For those who were looking for an official statement or reaction from Israel regarding the execution of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein early Saturday, there was no such reaction to be found. A search of official government and independent news websites in Israel found no official comments from the state, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
The only reactions to the execution came in the form of unofficial comments made by government officials including Vice Premier Shimon Peres who equated Saddam to Hitler, saying that his demise was also expected, as he was a threat to the Middle East and the entire world. “He was a dictator who was responsible for three wars, the assassination of hundreds of thousands and for the death of millions more,” Peres said.
Other ministers also chimed in on the execution: Minister Eli Yishai of Shas praised the American struggle in Iraq and said the execution was to be expected. Ministers Ze’ev Boim and Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh connected the execution with Israel and reminded that Saddam Hussein was an enemy to Israel who was in the process of developing nuclear weapons against Israel and fired 39 Scud missiles at Israel during the 1991 Gulf War. Sneh also said that before the US invaded Iraq, Saddam sent substantial amounts of money to the families of each suicide bomber who blew himself up in Israel.
However, Palestinian reactions to the execution were very much different, as Saddam was seen as an enemy to Israel and one who supported the armed Palestinian struggle against Israel, including sending $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers and $10,000 to families of Palestinians killed in combat with Israel, totaling an estimated $35 million.
At least one parade in Saddam’s honor took place in Gaza Saturday with some Palestinians carrying posters of Saddam next to posters of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Other figures who condemned the execution of Saddam were Knesset members Ahmad Tibi and Muhammad Barakeh who said the US had not acted appropriately regarding Saddam. MK Tibi said Saturday that the execution was a “sadistic act and a mark of Cain on the American occupation [in Iraq]."