By Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn
For years, Palestinian leaders and their media allies have claimed that the “Second Intifada” — the mass violence of 2000-2001 — was a “spontaneous” uprising against Israeli “oppression.”
But occasionally they tell the truth: it wasn’t spontaneous at all. It was organized by the Palestinian Authority leadership itself.
Last week Mahmoud al-Zahar, co-founder of Hamas and its former foreign minister, let the cat out of the bag in an interview with the Hamas television station, Al Aqsa TV, on December 12. He revealed that PA chairman Yasir Arafat himself personally approved of Hamas’s terrorist attacks as part of the Second Intifada. Not only that, but Arafat provided Hamas with weapons to carry out the attacks.
Al-Zahar revealed that the PA and Fatah — the political party also chaired by Arafat — set up a terrorist front group in Gaza called “Omar Al-Mukhtar.” It carried out attacks against Israelis and transferred weapons, including RPG grenade launchers, to Hamas. A senior official of Arafat’s Preventive Security Forces personally coordinated the relationships with Hamas leader Salah Shehadeh.
Al-Zahar’s televised remarks came just days after confirmation from another source about the PA’s role in the Second Intifada. When PA cabinet minister Ziad Abu Eain suffered a fatal heart attack after an altercation with Israeli soldiers on December 11, Eain’s brother, Ala’a, boasted to the Washington Post that Eain was “one of the leaders of the Second Intifada.”
Obviously a cabinet minister could not have been a “leader” of mass violence without the knowledge and approval of his colleagues in the PA leadership.
The Second Intifada that the PA in fact organized included a wave of notorious suicide attacks — at Tel Aviv’s Dolphinarium night club, murdering 21 Israelis; at the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem, killing 15; on a Haifa bus, murdering 16; on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem, killing 11; on a Jerusalem bus, killing 23; and in the Maxim restaurant in Haifa, leaving 21 Israelis dead.
There were many other unforgettable atrocities, such as:
— The murder and mutilation of two Israelis who accidentally drove into the PA’s capital city, Ramallah, in October 2000. The image of the killers proudly waving their blood-drenched hands for the cheering mob to see became a symbol of terrorist savagery.
— The murder of Israeli teens Yosef Ishran and Koby Mandell (the latter a U.S. citizen), beaten to death with rocks in a cave near Tekoa.
— The murder of ten month-old Shalhevet Pass, shot in the head by a Palestinian sniper in Hebron.
–The murder of Rabbi Hillel Lieberman, a relative of U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman, near the Tomb of Joseph in Shechem (Nablus).
Apologists for the Palestinian cause will no doubt argue that Arafat was indeed to blame, but since he died long ago (in November 2004), there’s nothing to worry about now. But who was Arafat’s number-two man during all that time? Mahmoud Abbas, the current PA and Fatah chairman. Abbas had to have known, and approved, of the PA’s sponsorship of the violence. And it was Abbas who later promoted Abu Eain — whose brother has identified him as a Second Intifada leader — from comptroller to a cabinet-level position.
Moreover, the Palestinian leadership carried out this unabashed slaughter of innocent Jewish civilians a full seven years after they signed the Oslo Accords, in which they supposedly renounced violence. Yet here we are, a decade later, and all the Martin Indyks and Thomas Friedmans are still claiming that Abbas is a “moderate” and a “partner for peace.”
In recent weeks, there has been much speculation in the international news media about whether or not the most recent Arab violence against Israelis constitutes a “Third Intifada.” Perhaps the pundits should pause to think anew about the Second Intifada — for truth about that experience is still being learned.
The authors are president and chairman, respectively, of the Religious Zionists of America, Philadelphia.