Saturday, 3 January 2009

Targeting civilians in Odense

Two Israelis were shot in Odense, on the Danish island of Fyn, New Year’s Eve. The english-language version of this story on the Politiken website is rather anæmic, as is the BBC version. Later follow-ups in Danish give more detail:
Politiken, 3 January 2009
One of the Israeli victims of a Palestinian’s assassination attempt in Odense tells of week-long harassment prior to the shooting.
By Søren Astrup and P.C. Poulsen
(This translation is my own. I have tried to be as literal as possible, rather than elegant. Note that the victim was originally interviewed in english, so this is a translation of a translation, and can’t be 100% accurate.)
“In the last days before the shooting, I had a feeling that something was going to happen. It was only a question of days, I felt.”
That is how the 26 year old Itai from Israel describes the meeting with a group of young Palestinians in the Rosengård Centre in Odense, which came close to costing him and his comrade their lives.
“Perpetrator wanted to murder us”
On the day of New Year’s Eve, a 27 year old Fyn resident of Palestinian background [in other reports a Danish citizen originally from Lebanon] attempted to murder the two, firing a salvo of nine millimeter projectiles at them in the big shopping centre.
“The motive was political. And the shots were intended to kill us,” he explains of the attempted assassination, which followed after a week-long harassment from the local residents. They had amongst other things gathered in front of the two Israelis’ stand in the shopping centre and waved the Palestinian flag.
“They had several times in the weeks before formed a ring around us, and just before it happened some of them took pictures of us with their mobile phones. Their look was hateful,” tells Itai of the meeting.
Shower of projectiles
Finally the group from Fyn withdrew from the shopping centre.
“When they left it was with a disdainful greeting in english: ‘Nice to meet you, happy new year’. And then only a few moments went by before he showed up and shot at us,” says the shooting victim to Politiken.
“That is why I am convinced that it was planned,” he adds.
“I am certain that he shot to kill, because if it only had been to wound us, then one would only have shot two shots. One at each of us. But here the police found ten cartridge cases after the shooting.”
Warns that it is happening in Denmark
The two Israelis sold shampoo and other beauty products from the Red Sea. The owner of the little booth was in the shopping centre when the Palestinian opened fire - and she is shaken over what she witnessed.
“I saw Palestinians in the centre who were clapping. I saw two Palestinian women with headscarves nearby. They were also clapping. This must and shall affect you, that it can happen in your country,” warns Hila Kiron.
Jail after the shooting
The presumed perpetrator - previously known to the police - has been taken into custody for attempted murder, but denies the charge.
The preliminary court hearing was held behind closed doors out of consideration to foreign powers.
The case is being closely followed by the Police Intelligence Service.
There is a TV report from DR1, the Danish state broadcaster, from 1st of January, on YouTube. It’s in Danish, but the poster Henrik R Clausen has included an accurate english translation in the info box. It includes an interview with two anonymous youths from the neighborhood where the accused lives.
“You should have seen yesterday, a great party we threw because of this. We really, really hope everyone will support him.”
Another TV report on YouTube courtesy of HR Clausen is from TV2 on the 3rd of January. No translation from him this time, I’m afraid, and I can’t face up to the task either, but the clip includes one of the victims speaking in english, ridiculing a claim by the brother of the accused that the incident was not political. This report says that the harassment prior to the attack had been ongoing for months. 
Via Noga here and here, whose posts lead to more links, including to the story of Olav Nielsen, the school principal who is busy telling Danish media that he would discourage Jewish parents from sending their children to him out of fear that they might have “serious problems amongst the Arab children” in his school. Now, this wouldn’t seem to be such an immediate problem, as no Jewish parents have ever actually approached the good headmaster with such a notion, but as he hasn’t heard from them, he’s making sure they hear from him.
This well-meaning humanitarian is a supporter of the Boycott Israel Campaign in Denmark.
Update 6 Jan: some background from Francis Sedgemore.
Update 13 Jan: similar shops made targets of intimidation in London and Belfast.