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5/23/03 - PALESTINIAN PROGRESS - 2003-05-23

On May 20th, Israeli troops departed the Palestinian town of Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip after five days of occupation and military actions. Shortly thereafter, hundreds of Beit Hanoun’s residents took to the streets, where they burned tires and blocked a main thoroughfare.

But the Palestinians were not protesting against the Israelis. According to the Associated Press news service, the protesters were displaying “a rare burst of anger at Islamic militants whom they blamed for prompting Israeli attacks by using their town to fire rockets into Israel.”

Mohammed Zaaneen took part in the demonstration. He told the A-P that the terrorists “claim they are heroes. They brought us only destruction and made us homeless,” said Mr. Zaaneen. “They used our farms, our houses, and our children to hide.”

The protest in Beit Hanoun is an example of some Palestinians acting decisively against those who use terror for political ends and deliberately seek to cause civilian casualties among Palestinians.

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that ending terrorism is a key element in the efforts to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians:

“We look to the new authorities on the Palestinian side to actually start taking the steps against violence that they themselves have promised, that they themselves have pledged, that they themselves have committed to for their own purposes, because they want to establish a single authority that is in the Palestinian areas.”

The residents of Beit Hanoun have made it clear who the Palestinians’ real enemy is in the search for peace. It is the terrorists and extremists who claim to act in the name of Palestine.