Shiekh Raed Salah: Gaza's residents sentenced to death
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Photo: Ronen Boidek
MK Tibi: Spare blood on both sides
Photo: Ronen Boidek

Salah: If we had an army, it would act

Leader of Islamic Movement's northern branch tells al-Jazeera network Israeli occupation would not have had courage to cause destruction without Arab and Islamic support, official silence. Meanwhile, Arab leadership in Jewish state launches global PR campaign to end Israeli offensive

If we had warplanes they would be used to maintain peace, Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement's northern branch said Tuesday in an interview to the al-Jazeera network following the IDF's Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.


"We are following what is taking place in Gaza with a lot of pain. It's clear to us that what is happening now is a war in every sense of the word, and is part of the wars of the past which have taken place in the region since 1948, through 1967 to 2006. This is the new war these days.


"It's clear to us that the savage Israeli occupation aspires through its war against our entire Palestinian people to bring down the elected Palestinian government led by Ismail Haniyeh, and it trying to foil the Palestinian resistance plan.


"I am convinced that the Israeli occupation will never agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state on the Palestinian land. Thus, the solution that have started talking about recently is what is called 'an alternative homeland' for the Palestinians in Jordan, and we will never agree to this," said Salah.


"The Israeli occupation wouldn’t have had the courage to cause this destruction without the Arab and Islamic support and official silence. I'm sad to say that the Israeli occupation is carrying out this terroristic destruction as if there weren't a billion and a half Muslims and Arabs and as if there weren't more than 50 Muslim and Arab states and there wasn't the Arab League.


"The official Arab and Islamic silence has sentenced Gaza and the million and a half residents besieged there to death," he added.


Asked what Israel's Arabs were doing about the situation, Salah replied, "We, the Palestinians in Palestine (Arabs in Israel), also suffer from the Israeli suppression and oppression. We are besieged because of the discrimination and religious Israeli persecution. This makes us suffer.


"Believe me, if we had an army, it wouldn't keep silent now. If we had warplanes, they would be used to maintain peace.


"We can declare a strike, and that's what we did. We can hold rallies and demonstrations in every village and city, and that's what we did. We can donate aid, medications, money and blood, and that's what we did.


"We continue thinking how we could help, perhaps by sending another ship from Cyprus or Istanbul to Gaza, as the one sent today. We are considering sending dozens of aid trucks. All this in the face of the Arab and Islamic silence," said Salah.


PR campaign worldwide

The Israeli leadership in Israel is launching a global PR campaign in order to bring the Israeli offensive in Gaza to an end, the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee decided Tuesday.


As part of the campaign, a letter blaming Israel be distributed worldwide, meetings will be held in embassies, and the leaders will giver interviews to every media outlet.


According to Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al), "The effort to end the war and spare blood on both sides is a supreme value."


Last Saturday, when the Gaza operation began, the Arab leadership held an emergency meeting and decided to hold protest processions in all Arab communities. Since then, two additional meetings have been held and decisions were made on a series of further protest moves, including an aggressive PR campaign, which they hope would lead to "the end of the Israeli massacre in Gaza".


"Anyone who can talk on the media and explain our objection to the war, and the stance of the Arab public in Israel in general, should do it today," said Tibi.


"In any case there will be an agreement in the end, so why shouldn't it be applied today? In order to express my stance I have already given interviews to eight different media outlets in Israel and the world today, and so have the other Knesset members," said Tibi.


'A planned massacre policy'

Alongside the media campaign, a letter in English will be distributed worldwide in protest of the Israeli activity and the Jewish state's "attempt to blame the victim".


"The world must understand that this is a planned massacre policy. We reject altogether the claim that the victim is responsible," said Amir Mahoul, chairman of Ittijah - The Union of Arab Community Based Associations.


"In addition," he said, "we plan to slam the world's silence in light of Israel's crimes, including the Arab regimes, and will call for an end to the offensive and for a removal of the blockade. We also plan to turn to the Egyptian and Jordanian governments and ask them to remove their ambassadors from Israel."


The Mossawa Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel has turned to the Israeli media, asking that the Arab voice be heard as well.


"The Arab voice must be heard even if it's different. The Arab public is part of the Palestinian people, and is also a citizen of the State. The public has the right to hear our stance.


"Racial incitement serves the political goal of extreme parties, which as using the upcoming elections to gain political power at the expense of feeding hatred," the center said in a statement.


Alongside the PR campaign, the Arab sector plans to hold a mass rally in the northern city of Sakhnin on Saturday and to raise donations for humanitarian aid to Gaza's residents.


While the police say 200 people have been arrested in riots and claim to be holding a dialogue with the Arab leadership, and Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen says he does not fear a repeat of the October 2000 events because "everyone has grown up", Arab leaders say no dialogue is taking place.


MK Abas Zkoor (United Arab List-Ta'al) sent a letter to Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, asking that the wave of arrests be halted.


Sharon Roffe-Ofir contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 12.30.08, 18:30
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