Palestinian Authority security personnel used force to prevent two prominent
Hamas figures from delivering sermons during Friday prayers, triggering clashes
The violence erupted after dozens of PA policemen raided
two mosques in the Hebron area where Hamas legislators Nayef Rajoub and Muhammad
Abu Jhaisheh were supposed to deliver the Friday khutba (sermon).
clashes prompted the PA to close down the mosques, forcing enraged worshipers to
search for alternative prayer sites.
Rajoub, who was minister for Wakf
affairs in the Hamas-led unity government with Fatah more than three years ago,
said that policemen in plain clothes approached him soon after he entered a
mosque in his home village of Dura and warned him not to deliver the
“When I asked them for a written order, they assaulted me,” he
said. “When some of the people inside the mosque tried to intervene, the
policemen also beat them, and arrested some of them.”
Rajoub, who was
released from an Israeli prison on June 20 after serving a 50-month sentence,
accused the PA of waging a “war against mosques and Islam in collusion with
Rajoub said that he has been serving as a preacher for nearly 30
years. He added that despite the ban, he would continue to lead Friday prayers
and deliver sermons.
“Jewish settlers are torching mosques, the Israeli
army is demolishing mosques and the Palestinian Authority is expelling
preachers,” he said.
Nayef Rajoub is the brother of Jibril Rajoub, a
former PA security commander and one of the prominent leaders of Fatah in the
West Bank, who was one of the first to conduct security coordination with
Israel. The former security commander is known for his ruthless crackdown on
Hamas in the West Bank.
The second incident took place in the village of
Idna, also in the Hebron area.
Eyewitnesses said that Palestinian
security agents stopped Abu Jhaisheh shortly after he entered a mosque and
demanded that he refrain from delivering the sermon.
Last week, Hamas
accused the PA of “waging war on Islam and Allah” by arresting and firing
hundreds of preachers and imams, closing down mosques and Islamic religious
centers and imposing restrictions on religious figures suspected of being
affiliated with Hamas.
Adnan Damiri, spokesman for the Fatah-dominated
security forces in the West Bank, confirmed that his men had entered the mosques
to prevent Rajoub and Abu Jhaisheh from addressing worshipers.
mosques don’t belong to Hamas,” he said, denying that the police had beaten
He also denied that the two mosques had been closed
Damiri said that the move against the mosques was taken in light of
information suggesting that Hamas was preparing to export its “coup” to the West
“They are operating on instructions from [Hamas leader] Khaled
Mashaal,” he said. “They want to create chaos that would start in the mosques.
Their goal is to take over the West Bank.”