search
Analysis

Hamas says PA arrested over 1,000 of its members in 2014

Islamist terror group claims surge in Abbas-ordered ‘attacks’ on its activities in West Bank

Avi Issacharoff

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.

Palestinian demonstrators throw stones at Palestinian Authority security forces blocking the road to an Israeli checkpoint in the center of the West Bank town of Hebron on August 22, 2014, following a demonstration to show support for Hamas. (Photo credit: AFP/ Hazem Bader)
Palestinian demonstrators throw stones at Palestinian Authority security forces blocking the road to an Israeli checkpoint in the center of the West Bank town of Hebron on August 22, 2014, following a demonstration to show support for Hamas. (Photo credit: AFP/ Hazem Bader)

The Palestinian Authority arrested over 1,000 Hamas members in 2014, the terror group alleged in a report issued over the weekend, confirming claims that Ramallah is actively engaged in battling Islamists in the West Bank.

The report details the range of the Palestinian security services’ activities against Hamas, to the fury of the Islamist group.

In all, Hamas counted 2113 “attacks” against it, including 1,064 arrests and so-called kidnappings, 106 extensions of detentions, 636 summonses for investigations, and 307 miscellaneous attacks.

There was a drastic rise in actions against Hamas in December, the report stated, with 446 “attacks,” referring to miscellaneous actions like riot dispersal, closing down offices, extending detentions, arrests, “kidnappings,” and summonses for questioning.

The report underlined persistent tensions between the groups despite a unity deal signed last spring. In August, the Shin Bet announced that it had thwarted a Hamas plot to topple PA President Mahmoud Abbas, making dozens of arrests, and Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen was said to have met with Abbas to detail the effort.

While Abbas has repeatedly threatened to halt security cooperation with Israel, the Hamas report indicates that the cooperation is continuing thus far. Israeli critics of Abbas, including some in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, say the PA tackles Hamas for its own interests, not Israel’s.

The new report details PA activities against Hamas in every city in the West Bank. Most activity took took place in Hebron, which recorded 540 “attacks” in 2014, while Ramallah, the PA’s seat of government, saw 437. PA forces carried out 334 actions against Hamas in Nablus.

Hamas claims a rise in activity against its members after the establishment of the national unity government. Before the reconciliation in May, says Hamas, there were 423 kidnappings and arrests. In the seven ensuing months, the PA arrested 641 Hamas activists.

Palestinians hold Hamas flags and chant slogans during a celebration organized by Hamas in the West Bank city of Nablus, on Friday, August 29, 2014 (photo credit: AP/Nasser Ishtayeh)
Palestinians hold Hamas flags and chant slogans during a celebration organized by Hamas in the West Bank city of Nablus, on Friday, August 29, 2014 (photo credit: AP/Nasser Ishtayeh)

Hamas also claims there was a rise in all the measures compared to last year. In 2013, the PA arrested 782 Hamas members, meaning there was a 36% increase in 2014.

The figures do not include PA arrests of members of Islamic Jihad or other terror groups. Palestinian security sources told The Times of Israel that PA forces arrested dozens of suspects in 2014 on suspicion of belonging to the Islamic State, including many who had returned from the fighting in Syria. IS has not managed to create a recognized organizational structure in the West Bank, but there is concern in the PA that members of the various Salafist group and disillusioned Islamic Jihad and Hamas members will try to operate under the IS umbrella, the PA sources said.

In the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, there was a demonstration by around 200 Islamic State supporters after the publication of the recent Muhammad caricature by the Charlie Hebdo weekly earlier this month. On Saturday in the West Bank, thousands of Palestinians marched in protest against the latest cartoon. Answering calls by the Liberation Party, an Islamist group, demonstrators rallied in the cities of Ramallah and Hebron, some carrying banners expressing faith in Islam and others wearing black headbands calling for the establishment of a Muslim caliphate.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed