Abbas forced to drop anti-Kassam plan

Armed groups threaten to attack PA security forces.

al aksa points gun 298 (photo credit: AP [file])
al aksa points gun 298
(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was forced earlier this week to call off plans to deploy PA security personnel in the northern Gaza Strip when several armed groups, including militias from his own Fatah movement, threatened to attack these forces, PA officials here told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. Abbas had planned to deploy several hundred PA policemen and security officers in an attempt to stop the armed organizations from firing rockets at Israel, the officials said, noting that the proposed move had won the backing of the US and Israel. "Those who are firing Kassam rockets at Israel from the northern Gaza Strip are acting against the interests of the Palestinian people and are providing Israel with an excuse to continue its aggression in the Gaza Strip," said one official. "President Abbas has a serious plan aimed at stopping the rocket attacks, but the armed groups are refusing to cooperate." Last week, Abbas announced that the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip had accepted his call for a unilateral cease-fire with Israel. The announcement came after a series of meetings Abbas held in Gaza City with PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and a number of Hamas officials. Another PA official told the Post that Hamas was the only group that had accepted Abbas's proposal to halt rocket attacks. "The main problem we have is with Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, and with Islamic Jihad, which have rejected the cease-fire proposal," he said. According to the official, Abbas and the rest of the Fatah leadership have almost no control over the various Fatah militias operating in the Gaza Strip. "Fatah has at least seven or eight armed groups in the Gaza Strip and some of them are receiving financial aid from Hizbullah, Syria and Iran," he said. "The situation in the Gaza Strip is very problematic." A statement issued by the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in Gaza City said the group "categorically rejects plans to deploy Palestinian security forces in the northern Gaza Strip." According to the group, the plan would have "negative" implications for Palestinians because it is aimed at protecting Israeli "settlements" inside Israel proper from rockets. "How can we stop the rocket attacks while Israel is continuing to attack our people from the air, land and sea?" the group asked. "Why should we give Israel free gifts at a time when its army is perpetrating ugly crimes against our people in the Gaza Strip?" Hamas's armed wing, Izaddin Kassam, said in a separate statement that "Palestinian policemen will never again serve as defenders of Israel." It continued, "The Palestinians' armed groups and the security forces were established to protect the Palestinian people, and not Israel. The Palestinian security forces can only be deployed in the northern Gaza Strip if Israel halts its attacks and incursions [into the Strip]." The leaders of three other armed groups - the Popular Resistance Committees, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - also announced their strong opposition to the deployment of PA security forces in the northern Gaza Strip and warned Abbas against trying to stop the rocket attacks on Israel. Meanwhile, PA Attorney-General Ahmed al-Mughni said the authority's leaders and security forces were responsible for the growing state of anarchy and lawlessness in the Strip. "The security chaos crisis is a general problem and is the result of a lack of respect for the rule of law," he said. He blamed unruly militias and the absence of a strong judicial system, as well as rivalries between the various factions, for the anarchy in Gaza.