ( Arafat ). We are with you to the last man. We are all martyrs we get ride of this ugly occupation.・

The crowd cheered and clapped enthusiastically. With one voice thousands of protesters chanted, ・towards Jerusalem we march on by the millions of martyrs.

One young protester, a student from the local Islamic University, condemned strongly the continuous ・Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and their president.

He said,・We urge the world to lift the dangerous siege on our President and to put an end to Sharon's reckless and evil acts of terror. Occupation is the real terror. Sharon is committing war crimes against our people. And we know that he (Sharon) got the green light form Bush to carry out his military incursion in Ramallah and point the gun at Arafat's head. The world must stop the terror of Sharon and Bush soon before the Israel and the US commit more war crimes and massacres against the Palestinian people.

Gaza City,

March 30th. 2002

B. Samed


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