It seems there is always something to contend with, a “crisis du jour,” so to speak. I am moved to address this current “crisis” – which is really small potatoes – because the PA and the world at large are already building it into something that it is not. As you may be exposed to distorted versions of the occurrence, I want to share the facts as I have been able to acquire them:
Zaid Abu Ein, a Palestinian Arab who was formerly a minister, today led a protest march of some 300 Palestinian Arabs in the Arab village of village of Turmus Ayya – near Shilo, in the Binyamin region of Samaria. What they were protesting was the presence of the nearby Jewish village of Adei Ad. There had been considerable tensions between the residents of the two villages, and this demonstration was less than peaceful: According to reports there was rioting, and the IDF used a relatively small amount of tear gas to settle things down.
Subsequently, a large group of Arabs led by Abu Ein attempted to continue their march, which was intended to go all the way into the Jewish village. A contingent of IDF soldiers blocked their way and they tried to push past the IDF troops; this led to an altercation, with shoving back and forth.
Abu Ein then walked away and sat down on the ground. At that point he was showing signs of distress, and apparent pains in his chest. An IDF medic offered him medical assistance but he refused it and said he wanted to go to the hospital in Ramallah. On the way to the hospital, he died.
The IDF believes he died of a heart attack. Reportedly this was a man who had diabetes and high blood pressure.
The Arabs, however, are letting it be known that we killed him. They never miss a chance to make Israel look vicious and to represent themselves as “martyrs.” As we might expect in such a situation, there are various accounts of what transpired.
Arabs are saying that soldiers rammed Abu Ein in the chest with their rifle butts. An Israeli observer said this never happened and Israel National News reports that there is no video footage indicating that he had been attacked or beaten.
(There is some Arab footage, which was clearly edited. See: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4602043,00.html . Had there been footage of soldiers attacking or beating Abu Ein, it would have been distributed big time.)
Abbas is referring to “the brutal assault that led to the martyrdom [of Abu Ein].” He called the incident “a barbaric act that cannot be tolerated or accepted.”
PA Minister Riyad al-Maliki says “Israel will pay for his death.”
There are reports from some PA sources that the PA will now discontinue all security cooperation with Israel, but I do not believe Abbas himself has said this. There was one comment about PA intention to “now” – i.e., in light of this event – renew pursuit of unilateral efforts to secure recognition as a state. Abbas has been doing this all along, But it becomes oh so convenient to claim that their intention was to negotiate but Israel’s behavior makes this impossible.
The IDF has announced that an autopsy will be done by a Jordanian team, with an Israeli pathologist present. The PA agreed to this, and subsequently I read that a Palestinian Arab doctor would also be present.
The IDF also proposed that the PA participate into a joint investigation of the occurrence, but there has been no word as to whether that will happen.
The funeral will be Thursday, and the IDF has stationed additional troops in the area in anticipation of violence. That there will be violence is almost a certainty.
It is, in several regards, enlightening to know a bit more about who this Abu Ein was:
Palestinian sources have identified him as a member of the Revolutionary Council of Fatah; this is also known as the Abu Nidal Organization – a recognized terrorist organization. In 1979, he planted explosives that killed two Israelis in Tiveria, and then fled to Chicago. Successfully extradited, he was tried and sentenced to life in prison in 1982. But a mere three years later he was part of a prisoner exchange – referred to as the Ahmed Jabril prisoner swap – done to secure the release of three soldiers.
In 2006, he gave an interview on TV in which he praised the Oslo Accords. Please read this carefully. Talk about it being instructive! (When he refers to “resistance,” he means violence.)
“The Oslo Accords are not the dream of the Palestinian people. However, there would never have been resistance in Palestine without Oslo.
“Oslo is the effective and potent greenhouse which embraced the Palestinian resistance…
“In all the occupied territories, we could not move a single pistol from place to place. Without Oslo, and being armed through Oslo, and with the Palestinian Authority’s ‘A’ areas, without the training, the camps, the protection afforded by Oslo, and without the freeing of thousands of Palestinian prisoners through Oslo – we and this Palestinian resistance would not have been able to create this great Palestinian Intifada.” (Emphasis added)
Clearly, Abu Ein was directly involved in the second intifada. Marwan Barghouti, who is in Israeli prison serving five life sentences, was a leader of that intifada. Barghouti hid in Abu Ein’s house before his capture.
Subsequently, he served in various positions in the PA. First as deputy minister of prisoner affairs, where he was involved in the task of getting money to convicted terrorists serving in Israeli prisons. He charged that Israeli prison conditions for Arabs were worse than what Jews suffered under the Nazis.
Most recently he served as head of the PA Committee against the Separation Wall and Settlements.
The fact that Abu Ein was a man of violence, who embraced terrorism, does not provide proof of how he died.
But in light of all of the above, I would make two comments. The first is that he was clearly a trouble maker, and it seems very likely indeed that the IDF found it necessary to push him back and confront him today. This was not a gentle man of peace.
But more importantly: please consider what it tells us, that the Palestinian Authority selected such a man to assume official positions, including as a deputy minister.