(photo credit: AP)
The Palestinian Authority security forces have been instructed to resume their campaign against Palestinians suspected of "collaboration" with Israel, PA officials disclosed on Monday. The officials said the order came in the wake of Israel's ongoing policy of targeted assassinations against Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah members, especially in the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinians believe that Israel is increasingly relying on Palestinian informers in tracking down and killing the wanted activists. "We have decided to wage a war on the traitors who are helping Israel kill our activists," said a Fatah legislator. The PA already has about 100 suspected collaborators in its prisons in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including six on death row.
Fatah and Hamas legislators have been urging the PA leadership over the past few weeks to crack down on Palestinians suspected of tipping off the Israeli security forces about the whereabouts and movements of wanted activists.
At a closed meeting of the Palestinian Legislative Council's Security Affairs Committee earlier this week, the Fatah and Hamas legislators put aside their differences when the issue of the "collaborators' file" was raised. The committee is headed by former Fatah security commander and minister Muhammad Dahlan, who himself has been repeatedly accused by his rivals of collaborating with Israel and the US.
The parliamentary committee, whose job is to oversee the work of the various branches of the PA security forces, decided that the time had come to launch a massive crackdown on collaborators. The members of the committee also decided to issue instructions to the judiciary system to pass death sentences against those found guilty of working for the Israeli security services.
"We have decided that we need a comprehensive plan to deal with the phenomenon of collaborators," one of the Fatah legislators told The Jerusalem Post, noting that Dahlan fully supported the calls for cracking down on suspected collaborators.
Two of the committee members, Mahmoud Musleh and Ashraf Juma'ah, presented a working paper to their colleagues in which they explained that the failure of the PA security forces and the courts to take tough measures against collaborators was one of the reasons behind the growing anarchy in PA-ruled areas.
At least seven Palestinians have been killed in the past two months in the West Bank after being accused of collaboration with Israel. All the killings were carried out by Fatah militiamen belonging to the group's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. The victims, who were executed in public squares, included two women from Nablus aged 28 and 50.
In an unrelated development, three senior Hamas members who were arrested by the IDF in Ramallah during Operation Defensive Shield have demanded an investigation into the circumstances of their arrest. The three, Bilal Barghouti, Salim Hijeh and Ahmed Abu Taha, were arrested in 2002 together with scores of Hamas prisoners who were being held inside the headquarters of the Preventive Security Service in the town of Beitunya near Ramallah. The three have since been sentenced to several life terms for their responsibility in a series of suicide bombings inside Israel.
In a letter to PA Minister for Prisoners' Affairs Wasfi Kabaha, the prisoners hinted that the IDF raid on the headquarters of the Preventive Security Service was carried out in coordination with top PA security commanders.
"We are demanding a serious investigation by the Palestinian Legislative Council into the circumstances surrounding our kidnapping from the Palestinian security facility," the three Hamas men wrote to the minister. "We want the council to determine who was responsible for our kidnapping and to bring them to trial."
Kabaha said he was planning to bring the prisoners' letter to the attention of the PLC in the coming days so that the legislators could discuss the issue.
Jibril Rajoub, then-commander of the Preventive Security Service in the West Bank, has strongly denied allegations that he helped Israel capture the Hamas fugitives.