MEMRI: Arab Television Channels Interview Arafat
[IMRA: The Sharon Cabinet decided to "isolate" Arafat. It is not clear
what this term means judging by all the activity.]
Special Dispatch - Palestinian Authority, 3/31/02 , No. 361
Arab Television Channels Interview Arafat
Following the Palestinian terrorist attacks during the Jewish holiday of
Passover, on March 29, 2002, Israel launched a military operation against
the Palestinian Authority. As the Israeli army entered Arafat's
headquarters in Ramallah, Arafat granted interviews to leading Arab
television channels. Following are excerpts from these interviews:
Interview With Al-Jazeera
Arafat: "They decided to take me as a prisoner, a deportee, or to kill me.
No. I say to them [that I will be] a martyr, a martyr, a martyr, and a
martyr. .'And they will be in the front line until Judgment Day'. and 'one
of their martyrs [who falls in the battle for Jerusalem] is worth 40
martyrs'... Allah, give me martyrdom in. [Jerusalem], the place from
which the Prophet Muhammad ascended to the heavens, and the place our lord
Jesus was born. I may be martyred, but certainly one of our boys or one of
our girls will wave the flag of Palestine over the walls of Jerusalem, over
the minarets of Jerusalem, and over the churches of Jerusalem. 'They think
it is distant, but we know it is imminent, and we are right'. 'They will
enter the mosque as they entered it for the first time'... This is the
path I have chosen. Allah, give me martyrdom..."
"We defend not only Palestine, the Arab nation, and not only the holy
Islamic and Christian places - but also all men of freedom and honor in the
world. This is our destiny. This is a divine decree..."
"Let those far and near understand: None, among the Palestinian people or
the Arab nation, will be willing to bow and surrender. But we ask Allah to
grant us martyrdom, to grant us martyrdom. To Jerusalem we march - martyrs
by the millions. To Jerusalem we march - martyrs by the millions. To
Jerusalem we march - martyrs by the millions. To Jerusalem we march -
martyrs by the millions."
"This is a call to the Arab and Islamic nations and to all the Christians in
the world. This is the sacred land called in the West 'Terra Sancta,' Holy
Land. We defend these holy places..."
"We said to the Americans: You must act. Where are you going? Don't you know
this will shake the Middle East? I say to our Palestinian people: 'Oh
mountain, the wind will not shake you.' I say to our Arab nation: 'To
Jerusalem we march - martyrs by the millions.'"
Question: "Mr. President, Sharon said in his press conference that you have
become an enemy, that you are not a partner for peace, and that Ramallah has
become a den of terrorism. How do you respond to that?"
Arafat: "Isn't he [Sharon] a den of terrorism? The occupation is not a den
of terrorism? The F-15 and F-16 warplanes are not a den of terrorism? The
tanks that place me under siege are not a den of terrorism? Bombing
civilians is not a den of terrorism? Forty-seven thousand Palestinian
martyrs and wounded in this Intifada are not a den of terrorism? Destroying
the institutions of the Palestinian people is not a den of terrorism?
Destroying all the farms of the Palestinian people is not a den of
Question: "Is it possible that the Israeli forces will try to assassinate
Arafat: "They are more than welcome. I seek martyrdom. Allah, grant it to
me. Am I better than that heroic youth Fares Odeh? We are seekers of
martyrdom. We are all seekers of martyrdom. The entire Palestinian people is
a seeker of martyrdom..."
Question: "Mr. President, do you think that this extensive invasion by the
occupation forces is in response to the Netanya operation, or a response
to the Arab initiative at the Arab summit?"
Arafat: "No. It is a response to the Arab summit in Beirut.to Crown Prince
Abdullah's initiative... This is an Israeli response to all the peace
attempts because they do not want peace. They do not want peace!!! (sic) We
must remember these things. These extremist elements murdered my partner
Yitzhak Rabin. Why did they murder him? Because they do not want peace."
"Why do they distort Camp David? They ask why we did not accept Camp David.
Should I surrender Jerusalem to them? Who can accept such a thing? Tell me,
who can accept such a thing?... They are the plunderers, the murderers, the
real terrorists in the entire world, in the entire world. We are the only
people in the world under occupation. We put our hand in your [the
Israelis'] hand... If this is the response to the Arab initiative, what does
it mean? Who are the terrorists? The Palestinians? The Arabs? The Muslims?
The Christians? Did we bomb the statue of the Virgin Mary [in Bethlehem]?
The entire world turned upside-down because of the Taliban's attempt to
destroy the statue of Buddha - is the statue of Mary not sacred? Is she not
the only woman mentioned in the Koran? Is there not a Koranic chapter
bearing her name?"
Question: "Sharon says that now there is a war without geographical borders.
How do you assess the situation?"
Arafat: "By Allah, we consider all possibilities. Nobody is shaken, nobody
is scared, nobody is retreating. To Jerusalem we march - martyrs by the
Interview With Egyptian TV 
Arafat: "I want to tell you something: The world went wild because of what
the Taliban did to the statue of Buddha. But when they destroyed the statue
of the Virgin Mary, who is the only woman mentioned in the Koran, no one in
the world says a word... We defend these holy places: To Jerusalem we
march - martyrs by the millions."
Question: "...What do you plan to do while the tanks are two meters away..."
Arafat: "What two meters?!! They are bombing me. Can't you hear the
Question: "...Actually, we hear it from a distance..."
Arafat: "They attacked positions within the leadership compound."
Question: "...The question was, what will you do in this situation? How can
the Palestinian leadership calm the situation?"
Arafat: "We are all seekers of martyrdom. We will not hesitate and will not
retreat... As I told you: To Jerusalem we march - martyrs by the millions."
Question: "Is this a specific response to the Netanya operation?"
Arafat: "Great! All this in response to the Netanya operation?."
Question: "It is obvious that the sympathy and enthusiasm of the Arab
street is not enough. What do you demand now from the Arab leaders?"
Arafat: "To act in the international and global sphere with all the leaders
in the world, in order to stop this international and global terrorism led
by Sharon. Don't talk to me about terrorism in Kandahar, don't talk to me
about Taliban terrorism, and don't talk to me about terrorism anywhere. The
most important and most dangerous terrorism is the terrorism going on in the
Question: "Mr. President, we are following [events] with you and we see the
Israeli tanks approaching... We are with you in our hearts and souls and we
pray for your safety and the safety of the Palestinian people."
Arafat: "Man, don't wish me safety! Pray for me to attain martyrdom! Is
there anything better than being martyred on this holy land? We are all
seekers of martyrdom..."
Interview With Abu Dhabi TV
Arafat: "Allah, grant us martyrdom in defense of the Christian and Muslim
places holy to you... We are in the front line, and this people is defending
these holy places."
"True, he [Sharon] besieges us.True, he uses all the weapons prohibited by
international law. True he uses depleted uranium, true he uses toxic
gases.but we are steadfast. 'And they will be in the frontline until
 Al-Jazeera TV/Palestinian Authority TV, March 29, 2002.
 This is a reference to a Koranic verse.
 This is a reference to a Koranic verse.
 The March 27, 2002 bombing of a Passover Seder held at a Netanya hotel.
 Egyptian TV/Palestinian Authority TV, March 29, 2002.
 Abu Dhabi TV/Palestinian Authority TV, March 29, 2002.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent,
non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle
East. Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background
information, are available on request.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
P.O. Box 27837, Washington, DC 20038-7837
Phone: (202) 955-9070
Fax: (202) 955-9077