Middle East


The Arab and Israeli Press on Taba and the Escalating Violence in Gaza

An Egyptian policeman stops journalists from entering the Hilton hotel in Taba on Oct. 10, 2004. (Photo: Cris Bouroncle/AFP-Getty Images)

At the end of September, Israel launched a new offensive in Gaza to stop Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli border cities. As the violence escalated, the Arab League backed a draft United Nations resolution condemning the offensive, but it was vetoed on Oct. 5 by the United States. On Oct. 7, three Egyptian resorts popular with Israeli tourists were bombed. The situation in Gaza seems to be spiraling out of control. The Israeli and Arab press respond.

Tehran Tehran Times (conservative), Oct. 10: The U.S. veto of the draft resolution which was proposed by Arab countries is a sign of the duplicity of White House officials toward the phenomenon of international terrorism. How can the U.S. allow Israel to massacre Palestinians with impunity despite its so-called campaign against terrorism and at the same time expect others to remain silent about these crimes? Why is it that as soon as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon orders the massacre of Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip, the U.S. calls on Palestinian resistance groups to exercise restraint, but never adopts similar measures toward Sharon’s crimes? Yet, regional nations and Muslims throughout the world, who are closely following developments in occupied Palestine, cannot continue to remain silent observers of the illogical double-standard policies of the U.S.
-- Hassan Hanizadeh

Amman Jordan Times (independent), Oct. 10: Palestinian groups have denied any link to the blasts [Thursday]. But that is not the way Israel is going to see it. For Israel, the bombings are another opportunity to tighten its military drive against Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip. No doubt, it will turn its guns full blast on the Gaza Strip and will also seize the opportunity to target resistance leaders in the West Bank. There will be more bloodshed and massacres, and the world will be watching, as helpless spectators, as yet another door is slammed in the face of Palestinian statehood.
-- Musa Keilani

Amman Jordan Times (independent), Oct. 10: The legitimate outrage at Israel's occupation, oppression and military onslaught against Palestinian civilians should not take the form of violence, particularly against innocent victims. Palestinian factions Hamas and Islamic Jihad themselves would not have targeted Egyptian interests. By striking at the resort town of Taba, the terrorists have made Egypt and the Egyptian people the principal targets, irrespective of the nationality of the people killed or injured in the blasts. The terrorists, thus, made no distinction between Arab and non-Arab targets. Their acts were meant to instill fear among foe and friend alike.

Jerusalem Jerusalem Post (conservative), Oct. 10: it is important to recognize what this coordinated, evidently long-planned, series of attacks was and was not. It was not an example of how, as Yasser Arafat's media adviser Nabil Abu Rudeineh claimed, "the continuation of Israel's occupation and aggressions against the Palestinian people [that] fuel the world's anger." Nice try. The Palestinians did not even try to explain the original 9/11 in such a fashion. Nor did they "draft" the attack on Australian tourists in Bali, or even the synagogues in Istanbul. Indeed, this most recent attack has most in common with these last two: like in Bali, it targeted nationals of one country vacationing in another; like in Istanbul, Jews were used as a cover to "legitimize" an attack by the jihadis inside a Muslim country.

Dubai Gulf News (independent), Oct. 10: Yet another suicide bombing has taken place in the name of Islam … It is not only the crime that repulses all but, for Muslims especially, it is the claim that it is done in the name of Islam that revolts by far the greatest majority of peace-loving Muslims throughout the world. Regrettably, when Muslims claim their religion is one of peace, a large proportion of westerners point to such events as happened on Friday in Taba.

Tel Aviv Ha’aretz (liberal), Oct. 10: Israel and Egypt have a shared interest - to defeat the fundamentalist groups that seek to spread death and destruction. The leaders of Al-Qaida, who sent the murderers to Sinai, did not distinguish between the Israeli hotel guests and the Egyptian staff, or between their effort to kill as many Israelis as possible and the severe damage they caused to the tourism sector of Egypt. In order to carry out an effective fight against terrorism, which struck both sides this time, there must be a strengthening of intelligence and operational cooperation … There is a clear interest for Egypt and Israel to prevent turning the border into fertile ground for Al-Qaida and Hezbollah terrorists. The disaster in Sinai highlights the need to rally those supporting peace in plans to prevent terrorism and in handing responsibility in the Gaza Strip to the right hands.

Jerusalem Jerusalem Post (conservative), Oct. 11: If ever there was a case for international intervention, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is it. This is a conflict the international community has been involved in from the day the UN declared the partition of Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state in 1947, continuing with the most recent decision of the International Court of Justice ruling that the Israeli wall, deep in Palestinian territory, is illegal. The US and many of its Western allies have supported and bankrolled Israel's illegal occupation. Little more than lip service has been offered to stop the carnage. No one can shirk responsibility for this colossal political and humanitarian failure.
-- Daoud Kuttab

Damascus Syria Times (government-owned), Oct.11: Israeli grave escalation in the occupied Palestinian lands and its intransigent bids to sabotage all peace bids and dues will only step up killing and violence in the region. Israel is in fact mounting state terrorism against the defenceless Palestinian people and this is totally condemned by the UN Charter and Geneva Conventions. The killing of journalists in Palestine is also condemned worldwide. Israel should respect the international law and human values and lives. Crime doesn’t pay at all. Sharon and other Israeli leaders will one day be held responsible for all the crimes they committed against the Palestinian people and other Arabs as well.

Jidda Arab News (pro-government), Oct.12: It is my belief that both Israelis and Arabs are victims if only they knew it. A weary Egyptian lt. colonel based in Suez encapsulated the real problem in a nutshell the other day. He told me that the real culprits of the carnage in Taba are “Bush and Blair” … Indeed, the hegemonic policies of the US and Britain in the region, based on the latter’s traditional “divide and rule” rational have contributed to the growing chasm between Arabs and Israelis.
-- Linda S. Heard