[News] Palestinian Authority proves to be good student of Israeli repression

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jun 22 11:18:17 EDT 2018


  Palestinian Authority proves to be good student of Israeli repression

Annelies Verbeek 
<https://electronicintifada.net/people/annelies-verbeek> - 21 June 2018


The tension was palpable in Ramallah’s city center as numerous 
Palestinian security forces gathered around al-Manara Square on the 
evening of 13 June. Wearing helmets and carrying batons, they peered 
through the square, waiting for the first person to raise their voice.

On the second of three days of protests, Palestinians gathered in 
Ramallah – a city in the occupied West Bank – to demand 
the Palestinian Authority 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/palestinian-authority> lift 
sanctions it imposed on the Gaza Strip.

The protests were the first clear expression of solidarity with Gaza in 
Ramallah since the beginning of the Great March of Return 

As PA security officials waited for the 13 June protest to begin, 
women’s voices rose up chanting, “with our blood, with our souls, we 
will sacrifice for you Gaza.”

It only took seconds for the militarized forces to shoot stun grenades 
into the crowd, chase protesters and beat them with full force.

It became clear that there were many security forces in plain clothing 
present as young men were violently dragged away.

    A man is dragged away by what appear to be plain clothed Palestinian
    security forces, during protests in Ramallah
    pic.twitter.com/7DLwL5V0e4 <https://t.co/7DLwL5V0e4>

    — Joe (@joedyke) June 13, 2018

“We have seen violence from the PA before, especially during peaceful 
protests,” Dalia Nassar, a protester at the scene, told The Electronic 

“But to this extent, no. This is violence like never before.”

Some of the security forces present wore caps bearing the emblems of 
Fatah, the dominant party in the PA.

“We are used to the men in uniform,” said Wafa Abdel Rahman, founder of 
women’s rights group Filastiniyat. “But these gangs, they were new.”

Abdel Rahman noted that the men in caps were harassing women and girls. 
Some of the men in caps were heard shouting “bitch” at women and telling 
them to go home.

In at least one case, a woman was sexually abused 
before being rescued by acquaintances.

“I thought that they would still have some respect for women and girls, 
being Arabs. But I saw undercover forces beating up women the age of 
their mothers,” Abdel Rahman said.

    Punitive measures

The protest had been organized under the banner “lift the sanctions,” 
and came as a response to the Palestinian Authority’s recent salary cuts 
of public employees in Gaza.

“First, they cut benefits, like transportation, health insurance, child 
support,” Hussein, a Gaza resident who was reached by phone, stated.

In April 2017, the Palestinian Authority cut 
<https://electronicintifada.net/content/wage-massacre-gaza/20526> the 
wages of public employees by 30 percent in Gaza.

“People had to live on 70 percent of their salaries for 10 months,” said 
Hussein (not his real name). “Then they cut 50 percent more. Then the 
salaries stopped for two months, then they kept paying the 50 percent.”

“But most of the money goes to banks because many people here have loans.”

Hussein asked for his real name not to be used, as he is waiting for an 
exit permit for medical treatment. He fears the Palestinian Authority – 
which processes such permits for Gaza residents – would not allow him to 

    Tug of war

Since Hamas expelled Fatah forces and took power of the interior of Gaza 
in 2007, the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority has been trying to 
force Hamas out of power through imposing various sanctions on the 
strip, political analyst Mouin Rabbani 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/mouin-rabbani> told The Electronic 

The PA has “believed that a combination of Israeli military pressure 
against Hamas and punishment of the population of Gaza would lead to 
Hamas’ voluntary departure from government, or a popular rebellion 
against them,” Rabbani added.

Rabbani explained that as this strategy has not worked, Abbas and his 
associates are increasing pressure. In doing so, they do not shy away 
from appealing directly to the Israeli occupation authorities.

Last year, the PA asked Israel to cut Gaza’s electricity supply 

“We have come to see a disgraceful situation in which the 
self-proclaimed Palestinian leadership is openly soliciting for 
collective punishment from the occupation against its own people,” 
Rabbani stated.

The battle between the two parties is one for political power, stated 
Wafa Abdel Rahman moments before protests commenced on 13 June.

“Abbas and Hamas are both taking the Gaza people hostage,” she explained 
to The Electronic Intifada. “Abbas wants Gazans to rebel against Hamas, 
but they have done it before. They were attacked and killed. You are 
asking them to commit suicide.”

Abdel Rahman added, “nobody is answering the essential question: If 
Hamas is gone, what is the alternative?”

Rabbani expressed a similar sentiment, stating that while Abbas is 
attempting to oust Hamas, he is not showing a willingness to take 
responsibility over the Gaza Strip himself.

“The PA talks about the Gaza Strip as a foreign country to which it is 
providing aid, and about those who receive the salaries as if they are 
somehow recipients of a donor project, rather than their own people,” he 

Diana Buttu <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/diana-buttu>, a former 
negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organization, said that Abbas is 
seeking to punish the people of Gaza for voting for Hamas.

“The scary part is that the actual security services were willing to 
follow his orders,” Buttu told The Electronic Intifada.

Buttu emphasized that the Palestinian Authority seemed to have learned 
well from Israeli repression techniques.

“I watched the events via Facebook live feeds, and it was very 
reminiscent of what the Israelis did to solidarity protests in Haifa,” 
she said.

Buttu was referring to Israeli police’s violent suppression 
of a Palestinian protest in Haifa, a city in Israel, on 18 May. The 
protest had been called against Israel’s massacre of unarmed civilians 
in Gaza.

“From wearing riot gear when there is no riot, to stun grenades, to 
approaching it from a standpoint that this needs to be shut down, rather 
than allowing people to express themselves,” Buttu said. “They [the PA’s 
forces] have proven to very good students.”

/Annelies Verbeek is a Belgian journalist based in Ramallah./

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