Gaza factions form body to ‘support’ Israeli Arabs

The commission’s goal is to “emphasize the unity of the Palestinian people in all their political, national and geographical locations,” according to the committee.

Israeli Arabs protesting the Nakba on Israel's Independence Day, May 9, 2019. (photo credit: YAHYA JABAREEN/TPS)
Israeli Arabs protesting the Nakba on Israel's Independence Day, May 9, 2019.
(photo credit: YAHYA JABAREEN/TPS)

Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip on Saturday announced the formation of a “national commission” to defend and support the Arab citizens of Israel.

A committee representing the factions said that the new body would consist of representatives of “the National and Islamic factions, civil society organizations, legal experts, dignitaries, religious figures and clan leaders.”

The commission’s goal is to “emphasize the unity of the Palestinian people in all their political, national and geographical locations,” according to the committee.

Khaled al-Batsh, a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) official and coordinator of the so-called Follow-up Committee of the National and Islamic Forces, said that the commission was formed “to emphasize the unity of the [Palestinian] cause, the people and the land in the face of the occupation.”

Batsh warned that all Israeli “schemes aimed at Judaizing, annexing and confiscating Palestinian land will not pass.”

 ISRAELI ARABS protest against violence, organized crime and recent killings within the Arab sector, in the town of Umm el-Fahm earlier this year. (credit: RONI OFER/FLASH90) ISRAELI ARABS protest against violence, organized crime and recent killings within the Arab sector, in the town of Umm el-Fahm earlier this year. (credit: RONI OFER/FLASH90)

The “resistance” factions in the Gaza Strip, he said, stand with the Israeli Arabs and are ready to support them with the weapons that these groups possess.

Addressing the Israeli Arabs, the PIJ official said: “We will not allow anyone to erase our identity and the unity of our people.”

He also vowed to “protect the Palestinian project against conspiracies to liquidate the Palestinian issue,” as well as combat normalization between Israel and the Arabs.

Mohsen Abu Ramadan, who was named as the head of the new commission, said that the Palestinians reject all attempts by Israel “to divide the Palestinian people geographically and politically.”

Abu Ramadan praised the Israeli Arabs for “supporting” the Gaza Strip during last year’s war between Israel and the Palestinian armed groups. He was referring to protests and violent clashes that erupted in several Arab communities and mixed cities during the war.

Abu Ramadan was quoted by the Palestinian daily Al-Quds as saying that the new body’s first mission was to organize “popular activities” on the occasion of Land Day on March 30.

Land Day is a day of commemoration for Israeli Arabs of the violence that erupted in 1976 in response to the Israeli government’s plan to expropriate thousands of dunams of land for state purposes. Then, six Arab citizens were killed in clashes with the Israeli security forces.

Abu Ramadan also praised Israeli Arabs for opposing “racist laws” in Israel.

Ahmad Kharis, a senior official with the PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), said that Israeli Arabs are in need of support, especially in the aftermath of Israeli laws and practices targeting them, and the increase in violent crime in the Arab sector.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem described the formation of the commission as “historic.”

He told Hamas-affiliated al-Aqsa TV that the Palestinian people are cohesive everywhere and share “the fight to defend their identity and land.”

“Today we are forming a commission to support our people inside the occupied country to prove that our people cannot be divided,” Qassem said.