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Palestinian Authority ends ban on pro-Iraq rallies

Special to World Tribune.com
MIDDLE EAST NEWSLINE
Monday, January 13, 2003

RAMALLAH After a ban that lasted nearly a year, the Palestinian Authority has approved rallies in support of Iraq and against the United States.

The rallies include the burning of the U.S. flag and calls for Palestinians to join Iraq in any war with the United States. The rallies have been addressed by members of the ruling Fatah movement as well as those from the Islamic opposition.

On Friday, a Hamas leader urged thousands of supporters to join Iraq in confronting the United States. Hamas leader Abdul Aziz Rentisi told a pro-Iraqi rally in the Jabalya refugee camp north of Gaza City that they should be prepared to serve as suicide attackers against the U.S. military.

"I call on Iraq to prepare an army of would-be martyrs and prepare tens of thousands of explosive belts," Rentisi said. "Blow yourselves up against the American army. Bomb them in Baghdad. I call on all Arab nations to burn the ground underneath the feet of the Americans in all capitals."

Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin also expressed Palestinian support for Iraq. In a message on Hamas's website, Yassin called on Palestinians to help Baghdad kill U.S. soldiers who invade Iraq.

PA Chairman Yasser Arafat is regarded as an ally of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Saddam has sent about $20 million to Palestinian insurgents over the last year. Much of the money goes to the families of suicide bombers.

At the rally on Friday, regarded as the biggest pro-Iraqi demonstration yet, Palestinians chanted "Death to America" and "Victory from Jerusalem to Baghdad." They torched British, Israeli and U.S. flags.

Palestinian attacks continued throughout Sunday evening. A Palestinian insurgency squad infiltrated from the Egyptian border and was killed as it headed toward an Israeli community in the Negev desert. In northern Israel, two Palestinian insurgents were killed in an infiltration attempt of a community near the city of Afula. An Israel was killed and five border police officers were injured in the clash in Moshav Gadish. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

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