Cold-blooded murder or a war on terror?
By Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi
Saeb Erekat, a member of the PLO's Executive Committee, has blamed Israel for the failure of the diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, and among the reasons he gives are the "killings." Erekat alleged that Israel had "killed 66 Palestinians in cold blood," implying that this had occurred throughout the period of the negotiations up to the day he made his statement.
B'Tselem's website names 43 Palestinians who were killed by IDF forces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from August 2013 to the end of March 2014. According to a check of Palestinian sources by this author, the casualty list includes:
As for the nine who did not belong to an organization, three were killed as they approached an IDF outpost at the Gaza border fence, three were shot while taking part in violent disorders, one was killed after firing a pistol at an IDF force, and one, a woman, was killed by return fire from the IDF at a source of fire in Gaza.
Erekat's rewriting of history, ignoring of Palestinian terror, and presentation of all the Palestinian casualties as innocent victims are of the same fabric as his description of Hamas as a legitimate political organization and his assertion that it has never engaged, nor engages today, in terrorist activity against Israel.
At an April 2014 conference in Ramallah on the "resistance strategy," Erekat said: "I declare before everyone, and this in the name of President Abu Mazen and of the Executive Committee [of the PLO], that Hamas is a Palestinian movement, and that it has not been and will not be a terrorist organization."
Erekat reiterated the same message in an April 27 interview to the Israeli news site Ynet, in which he said that "we [the Palestinian Authority] do not regard Hamas as a terrorist organization," and that in the Palestinian Authority's view "Hamas is a political organization."
In another interview to the Al-Shams radio station on May 8, Erekat said that "Hamas is a political, not a terrorist movement."
Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi is a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is a co-founder of the Orient Research Group Ltd.