Thanks to Sol Salbe, intrepid Israel media hound, who discovered this damning story and video in Maariv (Hebrew only). Here is Sol’s description and synopsis of the article:
For those who peddle the view that the Hamas coup in Gaza was unprovoked this is embarrassing. As Ma’ariv explains “Abu Mazen instructed his general: ‘Slaughter them.’”
Amit Cohen reports: “The clip apparently shows a meeting in Abu-Mazen’s office in Gaza in which members of the preventive security force identified with Muhammad Dahlan participated. Upon meeting the older gentleman dressed in black uniform, Abu Mazen asks him : “Are you the head of the preventive security force?” When the answer is in the affirmative Abu-Mazen says one word: “Slaughter [them].”
Cohen does not have a problem in guessing who the target was-–Hamas.
Let’s give Maariv and Hamas the benefit of the doubt and accept the claim that this video (it’s really the audio that is at issue) is authentic. If so, we and the U.S. government should be re-examining into just what kind of Fatah basket we’ve thrown all our eggs. And we should also re-examine the almost universal condemnation sounded about Hamas’ takeover of Gaza. Hamas itself said that they were acting to pre-empt a Fatah coup. Whether or not that was justification after the fact, having this video not only makes Abbas out to be a bloodthirsty villain; it also makes him look even more ineffectual than he already does. He’s like the cinematic tinpot dictator reviewing all the troops before the climatic battle. In the next scene you see all of them fleeing for their lives, the words of the generalissimo long forgotten. That’s pretty much what happened to Dahlan’s hated troops during the fighting. They scattered like flies, hardly putting up a fight. Based on that performance I’m not optimistic that Fatah can do much better in the West Bank, where their strength supposedly lies.
And we should keep in mind that this is the same Abbas to whom Bush, the Europeans, and even the Israelis to the extent that they do trust him–have bound their fate. A man who is prepared to slaughter his supposed brothers. It does make you wonder.
Now a word about authenticity. It crossed my mind that altering the audio would be incredibly easy. I don’t know how authentic this item is. It’s certainly in Hamas’ interest to portray Fatah as bloodthirsty thugs. So for that reason alone, the video shouldn’t be accepted at face value until verified. But at least one Palestinian I know has authenticated that the voice is Abbas’.
UPDATE: I contacted Amit Cohen who reported this story and he graciously replied with the background information on the video which helps convince me it’s highly likely to be authentic:
The video was actually released by Hamas and was aired on their satellite TV in Gaza. I believe they confiscated it when they conquered Gaza 3 months ago.
I think the video is authentic. I spoke with source within the Fateh and they recognized the officers in the meeting:
1. The first guy, with the moustache, is an officer in the PSO (preventative security organization).
2. The older man, wearing a black uniform, was the head of the PSO “executive force”. He’s from Abu Zuaitar Family in Gaza. His alias is Sinbad.
It looks like the video was taking during a meeting between Abu Mazen and the PSO leadership in Gaza, before Hamas tookover.
When I got the video, I contacted Abu Mazen’s office for a response. I spoke with one of his assistants several times. I even sent him the video and made sure he got it. However, right after he got the movie, he screened my calls and didn’t get back to me…
If Abbas was given a chance to deny the authenticity of the video and chose not to–what does that tell you?