Field leaders of Arafat's Fatah declare popular war : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Field leaders of Arafat's Fatah declare popular war

Wafa Amr 10/08/00

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Field leaders of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction distributed leaflets on Sunday declaring a ``popular war'' and calling for an 11-day ``intifada'' against Israel to be stepped up.

Fatah officials said members of the mainstream political faction, acting on orders from local leaders and not Arafat, went from door to door delivering the leaflets and plastering them on shop and car windows in Palestinian-populated areas at night.

The distribution methods echoed those used by Palestinian factions during the seven-year intifada, or popular uprising, which started in 1987 against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Just like intifada leaflets, Fatah's document carried the title: ``Appeal number one, no voice rises over the voice of the intifada, over the voice of Jerusalem.''

``The intifada will escalate. This is the beginning of a new phase,'' said Marwan Barghouthi, a senior representative of the mainstream Fatah faction in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Arafat, the leader of Fatah, was not consulted when the field leadership decided to take the initiative to direct street protests now in their second week, Fatah officials said.

``We have differences with our political leadership over this, but we need to ensure the protests are steered in the right direction,'' said one senior Fatah official. Eleven days of Palestinian-Israeli clashes in the West Bank and Gaza have killed 83 people, mostly Palestinians. Fatah refers to the confrontations as the ``al-Quds intifada'' -- using the Arabic word for Jerusalem.

``I think the authors of the leaflet may be preparing people (for a lengthy period of clashes with the Israeli army),'' Faisal al-Husseini, the senior Fatah official in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, told Reuters.

Despite apparent popular readiness to continue the protests, another senior Fatah official said: ``Arafat and the political leadership don't have a political decision to continue escalation.''

``They have not burnt all their bridges as far as peace talks and reconciliation with Israel are concerned. They still hope peace efforts will succeed,'' said the official.


Fatah said in its leaflet that confrontation was the only option for Palestinians because Israel was neglecting their rights. It said the intifada would continue and would be a way of life for a long time.

It instructed people in Gaza and the West Bank, including Arab East Jerusalem, to carry on with their lives normally until 1 p.m. daily when a general strike would take effect.

Fatah called on the Palestinian Authority not to hold peace talks with Israel and to stop security coordination with Israeli security forces.

The leaflet angered some Fatah leaders who were kept in the dark.

One senior Fatah official, who is also a cabinet minister, said: ``Political decisions have to be made by the Palestinian Authority, and not by Fatah's field leadership.''

``It is not the intifada of 1987. We have a new situation now because the leadership is not in exile. It is here and controls the West Bank and Gaza,'' he told Reuters.


Unlike the old intifada days, both Israel and the Palestinians have developed fighting strategies.

Although Palestinian protesters are still using stones, Fatah members say they have opened fire at Israeli soldiers. Israel's army has used helicopter gunships, tanks, rockets and brought tanks to the edges of Palestinian cities and towns.

``For the first time ever, the Shabab (Fatah youth) have dared to use their M-16 (rifles) and Kalashnikovs against Israeli soldiers in response to the ongoing killings,'' one senior Fatah official.

``In this new intifada, Fatah youth will use their guns wisely, they will ration the use of bullets and will every night shoot at army camps and settlements. They will refrain from using arms during popular street demonstrations.''

-- Carl Jenkins (, October 08, 2000

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