Jihad slams PA for arresting members

Islamic Jihad says activities are restricted to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

jihad member 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
jihad member 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Islamic Jihad, which claimed responsibility for Monday's suicide attack in Netanya, on Tuesday lashed out at the Palestinian Authority for condemning the bombing and arresting a number of its operatives in the West Bank. PA security forces were only partially successful in attempting to clamp down on Jihad activists for violating the unofficial truce with Israel, meeting fierce resistance in Jenin. Islamic Jihad denied that it has offices in Syria, saying its activities were solely restricted to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A senior Jihad official in Gaza City expressed "astonishment" at statements issued by PA officials in which they condemned the Netanya attack. Referring to Israeli and US charges that the Islamic Jihad leadership was operating from Syria, the official claimed that the organization's secretary-general, Ramadan Shalah, had left Syria several months ago, but refused to elaborate. Another Jihad official in the West Bank accused the PA of succumbing to Israeli and American pressure. "The Palestinian Authority is serving the interests of Israel," he charged. "This is a very dangerous development and we will have to respond." Hours after the attack, PA security forces tried unsuccessfully to detain a Jihad terrorist in Jenin. The man, who was not identified, was shot in the shoulder during the attempt to detain him. Eyewitnesses said scores of Fatah and Islamic Jihad gunmen, backed by many civilians, foiled the attempt to apprehend the terrorist and take him to a prison in Jericho. Local members of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah's armed wing, voiced support for the suicide attack, pledging to use force to thwart any attempt by the PA to detain Islamic Jihad officials. The group's commander, Zakariya Zubeidi, was among those who welcomed the attack, saying it was "a natural response to Israeli violations of the truce." Another attempt to detain Jihad activists in the Balata and Askar refugee camps near Nablus also failed after dozens of gunmen drove back the PA security forces after pelting them with stones. However, in the early hours of Tuesday the PA security forces managed to take into custody three Jihad members from Nablus. They were identified as Ayman Abed Rabbo, Daoud Makkawi and Zuhdi Tabileh. PA security officials said the three were not involved in the Netanya attack and that they had been detained as part of a crackdown on supporters of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank for violating the unofficial truce with Israel. In Bethlehem, the PA security forces detained Jamal Shakhtour and Nasser Karaki, two senior representatives of Islamic Jihad, after raiding their homes. Salah Ta'amari, the PA-appointed governor of Bethlehem, told the Maan News Agency the crackdown on Islamic Jihad was related to the national interests of the Palestinians. He also denied that the PA was acting under Israeli and American pressure. "As far as I know, no outside parties are involved in what the Palestinian Authority is doing," he said. Voicing widespread resentment among Palestinians at the Netanya bombing, Hafez Barghouti, the editor of the PA's daily Al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, warned that such attacks would play into the hands of Israeli right-wingers. "What's the goal of this operation?" he asked. "Is it to seek revenge? Or to destroy our upcoming [parliamentary] elections? Such operations unite the Israeli right-wing parties because any military operation that does not have a political goal is fruitless. We are sick and tired of allowing a minority of people to tamper with our fate."