Lebanon News

Ain al-Hilweh revels in attack on Israeli synagogue

A boy distributes sweets in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014, as Palestinians celebrate an attack on a synagogue in Occupied Jerusalem. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

SIDON, Lebanon: Palestinians in the refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh rejoiced Tuesday, celebrating a fatal attack conducted in Israel by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine with music, dancing and sweets.

Two armed Palestinians killed four people and wounded eight others in a Jerusalem synagogue earlier that day, after a month of unrest in the holy city.

Residents in the south Lebanon camp of Ain al-Hilweh – Lebanon’s largest refugee settlement – drove around in motorcycles carrying sound amplifiers, playing revolutionary songs out in the streets.

“As long as there is Israeli occupation, attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and killing of our people, it’s the right of this people, whose land is occupied, to defend it by all means,” PFLP leader in Sidon Abdallah al-Dannan told The Daily Star. It’s the Palestinians’ right to retaliate to the crimes of the Zionist enemy, such as abusing children and attacking the Al-Aqsa Mosque, he said.

Cheering refugees also raised photos of PFLP leader Ahmad Saadat, who has been detained by Israeli forces since 2008, when he was accused of several terrorist attacks, notably the assassination of a former Israeli tourism minister.

Members of the PFLP handed out candies to passers-by and danced dabke to the music with students and other camp residents.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for fueling the violent act, and promised to respond with a “heavy hand.” However, the attack, which came amid an escalating dispute over occupied Jerusalem’s holiest site, was condemned by Abbas.

Dannan confirmed that his organization was behind the attack. “We are known for fasting and celebrating with food after an important operation with good planning and good execution,” he said.

“We are the ones who killed Zionist Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi in Jerusalem in 2001,” he added.

Founded in 1967 by George Habash, the PFLP is a Palestinian revolutionary leftist organization and the second largest of the groups forming the Palestine Liberation Organization, Fatah being the largest. The PFLP has generally taken a hard line on Palestinian national issues, opposing the more moderate stance of Fatah.

Dannan said the PFLP wasn’t worried about a possible Israeli response to the attack. “We do not fear or give importance to any Zionist threats,” Dannan said, “We just think of how to defend our people.”

In the camp’s vegetable market, shoppers were listening carefully to the news of the attack. “May the hands that executed the killing be kissed,” said Nawal Ahmad, a woman in the market. “This is a normal response by our people who are resisting.”

Abed Maqdeh, the secretary-general of the Palestinian Coalition in Sidon, praised the PFLP attack in Jerusalem. “We won’t forget Palestine,” he said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 19, 2014, on page 3.

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