If anything, the rally that saw Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah join forces in a rare show of power means that Abbas’s claim that he is fully in control of the situation in West Bank is baseless.
For the first time since 2007, Hamas and Islamic Jihad militiamen this week made a public appearance in the West Bank, raising fears that the two radical groups continue to maintain a military presence in areas controlled by Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority.
Gunman flank a speaker at the Jenin rally staged by Hamas and Islamic Jihad in December 2013.
The masked militiamen made their rare appearance in the Jenin refugee camp during a rally to commemorate Islamic Jihad member Nafi Sa’di, killed by the Israel Defense Forces last December.
Palestinians were surprised to see Hamas and Islamic Jihad militiamen in broad daylight in an area controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinian Authority security forces, which are supposed to be in control of the refugee camp, did not intervene to stop or arrest the Hamas and Islamic Jihad gunmen, even as they fired into the air in honor of Sa’di.
Over the past few years, the US- and EU-backed Palestinian Authority [PA] security forces have been clamping down on Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters in the West Bank. Hundreds of activists belonging to the two radical groups have been arrested as part of the crackdown.
But this time the PA decided not to take any action against the Hamas and Islamic Jihad gunmen despite the fact that their public appearance is seen as a challenge to Abbas’s authority.
One reason for this decision may be attributed to the possibility that the PA is afraid to confront Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The PA is already under attack from many Palestinians for conducting security coordination with Israel.
Last week, Hamas renewed its appeal to the Palestinian Authority leadership to halt all forms for security coordination with Israel.
A statement published by Hamas urged Abbas to “immediately halt security coordination with the Zionist entity.”
Mahmoud Zahar, a top Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, said that Abbas “was committing a big sin by opting to negotiate with Israel and prevent Palestinian resistance. Abbas’s survival depends on continued security coordination with the Zionist enemy. By preventing the resistance, Abbas is weakening himself politically because the resistance supports the political process.”
By allowing Hamas and Islamic Jihad militiamen to participate in a public rally in the West Bank, Abbas may also be seeking to send a message of warning to Israel and the US. This is a message that says that Palestinians have not abandoned the option of armed struggle against Israel as a way of achieving their goals.
Abbas may also be seeking to get more financial aid for the Palestinian Authority from the Americans and Europeans. The message he is sending to the American and European donors is that they need to give him more money and weapons, otherwise Hamas and Islamic Jihad would grow stronger and perhaps seize control of …read more