March 6, 2004.
Members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist group affiliated with Yasser
Arafat’s Fatah movement are running daily life in some Palestinian Territories
cities, according to a Palestinian human rights activist.
The Brigades are controlling cities such as Tulkarem and Nablus in the West
Bank with gang-style intimidation tactics, said Basem ‘Eid, founder and director
of the East Jerusalem-based Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group and
former deputy director of the Israeli human rights group B’tselem, according to
the Middle East Media Research Institute.
“In Tulkarem, the Al-Aqsa Brigades direct and manage the city’s civil and
security life,” he said in an article in the Israeli daily Haaretz. “They threaten,
beat and kill.”
On Oct. 23, for example, 12 unemployed gunmen who joined the Al-Aqsa
Brigades killed Muhammad Hilal, 22, and Samer Ofeh, 23, in the street because
they were “collaborators,” ‘Eid noted.
The town of Nablus is “ruled by two armed illiterate thugs,” he said.
“These two people are feared by the population and control the civil life
of the city,” said ‘Eid. “This is an example of an unacceptable situation where a
city is governed by ignorant people who are experts only in spreading fear
The mayor of Nablus recently resigned after an assassination attempt on his life
resulted in his brother’s death, MEMRI noted.
The Palestinian Authority’s emergency government has completely disregarded
the security and safety issues of the Palestinian people, asserted ‘Eid.
“They have neglected security issues and ignored the political, social and
economic issues,” he said. “The explosion that targeted the American convoy in
Gaza on October 15 was a red light to the Palestinian people to reconstruct the
security system. Who can reconstruct it now, and who can control the thugs
that violate the security system?”
‘Eid urged the Palestinians to ask for help from the governments of Egypt,
Jordan and possibly Turkey, to help restore order.
“It is no embarrassment for the Palestinians to admit they have lost
hope,” he said. “The Palestinians seek security and comfort just like any other
people.” He points to Arafat’s stripping of power from the PA interior minister
as a source of the problem. The government of new Prime Minister Ahmad
Qurei’, unable to separate civil from security issues, “became ineffectual and
lost its credibility among the general public,” ‘Eid said.
He contended stripping the interior minister of his powers caused the downfall
of the government of Mahmoud Abbas “and is leading to the obliteration” of the
Qurei’ government as well.
“It is obvious to the whole world that both the Palestinian people and the
Palestinian government have been unable to control the security issues in the
Palestinian territories,” he said. “The Palestinian Authority needs a Ministry of
Interior with clear missions and functions.”
Gunmen are threatening and spreading fear among the Palestinians, said ‘Eid.
Last Oct. 22, Ghaleb al-Faroukh, 46, a Palestinian civilian, was killed by
two Palestinian gunmen in Hebron while on his way to shop. The next day,
Majid Zein, 46, another Palestinian civilian, also was killed by three gunmen in
the same area, and on Oct. 28, another Palestinian civilian, Fakhri el-Masri, was
gunned down and killed by two Palestinians in Salfit near Nablus.
“The question is: What Palestinian interior minister would dare punish those
responsible?” he said. “Would the Palestinian interior minister be killed if he
imposed a penalty upon them?”