Palestinians on Saddam: We lost a leader - Israel News, Ynetnews

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Saddam on the gallows Photo: Reuters
Saddam on the gallows Photo: Reuters
Saddam with Arafat in 1988 Photo: Reuters
Saddam with Arafat in 1988 Photo: Reuters

Palestinians on Saddam: We lost a leader

(VIDEO) Iraqi tyrant's last words, 'Palestine is Arab,' touch hearts of many Palestinians. 'I cried when I heard the news,' says Jenin resident. Bethlehem residents mourn Saddam, drinking coffee and reminiscing over Gulf War

Ali Waked and AP
Published: 12.30.06, 19:57 / Israel News

VIDEO - Many in the Palestinian Authority on Saturday lamented the execution of Saddam Hussein, who received a special status among the Palestinians.


"Saddam was known for his ability to stick to his opinion and say 'no' to a world power," said Husni al-Ajal, 46, from a refugee camp near Ramallah.


The pictures of the "butcher from Baghdad" were hung in many places in the West Bank and Gaza. Some of the pictures featured both Saddam Hussein and former PA Chairman Yasser Arafat.


The end of a tyrant:


On Saturday morning, the citizens of Iraq and the entire world were notified that "the criminal Saddam was hanged to death." The Iraqi tyrant, who ruled Iraq between 1979 and 2003, died at around 5 a.m., at the presence of several witnesses from the Iraqi government and a Muslim cleric.


Saddam's last moments (Video: Reuters)

Saddam, on his part, did not forget the Palestinians also during his last moments. Just before the rope was wrapped around his neck, he shouted, "Allah is great. Long live the Iraqi nation. Palestine is Arab."


Iraqi sources who were present at the execution said that the prime minister's office employees began rejoicing and dancing around the body.


For fear of riots, a four-day curfew was imposed on Saddam’s place of birth, the town of Tikrit. The American military said it was prepared for any escalation of violence that would occur as a result of the Iraqi dictator’s death.

Signs in Gaza (Photo: AP)


A Hamas spokesman Fauzi Barhoum, condemned the execution, which he referred to as "a political assassination.


Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas lawmaker, added that "this is proof of the United States' criminal and terrorist policy in its war against the forces of resistance in the world."


PA residents reminisced over the Gulf War, when dozens of Scud missiles were launched at Israel. The missiles, which landed in the center of the country in 1991, were accompanied by celebrations and chants: "Saddam, strike Tel Aviv."


The Iraqi president remained popular among the Palestinians also during the recent intifada, when he promised to transfer USD 25,000 to families of Palestinians killed in terror attacks and clashes with Israel.


Sabha Muhammad, 57, of Jenin, received USD 25,000 from Saddam to rebuild her house, which was destroyed during Operation Defense Shield.


"I cried when I heard the news. I felt that we, as Arabs and Muslims, lost a strong leader today. I wish all Arab and Muslim leaders a similar fate, as they did not stand by Saddam – starting from the American occupation, through the president's seizure, to his killing."


Drinking coffee and reminiscing

Saddam's final words about Palestine touched the hearts of many Palestinians.


"He wanted the Palestinian people to get a state and a government and to be united," said Ranem Mazel, 72, of the West Bank.


The popular Palestinian committee for refugee affairs began mourning in the al-Azeh refugee camp near Bethlehem. Dozens of residents arrived, drank black coffee and reminisced over the popular leader during the Gulf War and the intifada.


The organizers hung Iraqi flags and pictures of Saddam in better days, and even put on Iraqi songs.

In Khan Younis, 25 youngsters took to the streets and began marching in honor of Saddam. The marchers held many pictures of Hussein alongside former PA Chairman Yasser Arafat.


"We heard that he became a 'shahid' (martyr) and were deeply shocked. There was not one leader who supported the Palestinian people and stood by us like Saddam did," said Khaj Ahmed, a resident of a West Bank refugee camp.


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