Printer Friendly

Palestinians cheer death of a bitter enemy.

Byline: Mohammed Daraghmeh and Diaa Hadid

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Ariel Sharon's death Saturday elicited a wide range of responses from Palestinians, but sadness wasn't one: Some cheered and distributed sweets while others prayed for divine punishment for the former Israeli leader or recalled his central role in some of the bloodiest episodes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinians widely loathed Sharon as the mastermind of crushing military offensives against them in Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza and as the architect of Israel's biggest settlement campaign on lands they want for a state.

The intensity of those feelings appears to have faded a bit because Sharon left the public stage eight years ago, when he suffered a debilitating stroke and slipped into a coma. Sharon died Saturday afternoon at a Tel Aviv hospital.

The news traveled quickly in the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps in Lebanon's capital of Beirut, where Israeli-allied forces systematically slaughtered hundreds of Palestinians in September 1982, three months after Sharon engineered the invasion of Israel's northern neighbor.

Sharon was later fired as defense minister over the massacre, with Israeli investigators rejecting his contention at the time that he didn't know the attack was coming.

"Sharon is dead!'' a 63-year-old Palestinian woman in Sabra said, pointing to a text message from her daughter. "May God torture him,'' said the woman who only gave her first name, Samia. "We should celebrate. We should be firing in the air.''

In the Gaza refugee camp of Khan Younis, a few dozen supporters of two militant groups, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, gathered in the main street, chanting: "Sharon, go to hell.'' Some burned Sharon pictures or stepped on them, while others distributed sweets to motorists and passers-by.

Throughout his life, Sharon was at the center of the most contentious episodes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, starting as a young soldier fighting in the 1948 war over Israel's creation.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refrained from commenting on the death of Sharon, whose decision in 2005 to withdraw from Gaza helped bring the Islamic militant group Hamas to power two years later.

Some Palestinians expressed disappointment that Sharon hadn't been put on trial or had suffered a violent death.

"I always wished he would be killed by a Palestinian child or a woman, like he killed children and women,'' said Mohammed el-Srour, a Sabra resident who lost his father and five siblings in the massacre.

In Qibya, the village Sharon's forces raided in 1953, residents stage a memorial march each year.

Village resident Hamed Ghethan, 65, said earlier this week that he was sorry to see Sharon and the others involved in the attack escape punishment. "We were hoping the world would hear our voice and try them,'' he said.

The international group Human Rights Watch expressed a similar sentiment, saying in a statement: "It's a shame that Sharon has gone to his grave without facing justice for his role in Sabra and Chatilla and other abuses.''
COPYRIGHT 2014 Worcester Telegram & Gazette
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2014 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Daraghmeh, Mohammed; Hadid, Diaa
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:Jan 12, 2014
Words:495
Previous Article:Search team enlisted to find Jeremiah, 5; Team from Conn. comes to assist.
Next Article:Sharon, Israel's bulldozer in politics, dies at 85.
Topics:

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters