Resistance and Efforts for Peace
60 Palestinian intellectuals,
Fatah officials call for calm
Sixty prominent Palestinian officials and intellectuals have urged the public to refrain from retaliation for Israel’s assassination of Hamas’s spiritual leader, saying it would ignite a new round of bloodshed that would only hurt Palestinian aspirations for independence.
A half-page advertisement in the PLO’s Al-Ayyam newspaper called on Palestinians to lay down their arms and turn to peaceful means of protest to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The ad reflected growing sentiment among many Palestinian leaders and intellectuals that military struggle is not helping the Palestinian cause. Thousands of Palestinians have died during three and a half years of fighting with Israel.
Hamas’s founder, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, was killed in an Israeli air strike on Monday, prompting an outpouring of outrage on Palestinian streets. Hamas has promised to strike back, saying even Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is a target.
The intellectuals who signed yesterday’s ad—including legislator Hanan Ashrawi and Abbas Zaki, a leading member of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement—said such revenge attacks would lead to a strong Israeli retaliation and further hurt the Palestinian cause.
The group called on the public to “rise again in a peaceful, wise Intefadeh”. While saying the 37-year occupation must be brought down, they asked the public to reconsider the benefits of a violent struggle.
Yassin’s assassination has led to a heightened security alert throughout Israel, with police, border patrol and troops roaming city streets and setting up impromptu roadblocks in sensitive areas. The Foreign Ministry has increased security at its embassies, consulates and missions abroad, while Israelis have largely stayed away from public areas and buses, fearing a Hamas retaliatory attack at any time.
Hamas has carried out dozens of suicide bombings over the past three and a half years, killing more than 300 Israelis, according to Israeli officials. [Nearly 3000 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis during the same time period.]