By DR. REUVEN BERKO, ISRAEL HAYOM—
An Al-Jazeera journalist asked Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Minister Issa Karaka if the Palestinians intend to kidnap IDF soldiers to free Palestinian prisoners serving time in Israeli jails. Karaka skillfully bypassed the tendentious question. Actually, Israeli defense sources have reported on some 18 attempts to kidnap soldiers as of late. It would be interesting to see how Qatar’s ruling princes would react if an Israeli reporter suggested kidnapping a Qatari emir to stop Al-Jazeera’s incitement against Israel.
The growing escalation of violence spurred by Israel’s supposed mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners continues. Al-Jazeera reporter Jevara Al-Budeiri described on Sunday night the rage erupting on the Palestinian street. The unrest was particularly turbulent in the village of Sa’ir, the birthplace of Palestinian “prisoner no. 103” Arafat Jaradat, who died in an Israeli jail only a few days following his arrest.
In a few dramatic lines in the Al-Jazeera piece, the author quoted a Palestinian expert who claimed to have been present at the Palestinian inmate’s autopsy. According to the expert, who apparently attended the autopsy to facilitate Israeli transparency, the prisoner, who was arrested six days prior to his death, did not die of a heart attack as Israel’s “false testimony” would have you believe. Rather, the expert claimed, he succumbed to the abuse of his interrogators. Budeiri added that a team of collaborators with Israel who tortured and extorted him also aided in his death.
According to Budeiri’s report, the West Bank masses are awaiting Jaradat’s Monday morning funeral because many people see it as a symbol of the increasing resentment against Israel over its hostile treatment of Palestinian prisoners, especially toward the four inmates on hunger strike whom Israel has transferred from jail to Israeli hospitals. Karaka is demanding an international investigation of Israel over torture, medical neglect and war crimes.
Attempts to use the Jaradat incident to spark an intifada are ridiculous. Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails receive treatment that is unprecedented compared to prisons anywhere else. Israeli interrogators fall under strict scrutiny. Terrorists receive medical rehabilitation, dental care, and access to an education system that allows them to complete their studies.
Those with experience in “intifada” have indicated that the activists behind the current crisis are concocting a promo — a “test model” of sorts — in preparation for the next intifada because the Palestinian Authority has been marginalized following the Arab Spring and in light of the ongoing Syrian slaughter. PA activists are seeking to “upgrade” their “revolutionary” status ahead of the complete reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, possible Palestinian elections, and to squeeze something out of U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit.
In this scenario, the Palestinian Authority enjoys few achievements and walks away with an empty cash box and a “cold economic shoulder” from Israel and Arab nations. On the other hand, Hamas, “the apparently pure warrior” that successfully freed over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in a deal with Israel, enjoys popular support in the West Bank and economic backing from Qatar.
Under these circumstances, the situation that Fatah activists are developing in the Palestinian territories appears foolish and grotesque. The timing chosen by the Palestinians, just a few of weeks before Obama’s visit, is rather unfortunate. The objective of the U.S. president’s trip to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan is to assemble a regional front against Iran. The Palestinian activity thus comes off as destructive and an opportunistic effort to overshadow American efforts. The crisis serves the opponents of peace with Israel and sets the stage for the irreversible infusion of Hamas into the West Bank, which will derail any future political process. The Israelis will hit back hard, as usual, if a third intifada does break out, and worldwide, no one will pay any attention. Even in the eyes of the Palestinians, the escalation of violence will not lead the Palestinians anywhere.