On Thursday, top Israeli military and intelligence chiefs met in Tel Aviv to discuss the "deterioration of the security situation in Iraq" and its possible ramifications on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

At the end of the meeting, Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said he was confident the "coalition forces will prevail over the terrorists."

Mofaz also reportedly conveyed his condolences to his American counterpart, Donald Rumsfeld, for the death of a few dozen American occupation troops in battle with Iraqi resistance fighters.

Likewise, the Israeli state-run radio began referring to slain American soldiers as "Challalim" or martyrs.

Same mentality

Some Israeli commentators have highlighted the "striking similarity" between what the Americans are doing in Falluja, Baquba, and Ramadi on the one hand and what the Israeli occupation army has been doing in Rafah, Khan Yunis and Jenin.

"When I turn to Aljazeera, I need a few minutes to realise that this is Iraq not Palestine," said Uri Avnery, a veteran Israeli journalist and commentator.

"For some mysterious and deep-rooted reasons, the Americans think like Israel. They have the same mentality and will be condemned to the same conclusion."

Uri Avnery, 
veteran Israeli journalist and commentator

In an interview with Aljazeera.net, Avnery pointed out Israel was anxious about the shifting sands in Iraq because it stood to lose if its ally and guardian lost in Iraq.

"Any success of the armed Iraqi resistance will have negative repercussions for the Israeli occupation of Palestine."

When asked if Israel's hopes for turning Iraq into a pacified and somewhat friendly country had been dashed in the light of recent developments, Avnery said: "I think so."

He pointed out that the American occupation forces were acting exactly like the Israeli occupation forces and that they were making the same mistakes and committing the same crimes.

"For some mysterious and deep-rooted reasons, the Americans think like Israel. They have the same mentality and will be condemned to the same conclusion."

'Ahmad Yasin’s regiments'

On Saturday, television screens around the world showed a number of Iraqi fighters holding several foreign hostages, including at least one American mercenary.

The armed men identified themselves as "the regiments of the Martyr Shaikh Ahmad Yasin", a reference to the founder and spiritual leader of Hamas who was assassinated by Israel on 22 March.

Some Iraqi resistance fighters
identify with Hamas

The symbolic identification with Hamas, some observers contend, underscores the "growing connection between what is happening in Palestine and what is happening in Iraq."

"The message is very significant. It shows that at least some resistance fighters in Iraq consider Israel and America as two sides of the same coin," said Ziyad abu Amr, a Palestinian lawmaker and professor of Political Science.

He told Aljazeera.net Israel hoped Iraq's gates would be wide-opened for Israeli companies, diplomats and even Mossad agents.

"Now, it seems, these hopes are evaporating and Iraqis, irrespective of their religious and political affiliation are burning the Israeli flags along with the American flags and identifying with Hamas and the Palestinian struggle."

'Iraqi Intifada'

Abu Amr called the Iraqi "Intifada" a "turnabout in the Iraq people’s collective consciousness."

"I am convinced that the Iraqi people will never be cordial toward those who slaughtered their children and women at Falluja, Ramadi and Baghdad. There is already a gulf of blood between the Americans and the Iraqi people"

Ziyad Abu Amr,
a Palestinian lawmaker and Professor of Political Science.

He said the Iraqi people would never allow an "American puppet Iraqi leader" to rule them after what has happened in Falluja and other Iraqi cities.

"I am convinced that the Iraqi people will never be cordial toward those who slaughtered their children and women at Falluja, Ramadi and Baghdad. There is already a gulf of blood between the Americans and the Iraqi people."

Asked to explain the dramatic escalation of the Iraq resistance during the past few weeks, abu Amr cited the "intrinsic contradiction between the occupier and the occupied".

"Of course there are some more direct reasons. However, the fundamental reason lies in the intrinsic contradiction between the occupied and the occupier, the rapist and the rape victim, the oppressor and the oppressed."

Amr, who had written extensively against the Oslo agreement between Israel and the PLO, predicted that the planned handover of authority to an Iraqi government by the end of June would not bring about any substantive change in the Iraqi scene.

"This is a big deception. What does it mean to hand over authority or sovereignty to a government or a governing council that is acting at the American occupier's disposal? It is a big joke."

Symmetry

US soldiers are acting like the
Israeli troops, say analysts

Most Palestinians are mindful of a "natural symmetry" between the Iraqi resistance to the Americans and the Palestinian resistance against Israel.

During the past few days, thousands of Palestinians marched through the streets of the West Bank and Gaza to underscore their solidarity and identification with the Iraqi resistance.

Awni al-Khatib, professor of Chemistry at Hebron University, believes the success and failures of the Iraqi resistance will have direct repercussions on the Palestinian situation.

"If they (Iraqi resistance) succeed, this would encourage and embolden us and boost our moral, and if they do not, God forbid, this will be bad news for us."

Al-Khatib said the adoption by the US occupation forces of the Israeli repressive tactics, such as killing civilians indiscriminately, was already backfiring.

"The Americans are already facing a painful boomerang effect of their stupid policy in Iraq. The almost blanket bombing of Falluja will only breed more hatred for America … not only in Iraq but throughout the world.

"Soon the level of hatred for America among the Iraqis will reach the same level of hatred for Israel among the Palestinians."