Israeli defense minister gloats over world silence at Palestinian deaths
JERUSALEM, Sept 14 (AFP) - Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer, gloated Friday over the fact that the international community has been silent about the recent Israeli killing of Palestinians in the West Bank.
The hard-line minister, in an interview published in the Yediot Aharonot
daily, said this is a "disaster" for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
"It is a fact that we have killed 14 Palestinians in Jenin, Kabatyeh and
Tammun, with the world remaining absolutely silent. It's a disaster for
Arafat," Ben Eliezer told the Yediot.
The ministry of defence did not deny Ben Eliezer's comments, but said they could not be considered as an official declaration.
The Palestinian leadership Friday repeated charges that Israel was using the tragedy in the United States to step up what Arafat aide Nabil Abu Rudeina said a day earlier was its "war of attrition" against the Palestinians.
"While the world is preoccupied with the terrorist acts that targeted New
York and Washington, the Israeli government is trying to profit from these events by accelerating its escalation," said a statement from the Palestinian leadership.
"The forces of occupation have stiffened their attacks against Palestinian cities, destroying numerous buildings, while several martyrs have fallen," the statement added.
On Thursday, Abu Rudeina had said "Israel is exploiting the tragic
circumstances in the United States to continue its escalation, which is
leading the region ever deeper into violence and tensions.
"The Israeli government persists in its policy of aggression ... This is
a war of attrition against the Palestinian people and their leaders," he
His words were echoed by Palestinian information minister Yasser
Abed Rabbo, who charged Israel with "exploiting the present situation,
during which the world is preoccupied with the terrorist attack in the
United States, in order to launch terror attacks against the Palestinian
"Under the cover of night, Israeli forces reinvaded the cities of Jenin,
Jericho and Qalqilya," he said in a statement.
In another report Friday Yediot reported that Israel forced the postponement of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's landmark visit to Syria this week by banning his helicopter from taking off.
The Israeli leaders believed that taken in the context of the terrorist
attacks in the United States, the unprecedented ban would not provoke a backlash, Yediot said.
The reports were not denied by the defense ministry which refused official comment, it said.