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Arab Violence And "Justice"

Inter-Arab violence and murder continued in Gaza this morning and this week. In addition, the U.S. and local Arabs are unhappy with the "trial" of four residents on charges of killing three American guards.
First Publish: 2/11/2004, 3:20 PM / Last Update: 2/11/2004, 4:16 PM

Inter-Arab violence and murder continues in Gaza and other PA-controlled areas. Rival Arab gangs exchanged gunfire in a Gaza neighborhood this morning, near the offices of the Palestinian Authority's Gaza chief Muhammad Dahlan, with no injuries reported.

On Monday, a 50-year-old Arab suspected of cooperating with the IDF was killed, execution style, by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist organization. A masked spokesman for the terrorist group told Reuters, "We shot him dead with four bullets to the head and chest in Ramallah because he was a collaborator who has helped Israel kill and detain many Palestinians." The execution comes only a few weeks after the victim's son was killed the same way.

The Israel Law Center "Shurat HaDin" strongly condemned the killing, as well as the failure of human rights organizations to properly address the issue of continued gangland-style killing of suspected "collaborators" in the Palestinian Authority. Shurat HaDin reports that since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, several hundred such murders have been perpetrated. To date, the PA police have never conducted any investigation into the killings, nor indicted a single suspect.

Other aspects of the PA's "justice system" have also come under attack. The PA began a speedy trial this week of four alleged suspects in the murder of three American guards during an attack on a US diplomatic convoy last October - but the U.S. is not satisfied.

The trial aroused suspicion from the outset, coming, as it did, only two days after the United States offered a reward of $5 million to anyone who would provide information leading to the capture of the murderers. It also followed, by less than two weeks, an American threat to freeze aid to the PA unless the matter is resolved. Until now, and ever since the attack, the PA has refused to cooperate with American law enforcement officials in attempting to find the guilty parties.

State Department officials informed the PA yesterday that the trial is unacceptable, and that they demand "justice." The four defendants - whom the Americans believe are not guilty - are being charged with planning an attack on Israeli tanks and hitting the Americans "by accident." The trial is being held behind closed doors. "We are very concerned, and demand a true investigation that will bring the guilty parties to justice," said the US statement.

It should also be noted that the Palestinian Journalists Union issued a protest against several PA newspapers that agreed to print the State Department's offer of prize money for information on the terrorists. "The [US] announcement is a strike against our national sovereignty," said the Union, "and aids the blackmail and the American's policy of pressure against the PA in this matter."

Arab media report that hundreds of Arabs, chanting, "Bowing to American demands is treason," protested yesterday against the trial, with PA official Imad al-Faluji saying that the trial of the four was "political" and an "injustice."