1. Palestinians condemn London attacks

    Khaled Abu Toameh, THE JERUSALEM POST
    Jul. 9, 2005

    After 9/11, many Palestinians did not hesitate to rejoice in public over the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, saying the US deserved to be targeted for its bias towards Israel and hostility towards the Arabs and Muslims. But the reaction of the Palestinians to Thursday’s terrorist attacks in London has been completely different.

    Palestinians from all walks of life have strongly condemned the carnage in London, although most Palestinians are critical of Britain’s alliance with the US in the war in Iraq. On Thursday Palestinians did not take to the streets of Gaza City and Ramallah to celebrate the terrorist attacks in London, as they did after 9/11. Instead, most Palestinians were quick to denounce the attacks, calling for an end to terrorism.

    “We disagree with Britain on many issues, but we believe that the terrorist attacks in London were a big mistake,” said Ayman Asfour, 22, a university student from Nablus. “Such attacks cause a lot of damage to Arabs and Muslims.”

    Ahmed Abu Shusheh, 50, owner of a furniture shop in Ramallah, expressed fear that the London attacks would harm Palestinians. “I’m afraid that many people in Britain will now look at the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation as another form of terrorism,” he said. “I’m afraid that our enemies will now exploit these attacks to mobilize public opinion in Europe against the Palestinian struggle. This is also bad for Arabs and Muslims living in Europe.”

    Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his prime minister, Ahmed Qurei, were among the first Arab leaders to issue statements strongly condemning the attacks in London. In a letter to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Abbas expressed deep sympathy with the British people and condemned the “murderous and terrorist” attacks in London.

    Even Hamas, which was responsible for dozens of suicide bombings against Israeli civilians over the past four and a half years, issued a statement condemning the attacks in London. However, the Islamic movement stopped short of describing the attacks as an act of terrorism.

    “Hamas condemns the bombings that took place in London and that resulted in hundreds of innocent casualties,” said a statement issued by Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip. Like many Palestinians, Hamas blamed Israel’s practices in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan for the terrorist attacks against US and European countries.

    “We in Hamas call on the international community to stop all forms of occupation and aggression against the Arabs and Muslims, especially in Palestine, Iraq and Iraq,” said the statement. “The continuation of the occupation and aggression will lead to more tensions, hatred and bomb blasts.”

    Writing in the Ramallah-based Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda daily, Yussef Qazzaz, a senior official with the PA’s Voice of Palestine radio station, said the Palestinians, “who have fallen victim to terrorism, are opposed to all forms of terrorism.”

    “The victims are always innocent civilians,” he added, “whether they are in Madrid, New York or London. Targeting civilians won’t solve the problems of terrorists with the governments of Britain, the US and Spain. We reject terrorism and the killing of innocent civilians. We don’t know of any religion that allows the killing or execution of innocent people. Terrorism is the enemy of all the values of justice, freedom and humanity.”

    Qazzaz, too, believes there is a direct link between the terrorist offensive and the Arab-Israeli conflict and the situation in Iraq. “In order to eliminate terrorism, the world must end all forms of occupation,” he opined. “Occupation is one of the worst forms of terrorism.”

    Echoing Palestinians’ fear that the London attacks would have a negative impact on the Palestinian issue, prominent columnist Adli Sadek expressed fear that Muslims worldwide would also suffer as a result. “We in Palestine believe that this blind wave of violence will cause damage to our cause,” he said. “I’m afraid that we’re going to pay a heavy price.

    “The London blasts are a despicable act that plays only into the hands of the Zionists. These attacks targeted poor people who use public transportation. It’s possible that many of them had demonstrated in the past against Tony Blair and the occupation of Baghdad. Others may have demonstrated in support of the poor nations in the world. May God have mercy on us against this insanity.”