Middle East Monitor / August 2, 2022
Palestinian Authority leader, Mahmoud Abbas, does not tolerate any political thought that is divergent from his brand of corruption. While the murder of Palestinian activist, Nizar Banat, last year by the PA’s security services was marked with prominence, the PA has persisted in persecuting Palestinian activists, university students and journalists, under the pretext of safety for Palestinian civilians. Abbas has, perhaps, conveniently wiped out the memory of Palestinians being beaten for protesting against his rule and the security services’ murder of Banat. The only safety Abbas wants concerns his rule. It could be said that possibly the PA is funded only to exist as a buffer zone between Palestinian civilians and Israel’s colonial expansion and violence, for Israel’s benefit, of course.
In 2021, Lawyers for Justice recorded more than 340 arrests made by the PA. Between May and November last year, more than 200 Palestinians were arrested, based upon their political opinions.
In June this year, Israeli media reported that 14 security services officers on trial for Banat’s murder have been released on bail, ostensibly due to the risk of a coronavirus spread in prison. The selective release, of course, fools nobody.
Releasing officers who are clearly a threat to Palestinian civilians is of no concern to the PA, but rather a necessity.
Last month, the PA security services embarked on another raid targeting Palestinian students, activists and journalists. According to Muhannad Karajeh from Lawyers for Justice, the latest PA raid which led to the arrest of 94 civilians was one of the biggest since 2012. Most Palestinians detained were affiliated to Palestinian political factions critical of the PA, notably Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. A majority were also former prisoners in Israeli jails, which is a reminder of how the PA and Israel often collaborate when it comes to detaining Palestinians. According to the spokesman for the Palestinian security services Talal Dweikat, Abbas’s orders were given based “on the importance of exerting all the pressure possible to address all manifestations of chaos and disorder in the Palestinian street.”
Combating protests with violence will only increase protests against Abbas’s rule. With Banat’s murder, the PA has shown exactly how far it will go to counter the most formidable threats to its illegitimate rule. The latter has been a subject of a recent protest by the Palestinian Bar Association, which is speaking out against Abbas’s ruling through decrees which the Palestinian Constitution only allows as a necessity.
And while Abbas may be more concerned about challenges posed by activists, society is increasingly revolting against the PA. Yesterday, the Palestinian Engineers Syndicate also staged a protest in front of the PA’s Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh’s headquarters demanding financial rights and the implementation of signed financial agreements.
With discontent rife among all sectors of Palestinian society, the meagre concessions Abbas managed to negotiate with Israeli Defence Minister, Benny Gantz, will provide no buffer zone for the conditions Abbas and Israel have created. While the arrests certainly depict the brute force of the PA’s security services, the increase in protests testifies to the fact that soon, possibly, Palestinians will unleash a united front against decades of PA donor-funded corruption.
Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger; her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America