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February 6, 2014 5:32 pm
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Arabs Incensed by Footage of Gazan Businessman Embracing Israeli General (VIDEO)

avatar by Joshua Levitt

A controversial screenshot of a Gazan businessman hugging an Israeli general at a luncheon. Photo: Screenshot / Elder of Ziyon.

A controversial screenshot of a Gazan businessman hugging an Israeli general at a luncheon. Photo: Screenshot / Elder of Ziyon.

Online video footage of a Gazan businessman embracing a retiring Israeli general at a lunch on Wednesday incensed many online Arab readers, with some calling for the businessmen to be put on trial and others saying similar meetings should be made illegal, according to Al Arab24 and other Arab sites.

The footage showed Israeli General Eitan Dangot, head of the Israel Defense Force’s division in charge of Gaza, known as COGAT, the Coordination of Government Activites in the Territories, who was retiring after four years in the post. At the lunch in his honor, the Israeli was embraced by Ali Al-Hayek, one of Gaza’s most prominent businessmen and a high-profile representative of the Palestinian private sector.

According to blogger Elder of Ziyon, who translated the Arabic press reports, “Hayek claimed that the person he embraced was retired from the Army, and that it was strange that the media showed footage of them being civil to each other but did not show footage of the arguments by Palestinians for the introduction of the materials to the Gaza Strip, in full coordination between the private sector and governments in Ramallah and Gaza.”

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Civil Affairs, which helped organize the meeting, was caught on the defensive, the blogger said. They confirmed the meeting, which took place at the Erez crossing, saying it was held to debate the problems of the Gaza Strip, the issues of the blockade of the introduction of construction materials and oil, gas and food, “and that this video misrepresents the atmosphere.”

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Maher Abu Alouf, Director General of Gaza’s Ministry of Civil Affairs said that these meetings “are publicly known but are not friendly nor are they a form of normalization,” and he expressed “disapproval of the misrepresentations by some activists and the media.”

Elder of Ziyon commented on the attempts to downplay what the footage showed as a happy meeting: “‘Normalization’ is one of the worst things Arabs can accuse each other of. Think about that for a while.”

Readers of his blog noted that Dangot’s replacement at COGAT, Brig.-Gen. Yoav “Poli” Mordechai, is fluent in Arabic, conversant in Arab culture and has both combat and intelligence experience. “Given Poli’s reputation, I’m sure he’ll plan plenty more lunches,” wrote one reader.

Another commenter wrote, “I had heard about the IDF ‘oppressing’ Palestinians with a smile. Now I know what it means. The Palestinians are smiling, too.”

Watch the footage of the Israeli general being embraced by the Gaza businessman below:

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