JERUSALEM (Apr. 5)
Seething with anger over the latest condemnation by the U.N. Security Council, Israeli authorities have again turned the spotlight on Palestinian violence against Palestinians.
It is a point often made that more Palestinians are killed by other Palestinians than by Israeli armed forces. But it seemed especially pertinent this weekend after the Security Council rapped Israel for the deaths last week of four Palestinians in Rafah, a town on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip.
Intifada activists murdered 23 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip last month alone, most of them suspected of collaboration with the Israeli authorities. Nine of the murders occurred during the last week of March, security sources said.
The most brutal murders were at the Sheik Radwan mosque in Gaza, where three local Arabs were executed in front of hundreds of worshippers for alleged collaboration.
The killings occurred at 7 a.m. local time Friday. As the faithful gathered for the Id el-Fitr prayers marking the end of the Moslem holy month of Ramadan, a group of masked youths entered the mosque, assaulted their victims and fled.
The dead were identified as Abdul Hakim Gandour and Nahar Mahmoud Yassin, both 24 and from Gaza, and Ali Abed Mussa, 25, from the Jabalya refugee camp near Gaza.
A statement unanimously approved by the 15 Security Council members was read early Saturday by Simbanenduku Mumbengegwe of Zimbabwe, who is this month’s president of the U.N. body.
It said they were “gravely concerned by the continued deterioration of the situation in the Gaza Strip” and asked U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to intervene to improve the conditions of Palestinians in the Israeli-administered territories.
The statement once again urged Israel to comply with the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which protects civilian populations in occupied territories. Israel claims the convention does not apply to the territories it captured in 1967, though it says it abides by its humanitarian provisions.
Israel’s U.N. Mission responded to the condemnation by accusing the Security Council of ignoring the fact that Israeli troops were attacked with grenades and gasoline bombs before they opened fire in Rafah.
The curfew imposed on Rafah was lifted Sunday.
Security forces also announced Sunday the arrest of seven Palestinians in the West Bank wanted for attacking fellow Arabs suspected of collaboration.
Three of the detainees were identified as members of the Black Panthers, a gang active in the Jenin area.