Freelance investigative journalist Iggy Ostanin posted on Twitter Tuesday that British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn visited Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 2002, at a time that he authorized dozens of suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.
Corbyn said that meeting the Palestinian Liberation Organization leader was surreal and that Arafat was "focused and precise… giving a very strong message of defiance."
Describing Arafat's Ramallah compound, Corbyn said: "We entered the building down a corridor lined with sandbags, beyond which lay piles of broken and burnt vehicles as a result of Israeli bombardment and machine gun strafings which had damaged most of the surrounds."
In response to a series of deadly terror attacks, the IDF entered Palestinian cities, for the first time since the Oslo Accords, in order to root out terrorist infrastructure.
Prime minister at the time Ariel Sharon ordered the IDF to surround the offices of Arafat with Israeli armor in order to pressure him to end his support for suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks against Israelis.
"Arafat himself seemed focused and precise in what he had to say, giving a very strong message of defiance of the blockade, despite the arrival of an incoming message — whilst we were there — that Israeli tanks had reentered Ramallah and were one kilometer away from his office," Corbyn said.
Corbyn told Socialist Campaign Group News that he was in Palestine with a delegation that included two other parliamentarians and that they had visited east Jerusalem, Gaza and Nablus as part of "a campaign for peace."
Corbyn stayed at a church guest house in east Jerusalem from where the group would venture out daily to meet with various Palestinian groups and officials.
"As part of a busy schedule I also visited a Red Crescent hospital in Gaza city, a new health development and a water development funded by the British government," Corbyn continued. "The following day, I travelled to Ramallah to visit a number of places, including a Quaker school, and also met with the Union of Women’s organization. An office of a busy NGO, which had previously been trashed by the Israeli army was, most impressively, now up and running within just three weeks, such is the determination and zeal of the Palestinians under threat."
Corbyn described the damage to buildings in Jerusalem, Gaza and Ramallah, damaged by the IDF as "quite horrifying."
Corbyn described his visit to the Gaza Strip, several years before Hamas assumed control of the territory: "There was poverty and destruction throughout, and a complete ban on all travel to and from Palestine (West Bank). Foreigners are allowed to travel but spend a great deal of time queuing at checkpoints. The large security point between Gaza and the Israeli state is closed."