9 top Fatah gunmen surrender to PA

Several top fugitives decide to obey PA orders, give up weapons to avoid being targeted by the IDF.

fatah gunmen 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
fatah gunmen 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Nine top Fatah gunmen from Nablus on Tuesday surrendered their weapons to the Palestinian Authority security forces out of fear of being targeted by Israel. The move was also made in the wake of growing discontent in the city over the gunmen's continued activities in the city - the main reason behind repeated IDF operations there. The decision followed a report in Sunday's The Jerusalem Post, which appears to have embarrassed the PA. According to the report, many Fatah gunmen were continuing to operate freely in the city despite the PA's claim that Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, had been dismantled. The following day, PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad visited Nablus and urged the gunmen, who are all wanted by Israel, to hand over their weapons as a first step toward joining the PA police force. This is in accordance with previous promises made by the PA, which state that Aksa Martyrs Brigades gunmen who surrender their weapons are to be incorporated into security forces after three months. Fayad's visit came shortly after the IDF launched a massive operation in Nablus's old city, where troops discovered a large weapons cache and explosives belonging to the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. During the three-day operation, the IDF arrested 19 Fatah operatives, including two officers serving in the PA security forces. The PA governor of Nablus, Jamal Muhessein, said the nine gunmen would stay in a Palestinian security installation for three months. He said all the men had signed a pledge to refrain from carrying out military activities against Israel and to obey the orders of the PA leadership. Among those who surrendered to the PA are Mahdi Abu Ghazalah, commander of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in Nablus, and Saleh Abu al-Hayat, who has been wanted by Israel for the past six years. Abu Ghazalah said he and his colleagues took the decision out of their own volition and without coming under pressure. He said the move was made so as not to give Israel an excuse to continue carrying out military operations in the city.