Protests against Abbas’ rule in PA expanding

June 28, 2021 by Baruch Yedid - TPS
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Over the weekend, protests against the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Mahmoud Abbas expanded, a protest that began following the death of Nizar Banat, a political activist and harsh critic of Abbas, during an investigation by the PA security in Hebron.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah, August 18, 2020. Photo by Flash90.

Protest organizations are calling for the overthrow of Abbas’ regime and going to the polls, and a Hamas source told TPS “the Palestinian Authority has gone bankrupt while Israel is complicit in the crimes committed by Abu Mazen [Abbas] because it is the last brake on the collapse of his regime.”

The PA and Fatah are also pointing to Hamas’ attempt to take advantage of the protests and undermine public order in the PA’s territories, and Fatah has taken to the streets in a series of demonstrations in support of Abbas.

The events are also sweeping the clans in Hebron and Jerusalem, and conflicting messages have been circulated on their behalf.

A PA commission of inquiry set up following Banat’s death is continuing its work, and a spokesman for the security services, Talal Doikat, announced that the commission of inquiry will complete its work as soon as possible and the results will be published upon completion of the investigation.

Doikat said that he is committed to the results of the investigation and will take the necessary steps, but officials in Ramallah estimated in talks with TPS that these will be directed mainly at low-level security officials.

Serious incidents occurred during the violent demonstrations over the weekend, during which dozens were injured. Molotov cocktails were thrown at a PA police building in Bethlehem.

Most of the attention was focused on the attack on a number of Palestinian journalists, including the journalist Rihana Odeh, a protest activist from Sheikh Jarrah and a released prisoner, and the journalist Najla Zeitun. Pedia Barghouti, who was a candidate on Hamas’ list for election, was also injured during clashes with PA security forces.

Following violence against them, residents of Ramallah claim that the PA is operating “Shibaha” groups, gangs of thugs following orders from the government. Some of these thugs were photographed by the protesters and their photos were uploaded with their names to social networks and many are now demanding revenge on them and their families.

The allegations that the PA is operating these gangs are reminiscent of publications against the Assad regime that used violent gangs during the suppression of the uprising in Syria.

The UN Human Rights Council issued a statement Sunday saying it was shocked by the behaviour of Palestinian security forces in Ramallah over the weekend.

“Staff present witnessed the use of brutal force against protesters as well as harming journalists and human rights organizations,” it stated.

The protests over the weekend called for the overthrow of Abbas’ regime and for elections, announcing that the confrontation between them and the government would be “prolonged and open.” The organizations call for a general strike in the PA on Monday and urged the PA factions to participate in the protests and take action to get rid of the corrupt officials in the PA.

“We call on the forces and factions not to stand idly by and take action in the open confrontation against the regime that is stealing power from the Palestinians,” protesters called.

Hamas is trying to take advantage of the events as much as possible and supporters of the movement and social media activists have distributed dozens of videos and photos from the demonstrations. The Palestinian Authority is now making allegations against Hamas and the Fatah factions of Muhammad Dahlan and Marwan Barghouti as being behind the demonstrations with the aim of shaking up the stability of Abbas’ rule.

Over the weekend, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya called Banat’s family and comforted his wife and promised to follow up on the incident and ensure that the culprits in Banat’s death stand trial and bear the consequences.

Dmitry Daliani, a spokesman for the Dahlan Fatah faction, told TPS over the weekend that “Abu Mazen’s illusion is likely to explode in your face because under his failed rule, a very significant unrest is emerging in the Palestinian street” and in a press release Daliani said “the Palestinian Authority’s mechanisms are coordinated with Israel to harm Abu Mazen’s opponents.”

In Hebron, Hamas members claimed that Banat had been captured in IDF-controlled territory.

During the weekend demonstrations, the extremist Islamic “Tahrir” movement stood out, with dozens of its members participating in protest demonstrations after Banat’s funeral in Hebron.

Protest activists and Hamas supporters are now blaming Banat’s death on Fatah, and pictures of Fatah operatives loyal to Abu Mazen and suspected of firing on Banat’s house have been circulated on social media.

Fatah officials said over the weekend that events had proved more than ever that the younger generation in Fatah, which disobeyed Palestinian Authority guidelines and showed loyalty mainly to marginalized factions, such as Barghouti’s faction and Dahlan’s faction, was gradually becoming a strong and threatening element to the old guard in the Palestinian Authority.

Following the demonstrations that concern the PA leadership, the Fatah organization took to the streets over the weekend and organized a series of demonstrations in support of Abu Mazen and the Palestinian Authority.

Fatah pledged to “strike with an iron fist anyone who allowed himself to insult the members of the security establishment.

Recent events have also swept clans into the Hebron area, mainly a strong force that opposes the Palestinian Authority. While a number of clan leaders demonstrated in the Hebron area against the Palestinian Authority, shouting in front of Al Jazeera cameras that they intended to avenge Banat’s blood from Jibril al-Bakri, governor of Hebron, other clans took to the streets to express support for the Palestinian Authority.

In Jerusalem, too, conflicting messages were circulated on behalf of so-called clan leaders and large families. In one statement, Jerusalem families called to ban Fatah activity in the east of the city, as it is a “terrorist movement,” while in another statement, which is also attributed to the clans, they called for support for the Palestinian Authority.

Fatah officials in eastern Jerusalem denied the allegations, saying they are fabricated statements on behalf of Hamas that is working to deepen its grip on Jerusalem.

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