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Friday, April 09, 2004

Israel wishes US victory in Iraq,
Palestinians side with insurgents fellow Arab Islamist jihadis

AFP: JERUSALEM - Israel expressed its full support for embattled US troops in Iraq, saying it hoped they would crush "terrorism", as several thousand Palestinians marched in support of anti-coalition insurgents.

"We are crossing our fingers for the Americans in Iraq. Their success is vital for world peace," Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the mass circulation daily Yediot Aharonot. "If the Americans manage to control the situation in Iraq, which Israel is convinced they will, it will have a positive impact on the whole Middle East, (on) the oil market and the international community's authority."

But he warned that "if the Americans are forced to withdraw from Iraq as a result of terrorist pressures, a new and dangerous Arab regime will seize power. The axis of evil will lift its head again and threaten world peace."

By contrast, more than 2,000 Palestinians, including masked gunmen, participated in a rally in Gaza City against the US-led occupation, called by the radical Islamic Jihad.

Palestinian militants of the radical Islamic Jihad movement hold up
weapons and the Iraqi flag during a rally in Gaza City to protest the
latest violence in Iraq. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)

"Death to Israel, death to America," chanted the angry crowd.

They burned effigies of US President George W. Bush and of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

"We want to show the Iraqi people and the whole world today that we are fighting the same battle. Our people's throats are being cut by Sharon's knife and Iraqis are being slaughtered by Bush's knife," said one of the group's spokesmen, Mohammed al-Hindi.

Hamas chief Abdelaziz Rantissi had drawn a similar parallel Thursday.

In the northern West Bank city of Nablus, some 400 Palestinians commemorated the first anniversary of Baghdad's fall, waving banners reading: "Baghdad and Jerusalem -- resistance is the only alternative", and: "Bush and Sharon are the godfathers of terrorism."

The demonstrators, who marched after the main weekly Muslim prayers, set US and Israeli flags ablaze as a large Iraqi flag flew overhead.

Palestinian demonstrators burn the U.S. flag during a
pro-Iraqi protest against the U.S. led military campaign
in Iraq, in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, Friday,
April 9, 2004. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)

An armed offshoot of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's mainstream Fatah movement, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, condemned in a statement "the terrorist massacres" perpetrated by US-led forces.

Also in the Gaza Strip, hundreds of Palestinians answered a fundraising call by Hamas to support their anti-Israeli attacks, donating jewelry and cash. The Islamist group had invited contributions to "equip fighters going to martyrdom," a euphemism for suicide bombers headed for Israel.

The Palestinians really get what side they're on. I only wish more Americans had that kind of clarity.