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Palestinian broadcasters began their news programs Wednesday with the demand that there be an investigation of the death Monday of Nouran Deeb, a ten-year-old Gaza school girl, and Palestinian officials have not tried to dispel the impression-that they themselves promoted-that Israeli forces deliberately murdered the girl.

The demand for an investigation came even though Israeli officials say the Palestinians have admitted privately that they know Israeli forces had no connection with the girl´s death and that she was accidentally shot by a Palestinian.

Israeli officials and reporters said the Palestinian Authority arrested and then released a Palestinian Muslim pilgrim returning from Mecca who fired celebratory shots in the air that apparently killed the ten- year-old girl.

"Former Interior Minister Muhammad Dahlan demanded a joint Palestinian-Israeli investigation of the killing of Nouran Deeb who was killed by Israeli occupiers as she stood in the courtyard of her school in Rafah," asserted Hayat al-Jadeeda in a front page story today.

Al Hayat al-Jadeeda is a daily newspaper closely identified and subsidized by the Fatah movement headed by Mahmoud Abbas, the chairman of the PLO and the newly elected president of the Palestinian Authority.

It was the second day in a row that the news of the girl´s death dominated the Palestinian media.

"The occupation burns up the calm by killing a girl in her school yard in Rafah," declared Al-Ayyam, another Fatah paper closely aligned to Abbas and the PLO leadership.

The headline Tuesday appeared under a top-of- the-front-page picture of the girl´s desk with a flower atop it and an empty school uniform on her chair. (The same picture appeared on page 3 of Tuesday´s Hebrew daily, Ha´aretz.)

Palestinian officials such as Prime Minister Ahmad Qreia and Negotiations Minister Saeb Arikat called the death an Israeli war crime..

"A child was martyred and another was wounded when they were both struck by bullets of the Israeli occupiers as the two of them stood in the courtyard of their school in Rafah in southern Gaza," declared the Jerusalem daily newspaper Al-Quds Tuesday in an account that paralleled the other Palestinian media outlets.

The demands for an investigation come at a time that the Palestinian Authority under new president Mahmoud Abbas has actually increased certain elements of incitement, regularly referring to attacks on Israelis as "resistance operations"-a term that was not widely used during the tenure of Yasser Arafat.

The demands for investigations of Israeli "cruelty" come amid daily inflammatory references to the Israeli government which is now regularly called "The Tel Aviv government," and to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as "the Tel Aviv prime minister."

The Palestinian state radio (Sawt Felasteen: Voice of Palestine) and Palestinian State Television and its satellite service (PBC- Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation) made no mention of new developments in case of Nouran Dheeb´s death, which has been promoted as another "atrocity" or "war crime" committed by Israel.

Israeli State Television and Radio reported Tuesday night and Wednesday morning that the Palestinian Authority had arrested a Gaza man who was part of a party of Muslim pilgrims who fired off the their weapons in celebration of their return from the "Haj" in Mecca, one of the five basic commandments of Islam.

Late Tuesday night, Palestinian Broadcasters continued accusing Israel of killing the school girl and wounding another, with tank fire, even though it was clear to them that there was no tank fire in the area at the time of the incident, and even though the nearest Israeli position was almost 1,000 yards away-making a fatal shot from an M-16 bullet a near impossibility.

"Israel continued its attacks against our people today that began with the killing of Noran Deeb yesterday," asserted senior Voice of Palestine anchorman Nizar al-Ghul during the daily evening news round-up (9PM Jerusalem, 2PM NY).

The Palestinian charges of Israeli murder of the young school girl have been repeated many times on the air by Palestinian officials and were seized upon by the HAMAS organization which has fired more than a dozen mortar and missile rounds at Israeli communities inside Gaza over the last few days.

The employment of charges of atrocities-especially the murder of children-has been a mainstay of the Palestinian Authority´s "information" specialists who built hours of inflammatory programs and songs around the death of Muhammad Doura, an eleven-year old killed in Gaza.

Doura, who was filmed apparently dying in his father´s arms, became a kind of poster boy for "Intifadat al-Aqsa"-the Al-Aqsa Intifada, the name Palestinians have given to the four-year-long war against Israel launched after Ariel Sharon was accused of defiling Islamic holy places in Jerusalem in September 2000.

Four years and several thousand deaths later, French camera crews (France-Deux) have now all but acknowledged that they manipulated films of Doura´s death, and it seems likely that the boy in Gaza then-like Noura Dheeb now-was killed by Palestinian bullets.

Dr. Michael Widlanski teaches political communication at the Rothberg School of the Hebrew University. (IMRA.ORG.IL 02/02/05)

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