Gaza reacts to Israeli West Bank onslaught and PA complicity

Tareq S. Hajjaj

Mondoweiss  /  March 8, 2023

Leaders from the resistance factions in Gaza vow that the West Bank will not be left alone in facing the ongoing Israeli onslaught, while many in Gaza view the Palestinian Authority as complicit.

The continuing wave of Israeli bloodletting in the West Bank — from the invasion of Nablus in late February that killed 12 Palestinians and injured 102, to the Huwwara pogrom that killed a Palestinian and destroyed 75 homes, to yesterday’s twin raids on Nablus and Jenin that killed another 6 Palestinians and injured dozens more — has left people in Gaza watching on in horror. As they follow the images of repression and revolt coming out of the West Bank and receive news from their relatives working in Israel about the wave of Jewish settler terror, a sense of powerlessness begins to take hold, coupled with the desire to act in solidarity with their people.

Protests take on many forms. The mosque speakers call for a day of mourning. Resistance factions fire a few volleys of rockets toward Israel. Groups of Gaza youth set tires on fire across the border with Israel. General strikes lead to the closure of schools, government institutions, and commercial life, as it did in the wake of the attack on Nablus. People hold massive rallies in the streets to show support for Nablus and Jenin, reflecting their anger at the siege on their people even as they continue to suffer under a 16-year blockade.

Some of the Israeli aggression has even spilled back onto Gaza, albeit in limited fashion, as Israeli airstrikes have targeted several locations affiliated with the resistance factions in the western part of Gaza. It served as a grim reminder that Palestinians are in a constant state of war. Then again, many have never forgotten. 

‘When you attack Nablus, Gaza responds’

On the Friday after the Huwwara pogrom, Hamas called for a protest after Friday prayers. Throngs of people gather in Jabaliya refugee camp, raising Palestinian flags, green Hamas flags, and posters supporting the resistance in Palestine, accompanied by photos of the West Bank martyrs.

“Palestinians should not fear their enemies, they have to face them,” Ghassan Madi, a protester in Jabaliya refugee camp, told Mondoweiss. “We’re standing here to tell this feeble occupier: you will not separate Palestinians.” 

“When you attack Nablus, Gaza responds. Your borders, your walls, your crossings — even your soldiers — are all useless,” he continued.

A number of Hamas leaders also participate in the protest, giving speeches before the crowds.

Suheil al-Hindi, a member of Hamas’s political bureau, said that the West Bank will not be alone in its fight against the occupation. 

“The hands of the resistance in the 1948 occupied territories, in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and in Gaza will all be united soon in facing our occupier,” he said. 

He called upon all Palestinians to protect Palestinian existence and identity and to face the settler terror of recent weeks. 

Hindi moved on to warn that the continuation of this policy and the assault on holy sites in Jerusalem would create the conditions for a full-scale war against Israel. 

“Our fighters are standing by, and our message to the occupier is that we will defend our holy lands and our people with our souls,” he warned. “It’s our land and our sky. The occupier owns nothing in Palestine.” 

His warnings then ended with a threat. “Those who threaten to wipe out Huwwara in the West Bank will be the ones who are wiped out. This is a promise from the Gaza resistance,” he said. 

Hamas spokesperson Mosher al-Masri told Mondoweiss that the Israeli crimes against Palestinians in the West Bank will not ever provide Israel with security, as the resistance in Gaza and the West Bank will not hesitate to seek revenge. 

“The resistance in the West Bank forms a shield for Palestinians and will protect them, unlike the Israeli fascist government, which will not be able to protect its settlers who attack unarmed Palestinians,” he said.

Al-Masri concluded by asserting that Palestinian resistance will remain the primary way of shielding Palestinians from further reprisal. “These attacks indicate that the area faces more escalation, but at the same time, the Palestinian resistance continues to expand because it is the only way for Palestinians to rein in these attacks,” he said. 

Gaza’s reaction to PA complicity

On February 27, a meeting between American, Israeli, Jordanian, Egyptian, and Palestinian Authority (PA) officials took place in Aqaba, Jordan, in a special security meeting meant to quell the rising tensions following the Nablus raid. On the exact same day of the Aqaba Summit, the Huwwara operation that killed two settlers took place, followed by the settler rampage throughout the Palestinian town. The meeting was roundly condemned by the Palestinian factions in Gaza, denouncing the participation of the PA in the meeting at a time when settlers and soldiers were carrying out a pogrom against Palestinians. 

The factions in Gaza commented that the meeting also served to give settlers the green light to continue attacking and killing Palestinians. Hindi stated that the meeting sent a clear message that the PA is serving the occupation and targeting the resistance.

“We warn of a plan to train 5000 new PA security personnel as part of the effort to reorder the city of Nablus and form a joint security room between the US, Israel, and the PA,” he said. “This will impact the PA badly in the West Bank, as the goals of the trained PA forces are to target the resistance groups in Nablus and Jenin.”  

On the ground in Gaza, many believe that the role of the PA in the West Bank is to protect the settlers, not their own people. Based on several interviews conducted by Mondoweiss in the Jabaliya refugee camp during the rally on March 3, the dominant view is that Israel makes the PA security forces fight Palestinians in order to avoid harm to its own soldiers.

“If I were in the West Bank and affiliated to the PA, I would use my gun against my occupier, not against our resistance,” one Jabaliya protestor said. 

“The PA should protect our resistance and support the fighters, but unfortunately, they target them and jail them on behalf of the Israelis,” he added.

Tareq S. Hajjaj is the Mondoweiss Gaza Correspondent, and a member of Palestinian Writers Union