By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank
In recent days, the American-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) carried out a shameful crackdown against non-conformist Palestinian intellectuals, journalists as well as civic and religious leaders all over the West Bank.
PA security agencies have also violently suppressed peaceful rallies by the pan-Islamic Liberation party commemorating the downfall of the Ottoman Caliphate. Eyewitnesses said undisciplined policemen beat participants using plastic truncheons.
In Beit Jala, PA men beat four camera men who were filming police cars. And in Hebron, a Reuter cameraman, Yosri al Jamal, was assaulted and his camera broken.
The latest acts of violence took place under the watchful eyes of the Israeli occupation army without whose consent the PA can hardly function.
In Nablus and neighboring towns and villages, US-trained security personnel raided private homes, municipal buildings and public institutions, elected mayors, public figures, college professors, student leaders and prominent religious figures.
One of the people arrested was Professor Abdul al Sattar Qassem, a well-known author and political activist.
A former presidential candidate, Qassem is not affiliated with Hamas or any other political organization, but his daring writings seem to have proven too unbearable for a self-proclaimed “national” authority that claims to represent Palestinian aspirations for freedom and liberation.
In Dura, near Hebron in the southern West Bank, PA security forces arrested Awadh Rajoub, the West Bank correspondent of the Arabic service of al-Jazeera.net after raiding and thoroughly searching his press office and confiscating his PC.
Rajoub is still being detained at the Preventive Security headquarters in Hebron where he has been interrogated in connection with a report he had written on the mistreatment of prisoners in PA jails and lockups.
Four other journalists have also been arrested by the PA police recently, including Muhammed Halayka and Alaa al Titi of Hebron, Ausayd Amareneh of Bethlehem and Mustafa Sabri of Qalqilya.
PA spokespeople claim that the arrests are carried out in accordance with the rule of law.
However, it is amply clear that such claims carry very little weight if only because the “rule of law” doesn’t really exist in a police state (without a state), whose very existence and survival depend almost completely on the extent to which this entity meets the needs, obey the instructions and serves the interests of the Israeli occupation.
These are conspicuous facts that every Palestinian man, woman and child is aware of. Hence, it would be foolhardy to try to hide the obvious from one of the most politicized people on earth.
Interestingly, the stepped-up clampdown on freedom of expression by the PA coincides with the ghoulish escalation of Israeli criminality and ethnic cleansing throughout the West Bank.
During the past few days, trigger-happy Israeli soldiers murdered in cold blood two Palestinian minors, including a 10-year-old boy who was taking part in a peaceful protest against Israeli schemes to grab more Palestinian land under the pretext of building the so-called “separation wall.” (the Israeli Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi this week admitted that the route of the wall was decided by political, rather than security considerations as Israeli officials have been claiming)
Similarly, Israel has been demolishing Arab homes, including a multi-story building in East Jerusalem as Nazi-like Jewish settlers are given a free rein to take over Arab property and terrorize and savage Palestinian children in the southern Hebron hills for the purpose of driving their families away form their homes.
So, as if Zionist ethnic cleansing were not enough, the PA is finding it necessary to complement Israeli criminality by arresting, humiliating and tormenting patriotic Palestinians for criticizing the Ramallah regime for compromising Palestinian national interests and for throwing itself squarely into the lap of the Bush administration which itself is at Israel’s beck and call.
It is really difficult to make any sense of what is happening except that the PA is effectively becoming another layer of the Israeli occupation.
Otherwise, one is prompted to ask what national purpose does this wave of repression of Palestinians by Palestinians serve?
Does it strengthen Palestinian steadfastness in the face of the Israeli occupation?
Does it enhance the Palestinian ability to liberate the usurped homeland from the criminal Zionist hands?
There is no doubt that in light of its shameful behavior against the Palestinian people, the PA has effectively become a serious liability undermining the enduring Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice.
Indeed, a situation where Palestinians have to keep guessing if their children will be abducted by “the (Palestinian) authority” or “the (Israeli occupation) authorities” is unbearable, to say the least.
It is a stigma of shame that a time has come when Palestinian homes have to be raided in the quiet hours before dawn by Palestinian policemen in order to arrest young Palestinians activists.
Today, the PA has proven itself a moral, political, economic and security disaster for the Palestinians and their enduring just cause.
The Palestinian people had been dreaming of a “free authority” that would heal their wounds, sooth their afflictions and strengthen their steadfastness in the face of the Nazis of our time.
They never dreamt of a ‘Judenrat’ of quislings and collaborators that would arrest, torment, torture and even murder Palestinians in order to receive a certificate of good conduct from the occupiers of our country and their guardian-allies in Washington.
Hence, it is paramount, for the sake of our future and the future of our children that this outrageous PA apparatus, where pseudo-nationalists, money-grabbing careerists, hangers-on, opportunists and probably foreign agents as well hold sway, be dismantled as soon as possible.
In fact, one can go as far as saying that the dissolution of the PA is now a sine qua non for a successful Palestinian struggle for freedom from diabolical Zionism.