Hamas slams Palestinian visit to "alleged" Holocaust site

GAZA Wed Aug 1, 2012 7:39pm EDT

A view of the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz Birkenau during the marking the 67th anniversary of the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust, in Auschwitz Birkenau January 27, 2012. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

A view of the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz Birkenau during the marking the 67th anniversary of the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust, in Auschwitz Birkenau January 27, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Kacper Pempel

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GAZA (Reuters) - The Hamas Islamist group in charge of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday denounced a Palestinian official's visit to the site of a Nazi death camp in Poland, and called the Holocaust in which 6 million European Jews perished an "alleged tragedy."

Ziad al-Bandak, an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who governs in the occupied West Bank, had made a rare visit by a Palestinian official to the site of the Auschwitz death camp late last month.

"It was an unjustified and unhelpful visit that served only the Zionist occupation," said Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas. Hamas rejects Israel's existence and interim peace accords reached by Abbas' more moderate Fatah group with Israel.

Barhoum further called Bandak's visit to Auschwitz, a camp where the Nazis killed 1.5 million people, most of them Jews but also other Polish citizens, during World War Two, as "a marketing of a false Zionist alleged tragedy."

He said he saw this as coming "at the expense of a real Palestinian tragedy," alluding to Israel's control over territory where Palestinians live and seek to establish a state.

Israel was founded as a Jewish state in 1948, several years after the wartime genocide occurred.

Islamist extremists have taken to denying the Holocaust happened as part of a narrative rejecting Israel's existence, often at the encouragement of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called the genocide "a myth."

Israel and Iran have been locked in a dispute over an Iranian nuclear program the West fears is intended to produce atomic weapons. The West has imposed sanctions on Tehran to try and force it to rein in the project. Iran insists its atomic work is intended solely for peaceful purposes.

Iran is an ally of Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in 2007 from Abbas' Fatah group. Gaza, home to some 1.5 million Palestinians, many refugees or descendants of those who fled or were driven away when Israel was founded, is separate and isolated from the other Palestinian territory of the West Bank.

Israel tightly monitors Gaza's frontiers, and cross-border violence is frequent with militants often firing rockets at Israel and Israel staging deadly bombing raids against militant targets in the coastal territory.

Bandak's visit to Auschwitz, where he laid a wreath at the invitation of a group working for tolerance in Poland, was a rare one by a Palestinian to the death camp site. Muslim officials from other countries have also paid respects there.

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; editing by Todd Eastham)

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Comments (2)
TomUsher wrote:
Raul Hilberg, said he estimated it at 5.1 million Jews, not 6 million. Why do you say it was 6 million when you don’t know? Why don’t you say “an estimated 5.1 million (per holocaust historian Raul Hilberg)”? That would be vastly better journalism even though still not as good as it should be.

This is a serious comment. I would appreciate an equally serious answer here from Reuters.

The number is in serious dispute. Why don’t you treat it that way? What’s been preventing that? Were you simply unaware of Hilberg’s figure? I’m not saying you weren’t. It’s a legitimate question.

People are more than merely contemplating killing a great many Iranians over Iran’s nuclear energy and nuclear medicine projects and are using the 6 million figure to make Iran look evil for raising doubts when there is excellent reason for such doubts, as I just demonstrated above.

Thank you in advance for your thorough attention to, and answer concerning, this potentially highly deadly matter that impacts the entire planet.

Aug 02, 2012 6:19am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Jossef wrote:
For all those who tell Israel to ease up on the
Gaza blocade and to be open to a two-state
solution, here we see clearly what Hamas
(which governs half the Palestinian people) is all about,
not only a terrorist organization but a Hulocost deniers
in the mold of Ahmadinijad. There should be no further negotiation
until the Palestinian elects a reasonable single governing
body who accepts Israel as a Jewish state.

Aug 02, 2012 11:38am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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