Palestinian National Authority - Crime and Law Enforcement - Violence Against Officials (2001–2004)

Violence Against Officials (2001–2004)

On 22 April 2001 Jaweed al-Ghussein, former Chairman of the Palestine National Fund, was abducted from Abu Dhabi, UAE flown to Arish, Egypt, driven across the border to Gaza where he was held hostage by the Palestinian Authority. The Minister of Justice Freh Abu Mediane protested and resigned over the illegality. Haider Abdel Shafi Chief Delegate in the Madrid Peace Process and leading Palestinian protested at his incaceration and demanded his immediate release. The PCCR (Palestinian Commission on Citizens Rights) took the case up. The Attorney General Sorani declared there was no legality. The Red Cross was denied access to him. Amnesty International asked for his release. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determined he was being held 'manifestly with no legal justification' and appointed a Special Rapporteur on torture.

On 15 October 2003, three members of a United States diplomatic convoy were killed and additional members of the convoy wounded three kilometers south of the Erez Crossing into the Gaza Strip by a terrorist bomb. The perpetrators remain at large.

In February 2004 Ghassan Shaqawa (the mayor of Nablus) filed his resignation from office in protest of the Palestinian Authority's lack of action against the armed militias rampaging the city and the multiple attempts by some Palestinians to assassinate him. Gaza's police Chief, General Saib al-Ajez would later say: 'This internal conflict between police and militants cannot happen. It is forbidden. We are a single nation and many people know each other and it is not easy to kill someone who is bearing a weapon to defend his nation."

In 2004, a number of attacks on journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were blamed on the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, most clearly the attack on the Arab television station Al-Arabiya's West Bank offices by masked men self-identifying as members of the Brigades. Palestinian journalists in Gaza called a general strike on 9 February to protest this rising violence against journalists.

Karen Abu Zayd, deputy commissioner general for the UN Relief and Works Agency in the Gaza Strip stated on 29 February 2004: "What has begun to be more visible is the beginning of the breakdown of law and order, all the groups have their own militias, and they are very organized. It's factions trying to exercise their powers."

Ghazi al-Jabali, the Gaza Strip Chief of Police, since 1994 has been the target of repeated attacks by Palestinians. In March 2004, his offices were targeted by gunfire. In April 2004, a bomb was detonated destroying the front of his house. In 17 July 2004, he was kidnapped at the at gunpoint following an ambush of his convoy and wounding of two bodyguards. He was released several hours later. Less than six hours later, Colonel Khaled Abu Aloula, director of military coordination in the southern part of Gaza was abducted.

On 17 July eve, Fatah movement members kidnapped 5 French citizens (3 men and 2 women) and held hostage in Red Crescent Society building in Khan Yunis:

Palestinian security officials said that the kidnapping was carried out by the Abu al-Rish Brigades, accused of being linked to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction.

On 18 July, Arafat replaced Ghazi al-Jabali, with his nephew Moussa Arafat, sparking violent riots in Rafah and Khan Yunis in which members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades burned PA offices and opened fire on Palestinian policemen. During the riots at least one Palestinian was killed and dozen more seriously wounded.

On 20 July 2004 David Satterfield, the second-in-charge at the United States Department of State Near East desk stated in hearing before the Senate that the Palestinian Authority has failed to arrest the Palestinian terrorists who murdered three members of an American diplomatic convoy traveling in the Gaza Strip on 15 October 2003. Satterfield states:

There has been no satisfactory resolution of this case. We can only conclude that there has been a political decision taken by the chairman (Yasser Arafat) to block further progress in this investigation.

On 21 July, Nabil Amar, former Minister of Information and a cabinet member and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was shot by masked gunmen, after an interview to a TV channel in which he criticized Yasser Arafat and called for reforms in the PA.

Regarding the descent into chaos Cabinet minister Qadura Fares stated on 21 July 2004:

Every one of us is responsible. Arafat is the most responsible for the failure. President Arafat failed and the Palestinian government failed, the Palestinian political factions failed.

On 22 July 2004, The United Nations elevated its threat warning level for the Gaza Strip to "Phase Four" (one less than the maximum "Phase Five") and plans to evacuate non-essential foreign staff from the Gaza Strip.

The firing of Qassam rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel is strongly opposed by those living closest to the firing location due to frequent Israeli military responses to Qassam rocket launches. On 23 July 2004, an Arab boy was shot and killed by Palestinian terrorists of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades after he and his family physically opposed their attempt to set up a Qassam rocket launcher outside the family's house. Five other individuals were wounded in the incident.

On 25 July 2004, 20 members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades seized the governor's office in the Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis. Among their demands were that Yasser Arafat's cousin, Moussa Arafat be dismissed from his post as chief of general security in Gaza. In a separate attack, unidentified persons stormed a police station and burned the structure causing extensive damage.

On 31 July, Palestinian kidnappers in Nablus seized 3 foreign nationals, an American, British and Irish citizen. They were later released. Also, a PA security forces HQ building was burnt down in Jenin by the al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. A leader of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said they torched the building because new mayor Qadorrah Moussa, appointed by Arafat, had refused to pay salaries to Al Aqsa members or to cooperate with the group.

On 8 August 2004 the Justice Minister Nahed Arreyes resigned stating that he has been stripped of much of his authority over the legal system. The year before, Yasser Arafat created a rival agency to the Justice Ministry and was accused of continuing to control the judiciary and in particular the state prosecutors.

On 10 August 2004, a report by an investigation committee Palestinian Legislative Council for the reasons for the anarchy and chaos in the PA was published by Haaretz daily newspaper. The report put the main blame on Yasser Arafat and the PA's security forces, which "have failed to make a clear political decision to end it". The report states,

"The main reason for the failure of the Palestinian security forces and their lack of action in restoring law and order" ...
"is the total lack of a clear political decision and no definition of their roles, either for the long term or the short."

The report also calls to stop shooting Qassam rockets and mortar shells on Israeli settlements because of it hurts "Palestinian interests". Hakham Balawi said:

"... It is prohibited to launch rockets and to fire weapons from houses, and that is a supreme Palestinian interest that should not be violated because the result is barbaric retaliation by the occupying army and the citizenry cannot accept such shooting. Those who do it are a certain group that does not represent the people and nation, doing it without thinking about the general interest and public opinion in the world and in Israel. There is no vision or purpose to the missiles; the Palestinian interest is more important"

Despite the criticism against Yasser Arafat, the troubles continued. On 24 August, the Lieutenant Commander of the Palestinian General Intelligence in the Gaza Strip, Tareq Abu-Rajab, was shot by group of armed men. He was seriously injured.

On 31 August, the Jenin Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, threaten to kill Minister Nabil Shaath for participating in a conference in Italy attended by Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, declaring "He will be sentenced to death if he enters. The decision cannot be rescinded, we call upon his bodyguards to abandon his convoy in order to save their lives."

On 8 September, Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, threatens to resign, again. Three weeks have elapsed since he retracted is resignation, originally tendered six weeks ago.

On 12 October, Moussa Arafat, cousin of Yasser Arafat and a top security official in the Gaza Strip, survived a car bomb assassination attempt. Recently the Popular Resistance Committees threatened Moussa Arafat with retaliation for an alleged attempt to assassinate its leader, Mohammed Nashabat.

On 14 October, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei stated that the Palestinian Authority is unable to stop the spreading anarchy. While routinely blaming Israel for the PA's problems, he pointed out that the many PA security forces are hobbled by corruption and factional feuding. Due to the lack of governmentals reforms demanded by international peace mediators, Palestinian legislators demanded Qurei present a report on the matter by 20 October, at which point they will decide upon holding a no-confidence vote.

On 19 October, a group of Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades members, led by Zakaria Zubeidi, seized buildings belonging to the Palestinan Finance ministry and Palestinian parliament in Jenin.

According to Mosab Hassan Yousef, the CIA has provided sophisticated electronic eavesdropping equipment to the Palestinian Authority that has been used against suspected Palestinian militants. However, the equipment has also been used against Shin Bet informants.

Read more about this topic:  Palestinian National Authority, Crime and Law Enforcement

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