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They kill them anyway

| 17 February 2005

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Handshakes between Sharon and Abu Mazen mean nothing on the ground, reports Ian Douglas from Nablus in the West Bank
The operation started around 5pm, Tuesday. The two men killed in what is unquestionably a case of targeted assassination were found hugging each other between two rocks below the Baraka settlement that looks over Huwara checkpoint in eastern Nablus. They had apparently been dragged there by an Israeli army unit that earlier surrounded the village of Kufor Kaleel in search of the men. At least one tank and a helicopter provided cover throughout. It is unclear if the men were dead or alive when they were dragged. Palestinian sources report they were not armed and no gunfight had occurred. Further, they claim that the men were apprehended, interrogated and then shot.

The bodies arrived at Rafidia Hospital around 11pm. Paramedics who retrieved them had been prevented from doing so for three hours. The local District Command Office told them that if they tried to reach the men it would not be responsible if they were fired upon. The two men killed — reportedly members of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades — are Issam Hamza from Balata refugee camp in eastern Nablus and Mahyob Kaneh from Kufor Kaleel village. They were between 25 and 26 years old.

Israel claims they were about to carry out a suicide operation.

“This is not a gunshot wound,” Samir Abu Zarour tells me as he lifts the left thigh of one of the assassinated men. The skin has been punctured behind the knee around half an inch deep and a similar wound is on the man’s left buttock. An even deeper wound has been inflicted around the anus. The man’s clothes have been torn in these areas and no burn marks, indicative of gunfire, are visible. “He was stabbed by a knife, probably a bayonet,” Zarour states.

This man had most likely bled to death. A gunshot wound around four inches in diameter is on his left thigh, which cut the main artery in his leg. Another is on his right side, at the top of the hip. A further gunshot wound is on his upper right arm.

The second man was also found with multiple gunshot wounds. Below the man’s neck are about 20 small wounds, indicative of a kind of bullet that explodes inside on impact.

“There are death squads that come, not normal units,” a Palestinian tells me outside the hospital. “They don’t come to arrest anyone, they just come to kill them.”

The terms of any ceasefire are strained to breaking point when one side commits acts like these. The horror is infinitely sharpened when that side is one of the best-equipped militaries in the world deployed against an occupied people which at best stages its defence by ready-made or light arms. It seems again that Sharon, Mofaz and the upper levels of the Israeli security structure want to goad Palestinians into responding, seemingly assured that the death of Palestinians never elicits an equivalent revulsion to the death of Israelis.

How many more tests of good will must Palestinians endure? Perhaps this should have been on Abu Mazen’s mind in Sharm El-Sheikh as he stretched to shake the hand of the prime minister of Israel.

The interviewer is visiting professor in political science at An-Najah National University, Nablus, Palestine.

This article was first published by Al-Ahram Weekly, 17-23 February 2005, Issue #730: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2005/730/re32.htm
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We negate and we must negate because something in us wants to live and affirm — Friedrich Nietzsche