Palestinian Authority security forces arrested up to 100 Hamas members during a series of raids in the West Bank over the past two weeks. The detentions mark only the latest setback in Fatah-Hamas relations following the adoption of an unity agreement last spring.
According to Middle East Monitor, many of the Palestinians arrested include “university professors, schools teachers, doctors, imams” with some previously spending time in Israeli jails. Additionally, the PA has failed to disclose a reason for the arrests or charged any Hamas members publicly.
File photo of Palestinian Authority Security Force (PASF) raiding a Palestinian home. (Photo: Middle East Monitor)
Hamas leaders call the detentions arbitrary and politically motivated, saying that the PA feels threatened by Hamas’s rising popularity in the West Bank. Meanwhile, other Hamas officials said that Fatah is “part of the occupation system and is only working to preserve [Israel’s] security.” However, it remains unclear if the crackdown is related to recent PLO deliberations to end security cooperation with Israel over Jerusalem’s withholding of tax revenues from the cash-strapped PA.
The rivalry between the parties has also spilled into Gaza, where Fatah accused the Hamas officials ruling the enclave of not ceding political power or security responsibilities to the PA. With Hamas still in control, international donors and Israeli officials have suspended most aid deliveries, except for some small UN projects. However, Jerusalem has allowed some food exports from the strip into Israel.
Under the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM), the UN, PA, and Israel agreed to funnel concrete and other building materials to PA administered projects in the territory. But, without PA officials working for local ministries, many steel reinforcing cables sit idle in warehouses and Israel refuses to deliver cement. Even the Arab league said the rift between the two parties is “behind the delay in reconstructing the Gaza Strip.”
As the feud continues, the Palestinian people, especially those living in Gaza, remain the most disadvantaged. Without a strong partner that believes in peace and value of compromise, the efforts of the international community in the Palestinian territories will remain stifled.