Radical Palestinian Calls Sharon Illness 'God's Gift'
Pan-Arab satellite television broadcasters beamed out largely straightforward, nonstop live coverage from outside the hospital where Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon -- a particularly despised figure among Arabs -- struggled for his life.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel SharonBut a radical Palestinian leader in Damascus, the Syrian capital, called Sharon's health crisis a gift from God. "We say it frankly that God is great and is able to exact revenge on this butcher. ... We thank God for this gift he presented to us on this new year," Ahmed Jibril, leader of the Syrian-backed faction Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, a small radical group, told the Associated Press. Ahmed JibrilHe said Sharon's legacy would be one of huge damage inflicted on the Palestinian people. A Palestinian commentator on the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya network offered Sharon unexpected praise as "the first Israeli leader who stopped claiming Israel had a right to all of the Palestinian's land," a reference to Israel's recent withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. "A live Sharon is better for the Palestinians now, despite all the crimes he has committed against us," said Ghazi al-Saadi. Ali Badwan, a Palestinian living in Damascus, said Sharon was "the dinosaur of the Israeli political right and his legacy was the bloodiest of any Israeli against the Palestinian people. ... The Palestinian people would not mourn his passing from the political scene." Palestinian refugee camps were quiet in Syria and Lebanon, with many residents engrossed in television coverage of Sharon's illness. The ailing Israeli leader is particularly hated by Palestinians in Lebanon, where Sharon was found responsible for a massacre in two refugee camps by Christian Phalangist soldiers. He was defense minister at the time of the ill-fated invasion.