Palestinians are charging that Jersualem authorities are unleashing rats in massive numbers in their settlements in order to drive them out.
"Rats have become an Israeli weapon to displace and expel Arab residents of the occupied Old City of Jerusalem," Wafa reported under the title, "Settlers flood the Old City of Jerusalem with rats." The report continued: "Over the past two months, dozens of settlers come to the alleyways and streets of the Old City carrying iron cages full of rats. They release the rats, which find shelter in open sewage systems."
Wafa quoted unnamed Arab residents as saying that they had tried to eliminate the rats with various poisons, but to no avail.
Israel's goal was to "increase the suffering of the [Arabs] in Jerusalem by turning their lives into a real tragedy and forcing them to evict their homes and leave the city," Hasan Khater, secretary-general of the Islamic-Christian Front in Jerusalem, was quoted as saying.
Jerusalem Municipality spokesman Gidi Schmerling said that the report was "pure fiction," and had no connection to reality.
In the past the news agency, which is controlled and funded by PA President Mahmoud Abbas's office, has accused Israel of using wild pigs to drive Palestinians out of their homes and fields in the West Bank. In the reports, Palestinians were quoted by the agency as saying that they had seen Israelis release herds of wild pigs, which later attacked them.
But this is the first time that Palestinians have spoken of rats being used against them.
Ironically a few years ago the US media had reported that Palestinian suicide bombers were using rat poison to enhance the impact of their bombs.
Quoting Avraham I. Rivkind, an Israeli trauma surgeon, New York Times reporter Ian Fisher wrote, "Some suicide bombs, [Rivkind] added, are laced with rat poison, an anticoagulant, which causes victims to bleed more."
But Israel's Health Ministry told the wire service that no bomb victim had been hurt by the chemicals—the poisons simply burned up in the blast. "It's the bombs that do the damage, not any poisons that may be in them," police spokesperson Gil Kleiman said. Maintaining rat-poison-lacing would not exactly add to the power of the Palestinian bombs, Jack Shafer, a US columnist said then:
...the battle-hardened Israelis and Palestinians have been at it so long that they've normalized the real horrors of war and need to imagine something even more ghastly to keep them going.... In feature story by veteran Washington Post correspondent Glenn Frankel eight years ago ("Divided They Stand," Oct. 30, 1994), we learn of Israeli worries—"some true, some fear-inspired fantasy." Frankel writes "of Arab employees in food processing plants urinating in vats of Israeli food staples such as hummus and tahini or slipping rat poison into coffee tins."
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