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Profile: Rafat Abu Shaban
Positions that Rafat Abu Shaban has held:
- Commissioner of the Muslim Waqf in the Gaza Strip
Rafat Abu Shaban was a participant or observer in the following events:
In 1973 Hafez Assad approves a new, secular constitution for Syria, and declares that the country is a “democratic, popular, socialist state,” creating a backlash of violent Islamist demonstrations. Beginning in 1976, the Muslim Brotherhood carries out hundreds of attacks in Syria in an attempt to bring down the secular government. Israel and Jordan provide generous support for these operations, for example establishing training camps for the Muslim Brotherhood in Lebanon and Jordan near the Syrian border. In one incident in 1979, a gang of Brotherhood militants murders 83 military cadets by locking them inside a buliding and attacking it with automatic weapons and firebombs. Newsweek reports in 1981 that “over the past five years the Brotherhood has assassinated hundreds of Alawite members of Assad’s ruling Baath Parthy along with their relatives, Assad’s personal doctor, and a number of Soviet advisers.” In 1982, the Syrian army brutally suppresses the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters, massacring thousands in the city of Hama, a strong center of support for the Brotherhood. This puts an end to the wave of violence. [Dreyfuss, 2005, pp. 199-205]
In 1973 Israeli military authorities in charge of the West Bank and Gaza allow Sheikh Ahmed Yassin to establish the Islamic Center, an Islamic fundamentalist organization. With Israel’s support, Yassin’s organization soon gains control of hundreds of mosques, charities, and schools which serve as recruiting centers for militant Islamic fundamentalism. In 1976 Yassin creates another organization called the Islamic Association that forms hundreds of branches in Gaza. In 1978 the Islamic Association is licensed by the government of Menachem Begin over the objections of moderate Palesinians including the Commissioner of the Muslim Waqf in the Gaza Strip, Rafat Abu Shaban. Yassin also recieves funding from business leaders in Saudi Arabia who are also hostile to the secular PLO for religious reasons. The Saudi government, however, steps in and attempts to halt the private funds going to Yassin, because they view him as a tool of Israel. [United Press International, 2/24/2001; CounterPunch, 1/18/2003; Dreyfuss, 2005, pp. 195 - 197] Yassin will go on to form Hamas in the 1980s, which is created with the help of Israeli intelligence (see 1987).
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