Fayad: Israel 'humiliating' PA with W. Bank raids

PA officials warn measures against Hamas-linked businesses will backfire.

fayad 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
fayad 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian Authority officials warned Thursday that Israel's crackdown on Hamas-affiliated institutions in the West Bank would backfire and boost the Islamic movement's popularity. The officials warned that the measures, apart from being "ineffective," would also undermine the authority of PA President Mahmoud Abbas. They expressed skepticism regarding the possibility that the IDF measures would affect Hamas's finances. "Hamas has several alternative channels for channeling funds to its supporters in the West Bank," the officials said. "The money is coming through money-changers, banks and even Western Union." The warning came as the IDF raided Nablus for the fifth day and closed down several institutions that are believed to be funded by Hamas. The IDF also confiscated computers and other equipment from the institutions. The IDF also raided schools run by Hamas supporters and confiscated buses used to transport students. Among the institutions targeted by the IDF was the Nablus Municipality, whose Hamas mayor is in an Israeli prison. PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad accused Israel of "humiliating" the Palestinians by closing down a shopping mall and charities linked to Hamas in the West Bank. "These measures will weaken the Palestinian Authority," he said. "They will also hamper our efforts to enforce law and order in the West Bank." Fayad and other PA leaders appealed to the US and the EU to intervene with Israel to stop the anti-Hamas measures. The PA governor of Nablus, Jamal Muheisen, strongly condemned the IDF measures, which he said were the result of a political decision by the Israeli government. He added that the measures were aimed at embarrassing and undermining the PA. "Israel is trying to bring back the state of anarchy and lawlessness to the streets of the West Bank," the governor charged. "Israel is targeting institutions that provide various services to the Palestinian public." He also denied allegations that the Nablus Mall that was shut by the IDF earlier in the week belongs to Hamas. "The shopping mall belongs to more than 70 merchants and about 4,000 investors," he said, noting that some of them were Christians. Ziad Bandak, the PA Minister for Local Government, described the IDF raids as "severe blows" to the PA government's efforts to impose law and order. Hamas officials on Thursday scoffed at Israel's argument that the latest measures would destroy Hamas's infrastructure in the West Bank. The officials pointed out that most of the institutions that were shut down belonged to charities run by Hamas supporters and were not directly funded by Hamas. "The money for these institutions comes mainly from donations," said a Hamas official in Nablus. "Since when does the closure of a small clinic or a kindergarten affect Hamas's financial situation?" Another Hamas representative in the West Bank said that while the IDF measures were a "moral" blow to the movement, "the impact they would have on Hamas's standing is zero." He pointed out that many of the Islamic charities that were closed down by the IDF were operating according to a license from the PA government in the West Bank. "Almost every institution in the West Bank has Hamas supporters working for it," the Hamas official said. "Does this mean that Israel is going to close down all the schools, clinics and mosques there?"