JERUSALEM – Palestinians in the northern West Bank have named a major street after late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein that was funded – along with the surrounding municipality – by the United States Agency for International Development.
Following Saddam’s hanging earlier this month, thousands of Palestinians gathered in the Yaabid municipality, just outside of the northern West Bank town of Jenin, to hold a vigil in his honor.
According to Arabic media reports translated by Palestinian Media Watch, local Palestinian municipal leaders and members of armed factions in Jenin named a school and the municipality’s main street after Saddam.
WND confirmed with local leaders the Yaabid street currently bears Saddam’s name.
The Palestinian daily Al-Hayat al-Jadida stated the street’s dedication was meant to emphasize the “values of Arabness and Jihad, which [Saddam] represented.”
But USAID held a ceremony in July 2005 marking its contributions of $402,000 for paving the Yaabid municipality’s main street – now named after Saddam – as well nearly two miles of inner streets. The American agency also contributed to the reconstruction of the city’s main entrance.
USAID regularly funds reconstruction efforts in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, usually hiring local crews to carry out the construction.
USAID’s office in Tel Aviv confirmed to WND it coordinated the Yaabid municipality’s paving and reconstruction projects.
David Snider, a USAID spokesman, said his agency was not aware the street was renamed after Saddam.
“As always, USAID is fully compliant with all U.S. legislation and U.S. laws,” Snider told WND.
Zacharias Zubeidi, leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Yaabid, told WND the city changed the name on the U.S.-funded street to show “Saddam Hussein is still alive.”
“We will honor his memory until the American and Zionist occupation is driven from our land,” Zubeidi said.
Saddam was considered a hero to most Palestinians. His final words prior to his hanging reportedly included “Palestine is Arab.”
During the first Gulf War in 1991, Palestinians cheered Saddam’s missile attacks on Israel, chanting “Beloved Saddam, strike Tel Aviv,” as the Scud missiles flew overhead. Some scuds fell short and landed in Palestinian areas.
Saddam further endeared himself to the Palestinians during the latest Palestinian intifada, or terror war, which began in September 2000. The Iraqi dictator donated about $25,000 to the family of each Palestinian suicide bomber and $10,000 for each Palestinian killed while committing attacks against Israel. The stipends amounted to an estimated $35 million.
Mideast analysts say Saddam’s support for the Palestinian cause was mostly aimed at gaining widespread support throughout the Arab world.
This is not the first time USAID projects to the Palestinians have been connected to support of terrorism and jihad.
WND reported USAID has reconstructed roads and municipalities in areas in the Gaza Strip controlled by Hamas.
In a WND interview, Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar thanked USAID for its efforts.
According to Palestinian Media Watch translations, after USAID funded road projects in Jenin in 2004, a central street there was named after the first Iraqi suicide bomber, who killed four American soldiers in Fallujah. The mayor of Jenin reportedly participated in an anti-American dedication ceremony in which speakers blessed the “resistance of the residents of Fallujah”
Also, a USAID-funded Palestinian sports center was named after Salef Khalef, operational head of the Black September terror organization, which was behind the killing of two U.S. diplomats in Sudan in 1973 and the massacre one year earlier of 11 Israeli Olympic athletes in Munich.
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