By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank
Under the manifestly false rubric of “restoring law and order,” hundreds of American-trained Palestinian troops have been rounding up Islamic political activists and suspected Hamas sympathizers in the Hebron region.
The operation, code-named “Ishraqato Watan” or “sunrise of the motherland” began three days ago after the Israeli occupation army allowed the 558 troops to move from Jericho to the Hebron area.
The operation is being carried out under the command of Gen. Thiyab al Ali, aka Abu al Fath, who bears the official title of “General Commander of Palestinian National forces.”
This is the same man who in mid September participated in a much publicized meeting with Israeli army commanders at the Jewish colony of Beit El near Ramallah.
During that notorious meeting, Abu al Fath reportedly told his Israeli colleagues that “we are not enemies, we’re friends, and we have one common enemy, and that is Hamas.”
In their daily briefings to reporters, Palestinian security officials claim the operation, which they’ve described as a “complete success,” is targeting lawless elements such as car thieves and fugitives.
However, it is amply clear that confronting lawlessness is a secondary goal and that the real goal behind this operation is persecuting and harassing Fatah’s political opponents, particularly Hamas supporters.
It is not yet known how many political activists have been rounded up since the start of the operation three days ago.
However, local sources in the two small towns of el-Sammou’ and Yatta speak of 150 detainees, including teachers, students, and intellectuals.
The PA calls these detainees “fugitives” and claims they are wanted for their alleged criminal activities. However, it has been established beyond any doubt that none of these political detainees had been asked to turn himself in to the security authorities.
Indeed, had they been summoned, they would have handed themselves over to the security authorities in nearby Hebron, without all the fanfare of this operation.
In other words, the operation seems to be designed first and foremost to intimidate and persecute Islamic political opponents ostensibly to satisfy Israel and obtain another certificate of good conduct from the Bush Administration.
Last week, a well-informed Israeli journalist wrote in Ha’aretz that “we give them the lists, and they do the rest.”
It is not certain though if the lists carried by the PA officers supervising raids against Palestinian homes and businesses in the Hebron area were issued by the Israeli intelligence, the Shin Bet.
After all, the Israeli army, which maintains overall security control in the two targeted towns, could have arrested all the detained individuals in one night.
The fact that it hasn’t shows that the operation is meant as a show of force intended to persecute and harass Hamas supporters and their families.
There is no doubt that the PA, by agreeing to be at Israel’s beck and call by persecuting and terrorizing innocent Palestinian citizens on Israel's behalf, is effectively morphing itself into a quisling entity, very much like the Judenrate (Jewish Councils) in Nazi-occupied Europe.
Well, what else can be said of Palestinian nationals (or nationalists as they mendaciously claim to be) who raid Palestinian homes in the quiet hours before dawn to torment and arrest innocent people in order to appease Israel and the United States?
What else can be said of political officials and security chiefs who equate dignified political leaders and intellectuals, who have spent the prime of their lives in Israeli dungeons and concentration camps, with petty criminals and car thieves for the purpose of confusing the masses and covering up the ugliness of their treachery and national apostasy?
Well, I want to assure these so-called officers who are now storming innocent people’s homes and terrorizing sleeping women and children that Israel will not treat you any better than it does her numerous collaborators no matter how hard you persecute Hamas and other Palestinians who continue to say “No” to evil Zionism.
Another point. The PA claims to be sincere about ending the national rift between Fatah and Hamas.
Well, if actions speak louder than words, the PA is lying to the Palestinians and the Arab-Muslim masses around the world.
After all, arresting and persecuting political opponents and their families in order to please and appease Israel is not exactly the right prescription for restoring national unity.
Finally, a word to the American and European governments. Shame on you for enabling these ignoramuses to persecute and humiliate our people.
We once thought you were sincere about democracy and the rule of law and justice. Now, in light of your misdeeds in Palestine, especially helping the PA violate our dignity and basic human rights, you have proven yourselves to be hypocrites, liars and even criminals.
You are indeed enablers and abettors of tyranny, fascism and terror in our part of the world.