DEATH AND DARKNESS
ARAFAT'S LEGACY

THE PALESTINIAN ADDICTION TO BLOODSPORT

THE ISLAMIZATION of BETHLEHEM by ARAFAT FROM 1995-NOW
MOST COMPLETE AND MOST DEFILED, MANGER SQUARE

BETHLEHEM (March 17) - Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel have frequently been targeted by fellow Palestinians during nearly 18 months of bitter fighting with Israel, but in recent days, the pace of these vigilante-style killings has picked up sharply.

Seven suspected collaborators have been slain by Palestinian gunmen in the past week alone, compared to about two dozen until then.


One was strung up by his heels in the middle of a downtown traffic circle. The battered body of another was dragged through the streets before assailants tried to hang the corpse from a rooftop overlooking the traditional site of Jesus's birth.


Two more were snatched off a West Bank road, driven to a deserted slaughterhouse and riddled with bullets.


The killings echo a grim pattern established during the first Palestinian uprising against Israel, which lasted from 1987 to 1993. In those years, more than 800 suspected collaborators were slain by fellow Palestinians - about one-third of the total Palestinian deaths in that uprising.

The latest killings - many of them chillingly gruesome and highly public in nature - appear calculated to terrorize any Palestinian contemplating cooperation with the Israeli security services. Palestinian militiamen behind the slayings promise their anti-collaborator campaign will intensify.

Collaborators "are very dangerous - they're more dangerous than the Israelis," said Abu Mujahid, a spokesman for the Aksa Brigades, a Palestinian militia group linked to Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, which claimed responsibility for at least five of the recent killings. "They're the enemy you don't know - they're within, they're among us." Militiamen who profess loyalty to the Palestinian leader say their campaign against collaborators was prompted in part by Israeli attacks on Arafat's Palestinian Authority.

Masked Palestinians drag the body of alleged Israeli-collaborator Mahmoud Sabatin through the streets of Bethlehem


March 25 issue — The agents of vengeance moved swiftly. Minutes after Israeli tanks rolled into Bethlehem last Wednesday night, 50 Palestinian gunmen surrounded a house in another part of town where alleged collaborators Mohammed Deifallah, 29, and Mahmoud Sabatin, 32, were being held by local police. Accused of helping Israel assassinate two leaders of the militant Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the men had been moved secretly to the makeshift jail after Israeli F-16s demolished Bethlehem’s main prison last month. But word of their whereabouts had leaked out, and as Palestinian guards stood by, the militants stuffed the terrified prisoners into a pair of trucks and drove to a deserted road on the outskirts of the city. “They stood them against the wall and made them repeat, ‘There is no other God but God’,” says a witness who watched from her second-floor window. “Then they killed them with bursts of gunfire and hacked them with axes.” The bodies were left on the road overnight, then tied by the ankles to a truck and dragged to Manger Square, near the site where tradition says Jesus was born. Palestinians gathered to jeer and kick the men’s mutilated corpses. “This is the destiny that awaits all collaborators,” exulted a young fighter named Adil.

AND AT THE END OF THE DAY, THE CHILDREN PLAYED.

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