Ramallah shooting targets car of top Fatah official

Shooting attacks believed to be connected to internal Fatah squabbling; official was not in car when attack took place.

Palestinian militants in Ramallah 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)
Palestinian militants in Ramallah 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)
Unidentified gunmen in Ramallah opened fire Tuesday morning at the car of Sufian Abu Zaida, a senior Fatah official.
Abu Zaida, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, was not in the car when the attack took place, shortly before 7 a.m. At least 20 bullets hit the vehicle.
It was the second incident of its kind in Ramallah in the past few weeks.
A similar attack in the city targeted the car of another senior Fatah official, Majed Abu Shamaleh. Abu Shamaleh, an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was not hurt.
The shooting attacks are believed to be connected to internal squabbling in Fatah.
Both Abu Zaida and Abu Shamaleh are from the Gaza Strip, but moved to Ramallah after Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007.
The two are also close to ousted Fatah official Muhammad Dahlan – the political rival of the faction’s leader, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Dahlan previously served as a security commander in the Gaza Strip.
Relations between Abbas and Dahlan have deteriorated over the past few years, prompting the PA president to expel him from Fatah. Dahlan, who has since been waging a campaign against Abbas, is currently living in the United Arab Emirates.
Last year, another Fatah official closely associated with Dahlan was shot and wounded in Jenin. Shami al-Shami, who is also a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, took two bullets to the thigh.
Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks on Dahlan’s associates, sources in Ramallah said that Fatah gunmen loyal to Abbas were apparently behind the shootings.
The sources pointed out that the perpetrators had never been caught – a sign that they were affiliated with Abbas or the Fatah-dominated PA security forces in the West Bank.
Following Tuesday’s attack, Abu Zaida pointed a finger at Abbas.
“I hold President Abbas, in his capacity as president of the Palestinian Authority and commander of the security forces, personally responsible for what happened to me and my colleagues and what could happen in the future,” he said.
“I call on Abbas to reveal the identity of the perpetrators of this crime and previous ones.”
Abu Zaida said the assailants and their dispatchers were trying to send a message that he and his colleagues from the Gaza Strip should leave Ramallah.
“Every Palestinian is entitled to live wherever he wants,” he added. “Even if they shoot me next time, they won’t force me to leave [Ramallah] against my will.”
Abu Zaida, who was born in the Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, served as PA minister of prisoner affairs in 2005 and 2006. He was also a member of the steering committee of the Peopleto- People program, which aimed to enhance Israeli-Palestinian relations.
He recently published an article in which he denounced Abbas as a tyrant.