- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 23, 2001

RAMALLAH, West Bank Palestinian leaders say they are adopting new tactics to continue the 15-month Intifada, or uprising, against Israel but will avoid suicide bombings and direct attacks inside the Jewish state's pre-1967 borders.
Instead, they are returning to a lower-level Intifada against Israeli troops similar to the first stage late last year. The uprising then escalated into onslaughts against Israeli civilian targets inside Israel.
The new Intifada was evident immediately here since Friday, when flag-waving, stone-throwing Palestinians confronted Israeli troops at checkpoints with rocks and mass demonstrations and provoked an Israeli military response.
The trouble began in Ramallah's elegant central Jamal Abdel-Nasser Mosque after Friday prayers, when a huge throng spilling out into the streets had heard ringing denunciations of American infidels attacking Afghanistan and of Jews occupying holy Arab land, and a stirring call to pursue the jihad till victory.
The demonstrators walked chanting toward Israeli armored personnel carriers blocking a road not far from Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's headquarters. Other Israeli troops had moved out of some positions in a part of the city and its outskirts, after United Nations-mediated talks between high-ranking Israeli and Palestinian security officials.
In a unique public display of Palestinian unity, leaders from all factions, Islamic and secular, literally joined hands. The marchers chanted anti-Israel and anti-American slogans and held aloft the green, red and black flags of different Palestinian factions.
The demonstration turned violent after Palestinians hurled rocks and abuse at the Israelis. "With our spirit and our blood, we will liberate Palestine," they chorused repeatedly.
The confrontation occurred close to the now-flattened remains of a Palestinian radio station, destroyed by Israeli air power two weeks ago in response to the suicide bombings in Jerusalem and Haifa.
It now turns out that this radio station was not even used and was due for demolition, so that attack had more symbolic than to practical effect. "It saved us a bill of $30,000," a local pharmacist chuckled, pointing to the modern broadcasting station and transmitter towers higher up on a hill.
In an on-the-march interview with The Washington Times, Marwan Barghouthi, leader of the biggest Palestinian faction, Al-Fatah, maintained that the 15-month uprising had been successful in one of its key aims. It had publicized and dramatized the Palestinian problem, he said, and focused the world's attention on it.
"Until the intifada, people in the West thought the issue was solved, and we proved it is central to the whole Middle East," Mr. Barghouthi said.
Because he played a leading role in the intifada, he had been labeled a terrorist leader by Israel, which claims he masterminded several shootings. Mr. Barghouthi narrowly escaped an Israeli strike on a car two months ago, though Israel said its target was not the Fatah leader but rather a "terrorist" bomber.
One of Fatah's offshoots, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, recently has said openly its members joined forces with Hamas operatives in carefully planned bombings in Haifa and the bus attack near an Israeli West Bank settlement.
Mr. Barghouthi has had his previous run-ins with Mr. Arafat and represents the younger, more radical elements within the leadership cadres of the Palestinian movement. In previous interviews this year, he has strongly advocated continuing the all-out uprising against Israel and derided the idea of any pause or suspension.
Hamas's announcement that it was suspending its suicide attacks was guarded and apparently promised only a partial halt to terror attacks.

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