- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 18, 2002

For the state-controlled Arab media, it seems there's never a bad time for rehashing old anti-Semitic canards. The accusations, now being made by Yasser Arafat and his apologists, that Israel has committed Kosovo-style "massacres" in a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank town of Jenin are simply the latest version of centuries-old slander.

While there was indeed a ferocious military battle between the Israel Defense Forces and the Palestinian terrorists operating out of Jenin, there is no evidence whatsoever of a "massacre" committed by the Israelis. "Interviews with residents inside the camp and international aid workers who were allowed here for the first time [Monday] indicated that no evidence has surfaced to support allegations by Palestinian groups and aid organizations of large-scale massacres or executions by Israeli troops," Molly Moore of The Washington Post wrote on Tuesday.

The truth about Israel's military operation in Jenin is as follows: Much of the terrorist infrastructure responsible for 18 months' worth of bombings directed at Israel has operated out of that densely populated West Bank city, effectively using Palestinian civilians as human shields. At least 23 of the Palestinian suicide bombers who have targeted Israel during this period have come from the Jenin area; Jenin's epicenter of terror is a Palestinian refugee camp with a population of 13,000. Mr. Arafat who, under peace agreements signed with Israel, was supposed to prevent Palestinian terrorism has instead permitted terrorists affiliated with his own Fatah organization and groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad to set up shop inside this refugee camp, which is located just a few miles from the border between Israel and the northern West Bank. One of those arrested at the Jenin camp was Thabet Mardawi, a local leader of Islamic Jihad, which receives extensive support from Iran and Syria. The Israeli army believes Mr. Mardawi is responsible for dispatching nine suicide bombers to Israel and the murder of 20 Israeli citizens and the wounding of 150.

Israel sought to minimize civilian casualties in Jenin by launching a house-by-house search for terrorists. According to the foreign minister of Israel, Shimon Peres, many buildings in Jenin were destroyed because the terrorists, who were determined to fight to the death, had wired them with explosives. "There wasn't a house that wasn't booby-trapped," Mr. Peres said. "We also encountered booby-trapped men, Palestinians who raised their hands to surrender, while wearing explosive vests, in an attempt to detonate themselves among our soldiers." Israel lost 23 soldiers in the fight to root out terrorists from Jenin. Thirteen of these men died in a single ambush on April 9.

One man, Mr. Arafat, bears responsibility above all for the Israeli and Palestinian casualties in Jenin. Had he not decided to use Palestinians as cannon fodder for a barbaric war of terror against Israel, the tragedy there would never have occurred.

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