Ramallah, occupied West Financial institution – The Palestinian Authority (PA) has intensified its crackdown on political opponents within the Israeli-occupied West Financial institution over the previous months, analysts say.
The PA run by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah social gathering has since November obstructed welcome occasions held upon the discharge of Palestinian prisoners affiliated with different political events, notably the Gaza-based resistance teams, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
Maybe extra controversially, funeral processions for Palestinians killed by Israel – whom Palestinians sacredly check with as “martyrs” – have additionally been disrupted by PA safety forces in an effort to suppress public shows of help for rival events.
On a number of events, PA safety forces turned violent, together with the firing of tear gasoline at crowds, finishing up preemptive arrests of occasion contributors, forceful confiscation of Hamas, PIJ and supporters of Common Entrance for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) social gathering flags, and firing reside ammunition into the air.
Final month, a younger Palestinian man, 24-year-old Amir al-Leddawi, died attributable to accidents he sustained when his car flipped over, which his household says occurred as he was being chased by a PA safety power car after he participated in a procession to have fun the discharge of 61-year-old Hamas chief Shaker Amara in Jericho.
PA officers stated they launched an investigation into the youth’s dying – the outcomes of that are but to be introduced.
Yousif al-Zumur, head of the investigation committee shaped in Jericho’s Aqabat Jabr refugee camp – the place al-Leddawi’s household resides – advised Al Jazeera that the investigation will probably be accomplished by January 30, after which the outcomes will probably be introduced publicly.
In late November, through the funeral of 14-year-old Amjad Abu Sultan who was shot lifeless by Israeli forces within the village of Beit Jala, west Bethlehem, undercover safety forces – in plainclothes – raided the procession and forcefully prevented mourners from carrying Hamas, PIJ and PFLP flags by confiscating and breaking them.
The PFLP responded in an announcement saying the PA and its safety providers ought to “assume their duties in ending their irresponsible campaigns, threats and systematic incitement in opposition to political events, opponents and activists”, whereas Hamas stated “this solely serves the [Israeli] occupation and its insurance policies of persecuting resistance within the West Financial institution.”
Declining PA reputation
The variety of raids on welcome processions for freed prisoners notably elevated days after the funeral of Wasfi Qabha, a Hamas chief and former minister in Jenin metropolis within the northern occupied West Financial institution in mid-November. Dozens of armed males appeared publicly throughout his funeral with the banners of Hamas – and to a lesser extent, PIJ – raised.
Political analyst Hani al-Masry believes that this seemingly new development of obstructing funeral and prisoner launch processions will be traced to the decline within the PA’s reputation, owing to the failure of its political challenge to kind a state for the 4.5 million Palestinians residing within the 1967-occupied territories of East Jerusalem, the West Financial institution and Gaza Strip.
“The PA fears the expansion of different factions, in addition to the decline in its standing, and [potential] collapse,” al-Masry, who’s the director of Masarat – The Palestinian Heart for Coverage Analysis and Strategic Research in Ramallah, advised Al Jazeera.
Pointing to hovering reputation for Hamas and PIJ within the occupied West Financial institution since Could, al-Masri stated the 2 armed actions “preach resistance” whereas the PA “preaches negotiations and peaceable resistance, as we noticed in President Abbas’ pledges to [Israeli Defence Minister] Benny Gantz”.
“Due to this fact, any affect by Hamas, PIJ, and the PFLP places the PA and its survival to the take a look at,” he continued.
Common help for Hamas dramatically elevated through the 11-day Israeli bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip, following Israel’s attempts to forcibly displace Palestinians within the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem, and the widespread confrontations with Israeli forces that ensued throughout historic Palestine. Throughout common protests, one of the crucial widespread chants hailed Mohammad al-Deif – the commander of Hamas’s navy wing, the al-Qassam Brigades.
A December 14 ballot by the Palestinian Heart for Coverage and Survey Analysis confirmed that if President Abbas had been to compete with the pinnacle of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, the latter would win by 58 p.c in contrast with 35 p.c for the previous. The ballot additionally means that 71 p.c of Palestinians disapprove of Abbas’s efficiency. In keeping with the ballot, if Hamas had been to compete in legislative elections, it will win by 38 p.c, in contrast with 35 p.c for Fatah.
The charged environment within the West Financial institution has additionally translated into the arrests of Palestinian activists.
Legal professionals for Justice, a authorized agency that represents political detainees, documented 112 arrests in November and December, out of a complete of 340 in 2021. The group’s director, Muhannad Karajah, stated, “previously two months, the tempo of arrests multiplied.”
“We documented circumstances of detention or summoning and interrogation over participation in Wasfi Qabha’s funeral or in celebrations of freed prisoners,” he advised Al Jazeera.
“In a single case in Qalqiliya, safety providers summoned 20 folks to warn them in opposition to collaborating in prisoner launch celebrations. College students from Birzeit and An-Najah universities had been detained for organising celebrations to commemorate the launch of the Hamas motion,” he continued.
PIJ chief Khader Adnan witnessed a number of prisoner launch occasions the place the PA tried to forestall the elevating of Hamas and PIJ banners.
“I used to be within the city of Tammun in Tubas when safety forces attacked the convoy of launched prisoner Azmi Bani Ouda. They minimize off the convoy’s path and pursued those that carried Islamic Jihad banners,” Adnan advised Al Jazeera.
In one other incident he witnessed in Tulkarm, safety forces cornered the convoy of Muhammad al-Arif, a member of Hamas launched from jail. Safety forces fired tear gasoline on the crowd when the latter reached the reception corridor and introduced out a few Hamas banners.
Adnan stated there have been no armed teams in both occasions, nor had been there any skirmishes or verbal altercations with the safety forces.
He stated he believes that the matter just isn’t restricted to Hamas – the PA’s most important rival within the occupied West Financial institution.
The armed political motion, Hamas, has been the de facto ruler within the besieged Gaza Strip since 2007 after it defeated Fatah in parliamentary elections. Fatah was pushed out of the Strip because it tried a preemptive coup which resulted in a number of weeks of violent preventing. The 2 events have dominated the occupied Gaza Strip and West Financial institution respectively ever since, with inner division plaguing Palestinian politics.
“On the funeral of the martyr Amjad Abu Sultan in Bethlehem, the banners of the PFLP, Hamas and Islamic Jihad had been confiscated, suggesting that the PA doesn’t need any presence of resistance factions within the West Financial institution,” Adnan stated.
“We’ve been prevented from collaborating in nationwide actions at universities for years,” he continued, and identified that “members of Islamic Jihad and Hamas will not be allowed to work in authorities establishments for punitive safety causes.”
Khaled al-Hajj, a Hamas chief in Jenin who witnessed a number of related obstructions by safety forces, agrees. He famous that the problem of prisoners is “a delicate subject for the Palestinian folks, who’re used to honouring and celebrating” their launch.
“The general public was shocked by this coup in opposition to Palestinian traditions; their processions had been attacked and sprayed with tear gasoline. This can be a harmful matter that have to be stopped. In any other case, it’d result in surprising reactions,” he advised Al Jazeera.
“The safety providers are nervous, particularly since a chant not too long ago unfold within the West Financial institution hailing Mohammad al-Deif as a hero,” added al-Hajj.
Violating freedom of expression
On December 13, safety forces raided a funeral procession for a Palestinian man, Jamil Kayyal, who had been shot lifeless throughout an armed confrontation with Israeli forces in Nablus.
Though Kayyal was affiliated with Fatah, PA officers fired tear gasoline at mourners after armed males fired pictures into the air on the funeral.
The PA justified the incident, saying “it’s unacceptable that gunmen hearth pictures posing a threat to the lives of these within the procession, together with members of the safety forces,” Talal Dwaikat, spokesperson for the Palestinian safety providers, advised the official Palestinian information company.
Political analyst Nihad Abu Ghosh believes that the PA’s violence just isn’t restricted to Palestinian opposition factions, giving an instance of the PA’s response to mass demonstrations against the killing of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat throughout his arrest by safety forces in June 2021.
He stated it’s “an indication of weak point” and reveals that the PA fears for its survival. The PA does this “to dam the trail for these protests or actions to develop; they may flip into broader protest phenomenons that would ultimately topple the PA”, stated Abu Ghosh.
“The PA is appearing on this method out of panic, in a means that reveals that it’s in an actual disaster,” he continued, mentioning its deep monetary woes and lack of ability to guard Palestinians.
The PA was shaped as an interim, five-year governing physique in 1994 as a part of the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Group (PLO) underneath Yasser Arafat, which had been meant to result in a Palestinian state. Abbas, chairman of Fatah and the PLO, succeeded Arafat in 2005 and has remained in workplace since then, regardless of his mandate ending in 2009.
In the present day, the PA has restricted management in Palestinian metropolis centres within the occupied West Financial institution, and is closely criticised for sustaining its policy of “security coordination” with Israel – which incorporates sharing intelligence details about activists and publicly stating it’s serving to Israel thwart assaults. It is usually been unable to pay its civil servants’ salaries in full.
Shawan Jabarin, director of the Ramallah-based Al-Haq rights group, believes that attacking folks celebrating the discharge of prisoners from Israeli jails is a violation of freedom of expression.
He famous that occasion obstructions “contain a level of discrimination”.
“If there’s a normal tendency to forestall such celebrations, this could apply to everybody. It’s unreasonable to permit some to have fun, whereas forbidding others based mostly on their political identification,” he advised Al Jazeera.
“In all circumstances, this doesn’t serve the Palestinian nationwide trigger.”