Security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel will not be affected by the recent flare-up of violence in the West Bank, an adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas told The Jerusalem Post.
The adviser’s assertion came hours after Egyptian intelligence officials visited Ramallah on Friday, where they held talks with Abbas on ways of calming the situation in the aftermath of the recent terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers in the West Bank.
The Egyptian officials expressed support for Abbas and the PA leadership, the adviser told the Post. “They also urged President Abbas to take the necessary measures to prevent a further deterioration,” he said.
He also rejected increased calls by Palestinians to end security coordination between the PA and Israel, and said those who are making such demands are “acting against the interests of the Palestinian people.”
Several Palestinian groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have in recent days repeated their call for halting security coordination with Israel.
“Hamas is trying to ignite the West Bank after it reached a ceasefire with Israel in the Gaza Strip,” Abbas’s adviser said. “The Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip feel comfortable and safe now that they know that they wouldn’t be targeted by Israel, and are receiving millions of dollars from Qatar. Hamas is trying to undermine the Palestinian Authority.”
On Friday, PA policemen used force to disperse dozens of Palestinians who took to the streets of Hebron and Nablus to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the founding of Hamas.
The crackdown, which resulted in the wounding and arrest of several Palestinians, is seen by Palestinian political analysts as a warning to Hamas that the PA will not tolerate any attempt to spark a new wave of unrest in the West Bank.
The crackdown, the analysts said, is also aimed at sending a message to Israel, the US and the rest of the international community that the PA remains committed to preventing the Gaza-based Hamas from extending its control to the West Bank.
On Friday, PA security forces arrested several Hamas supporters in Hebron and Nablus, including two journalists, Palestinian sources said. Meanwhile, Palestinians in the Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem took to the streets to protest the PA crackdown on Hamas supporters.
Videos and photos of PA policemen firing tear gas and beating the demonstrators with clubs drew strong condemnations from several Palestinian groups and figures, who accused the PA security forces of collaboration with Israel. They also said that instead of defending their people against Israel, the PA security forces have been beating “peaceful” Palestinian demonstrators, including women and children, on the streets of Hebron and Nablus.
Jamil Karama, a Hamas-affiliated resident of Hebron who previously served 10 years in Israeli prison for security-related offenses, said he was brutally attacked during the demonstration.
Karama posted a video on social media in which he sarcastically thanked the PA for the “blood that is dripping from my head.” He added: “I was beaten by my own people. Thank you to all the families whose sons are beating Palestinians in order to serve the Jews. Thank you to the [Palestinian] security forces that are defending their president, whose headquarters may be raided by an [Israeli] army patrol.”
The Switzerland-based Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, an organization that advocates for human rights across Europe and the Middle East, called on the PA to launch an investigation into “systematic human rights violations” by the Palestinian security forces.
The group accused the PA security forces of using excessive force against “peaceful” demonstrators in the West Bank. It also pointed out several journalists who were covering the demonstrations were also beaten or detained by the PA security forces.
Hamas said that the “brutal attack” on its supporters was proof the PA’s “disregard for the blood of the martyrs and the suffering of our people in the West Bank.” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that the crackdown on the demonstrators “encourages” Israel to continue with its measures against the Palestinians.
Another Hamas spokesman, Hazem Qassem, called on the PA to apologize for the “crime” its security forces committed against the demonstrators. He also called for holding accountable and bringing to trial those responsible for “this despicable crime.”
The PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine also condemned the PA for attacking the demonstrators and called for honoring public freedoms, especially freedom of expression.
The PA governor of Hebron, Jibrin al-Bakri, defended the use of force against the Hamas supporters and claimed that the videos posted on social media of the incident were “fabricated.” He said that the violence in Hebron erupted after some Hamas women physically and verbally attacked Palestinian policemen. “What happened does not serve the interests of our people and their national cause,” he added.
The Popular Resistance Committees, a coalition of various Palestinian terrorist groups, accused the PA security forces of “repressing” the Palestinians and called for halting security coordination with Israel.