Aerial Assassinations Mastermind Is New Israeli Chief Of Staff

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The mastermind of Israel’s policy of aerial extra-judicial execution of Palestinian resistance fighters, Dan Halutz on Wednesday officially replaced Moshe Ya’alon as Chief of Staff of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), reported the Palestine Media Centre on Wednesday.

Halutz, 57, was promoted to lieutenant general at a gala ceremony in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office Wednesday morning, attended by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, ‘Defence’ Minister Shaul Mofaz, other ministers and senior army officers.

Halutz, who grew up in Moshav Hagur, entered the army in 1966 and did most of his service in the air force.

A commentary in the Israeli Ha’aretz on February 28 this year said: ‘The appointment of Major General Dan Halutz to chief of the General Staff is the appointment of the right man at the right time.

‘The Israel Defence Forces deserves a man lacking moral inhibitions, after three years’ service by a chief of staff whose actions were characterised by very few moral inhibitions.’

Halutz ordered the dropping of a one-ton bomb on an apartment in a residential building in Gaza on July 22, 2002 to extra-judicially kill Palestinian leading activist Salah Shehadeh, but killed also nine children among fifteen women and bystanders, after which he was quoted as saying, all he feels is ‘a slight tremor in the wing of the airplane.’

The commentary continued: ‘Halutz’s appointment will therefore help rip away the remnants of the mask of morality that the IDF wears.

‘When the man at the top of the pyramid is one who formulates his moral principles in such a callous and hard fashion, it will be very difficult for the IDF to continue holding seminars on human rights, human dignity and freedom and purity of arms, or to commission an ethical code from a philosopher,’

Halutz took up his post, two days after a failed Israeli aerial ‘targetted killing’ strike on a densely-populated area missed its ‘target’ and instead seriously wounded two women and a bystander.

Overnight Monday, Palestinian anti-occupation activist Khaled al-Ghandoor survived a failed Israeli extra-judicial execution when an Israeli helicopter fired three rockets at his home and seriously wounded two women, identified as Wafa and Ibtisam Ghandoor, and a civilian bystander in Jabaliya refugee camp to the north of the Gaza Strip.

The Jabaliya failed IOF aerial extra-judicial execution was the second violation in May of the Sharm el-Sheikh ‘understanding’ on February 8 between Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Palestinian factions warned in a statement Monday that the de-facto truce with the IOF was in jeopardy after Israel resumed its extra-judicial executions by aerial strikes.

Palestinian Interior Minister Nassr Yousef said in Gaza last Friday that anti-Israeli occupation ‘factions including Hamas have agreed to stop rocket attacks,’ provided the IOF stop their extra-judicial killings and hot pursuit of ‘wanted’ activists.

Meanwhile the IOF stormed into the West Bank town of Beitonya, west of Ramallah, overnight Wednesday and detained three ‘wanted’ Palestinian anti-occupation activists, another violation of Sharm el-Sheikh understandings.

On Tuesday IOF troops also detained two ‘wanted’ activists in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Abbas and Sharon agreed on February 8 to form a joint Palestinian-Israeli committee on ‘wanted’ anti-occupation activists.

In Gaza last Tuesday, Sami Abu-Zuhri, spokesman for the Hamas Movement in the Gaza Strip, affirmed that the resistance is the only language understood by the Israeli occupation.

‘I believe that our people’s past experience with the Israeli occupation affirms that resistance is the only language understood by the occupation,’ Abu-Zuhri said in a press statement to media.

Abu-Zuhri’s remarks came in response to Palestine National Authority (PNA) chief Mahmud Abbas’s utterances, carried by the American CNN TV network, in which he pledged to halt the Palestinian commando attacks on the Jewish state.

He pointed out that Abbas’s remark came at a time the Israeli authorities were still committing heinous crimes against the Palestinian people, and underlined that the Fatah Movement, Abbas’s party, was also committed to the resistance option.

For his part, Muhammad Ghazal, one of Hamas’ prominent leaders, affirmed that Abbas’s statements amounted to nothing more than a personal viewpoint.

‘The Palestinian people resorted to the martyrdom (human bombing) operations after political efforts ended up in vain,’ Ghazal underscored.

Meanwhile in occupied Jerusalem, Hamas angrily denounced the Israeli retraction of releasing two of its prominent political leaders in the West Bank and considered the step as proof of the Israeli cruel practices which uncovers the aggressive mentality of this arrogant Israeli government.

In a statement the movement said: ‘The Israeli step was an intelligence step aimed at breaking the morale of the two leaders, Jamal al-Tawil, Hamas political leader in the West Bank, and Wajih Qawwas, mayor-elect of Qalqilya, and the morale of their families.

‘The Israelis failed, several times, to transfer the two leaders from the Israeli Ofer prison to the Negev desert prison due to inmates’ protests.

‘However, this time the Israelis trapped them by telling them that their term is over and they are going to be transferred to the Negev prison to join the supposed-to-be released inmates there.’

The statement stressed: ‘Nevertheless, the Israeli occupation authorities proved anew their mischief and reneged on their promises and transferred the two leaders to administrative detention after the end of their imprisonment term in a blow to the simplest human rights of an inmate.

‘The Israeli action exhibits that Israeli disregard of the prisoners issue, which is the core issue in the calming down and without it there will be no calming down.

‘Thus we hold the Israeli occupation and the international community responsible if the present calming down crashed.’

Meanwhile, Saeb Erekat, director of the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department, has warned of the dangers inherent in the occupation’s Jerusalem municipality’s plan to demolish 88 houses in the town of Silwan.

During a meeting with Russian envoy Alexander Koligin, Erekat said that this demolition plan is the largest since 1967, and that it threatens all chances of reviving the peace process.

Erekat urged the international community to quickly intervene to stop this destructive plan from seeing the light of day.

The occupation’s Jerusalem Municipality had announced its desire to demolish these homes in order to build a park for settlers.