Palestine: the masks come off

The PA’s security forces have brazenly and officially become an extension of Israel’s

The campaign of arrests carried out by Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces targeting fighters from the Jenin Brigades was part of a deal its leadership struck with Benjamin Netanyahu’s racist and extremist government. It was launched in exchange for some material bribes, VIP cards, and the release of some frozen assets. The Fateh-affiliated al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades did well to disown and denounce this shameful trade-off, thus upholding the values and principles of the Fateh we once knew.

Israel’s occupation forces failed to take control of Jenin Refugee Camp despite sending in 2,000 troops backed by armoured vehicles, tanks and bulldozers on the ground, and drones and Apache helicopters in the air. They pulled back after 48 hours to cut their losses. Now it seems they have delegated the task to the PA’s security forces. They increased their presence in the camp and began rounding people up according to Israeli instructions. A statement from its interior ministry vowed to “sever the hand of anyone who tampers with security and stability and the interests of our country and people.”

The leadership of the PA in Ramallah and commanders of its security forces need to be asked: is resisting the occupation deemed to be a crime, and responding to its massacres to be terrorism and tempering with security and stability?

PA President Mahmoud Abbas didn’t dare visit the camp — flying in on a Jordanian helicopter and protected by hundreds of security men — until he got a ‘permit’ from the resistance brigades as part of an agreement to release all detainees from PA prisons. But no sooner had he left the camp than he reneged on the agreement, and sent his forces in to carry out the wave of arrests in line with his more important and binding agreement with Netanyahu’s government.

It was clear when the Israeli security cabinet met the Sunday before last to discuss its setback in Jenin and ways of strengthening the PA and preventing its collapse, that it wanted the head of the resistance in the northern West Bank, and for it to be decapitated by the PA security forces. That is what is currently being done.

This is an Israeli scheme to sow sedition, starting by coscripting the PA security forces in the service of the Ben-Gvir/Smotrich/Netanyahu government and its plans to annex the West Bank after ejecting its indigenous Palestinian inhabitants. These forces’ commanders and their politics seem to prefer Israeli financial bribes to the goal of ending the occupation and liberating the land.

Having failed to crush the resistance, silence its guns, and bring an end to its operations, the Israeli government is trying to spark a Palestinian civil war in which those guns are turned in self-defence against the PA security forces.

Those forces did not fire a single bullet in defence of Jenin Camp or to protect its inhabitants against bloodthirsty Israeli onslaughts, but have no qualms about firing on members of the resistance in defence of their masters and benefactors the Israeli settlers.

I opposed Abbas’ invitation for a meeting of Palestinian faction leaders in Cairo at the end of the month ostensibly to achieve national unity and reconciliation. I urged the main groups that have fighting wings — Hamas, Jihad, and the PFLP — to learn from similar past deceptions and not repeat the same mistake again. But this call, which is in line with the views of most Palestinians in the homeland diaspora, was not heeded. All three groups announced their acceptance of the invitation. I doubt they’ll be deterred from going even after the PA security forces’ collusion with Israel against the West Bank resistance became obvious.

But this collusion will not succeed in protecting the occupation and its settlers or wiping out the resistance. It will only hasten the collapse in disgrace of the PA itself. It has become a burden on the Palestinian people and a tool to support, strengthen, and prolong the occupation and its annexation and expulsion plans.

In the meantime, the resistance faces the twin gigantic tasks of facing up to the PA’s security forces which have brazenly and officially become an extension of Israel’s, and resisting the occupation’s forces and military and security apparatus, now that all the masks have come off.

Palestine: the masks come off

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