Hamas mobilizing students against Palestinian Authority

Hamas is taking advantage of the sharp rise in violence and the deterioration of public order to incite against PA head Mahmoud Abbas’ rule.

By Baruch Yedid/TPS

In recent weeks, internal violence in the Palestinian Authority has intensified, with officials in Ramallah saying that the PA is “losing control.”

PA and Fatah officials, and human rights organizations are reporting a sharp rise in murders and criminal-related property offenses, student brawls, and acts of revenge due to blood feuds between clans.

Fatah activists and PA officials say that the broad protest against the PA following the cancellation of the elections in May and the death of social activist Nizar Banat during a PA police interrogation paralyzed the PA.

Hamas, on the other hand, is taking advantage of the sharp rise in violence and the deterioration of public order to incite against PA head Mahmoud Abbas’ rule and blame him for the instability, also as revenge for the PA’s arrests of students from the Islamic Bloc affiliated with Hamas.

A Fatah operative said that the organization is also to blame for what is known as “al-Platan al-Amni,” the security deterioration, since its senior officials are holding an “arms race” to secure themselves and prepare for the day after Abbas. Fatah says that in the refugee camps in Shechem (Nablus) and Jenin, there are armed groups that are loyal to Muhammad Dahlan who oppose Abbas.

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The most worrying phenomenon for the Palestinian Authority and also elements in Israel is the violence that is currently focused on campuses and universities, where the power of the “Kitla Islamia,” Hamas’ student body, is very strong. The universities, which were the main focal points of terrorism in the second intifada, have emerged in recent weeks as a significant focal point of opposition to the Palestinian Authority.

Fatah sources told TPS that the very serious incidents of violence recently uncovered at a number of Palestinian universities may indicate that Hamas is behind at least some of the incidents and is encouraging its “Islamic Bloc” student body to raise its head against Abbas’ rule.

The murder of a student at the Arab-American University in Jenin on Saturday during a confrontation between people from neighboring villages is the latest notable incident in a long series of shooting and violence incidents at universities. His family is now demanding blood revenge from the six students who were complicit in the murder, and following the incident, residents of the village of Jaba’a, where the murdered student lived, closed the main roads and confronted PA officials who have been working against riots in the Jenin area for several days.

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Previously, it was at Bir Zeit University where there was a severe brawl between groups of students, which led the board of trustees to close the university. The brawl began following a claim by one of the student leaders that he had been attacked by three Fatah activists.

The Palestinian Authority recently allowed students to work at the university and they held an evening honoring the family of Muntasar Shalabi, the terrorist who murdered Yehuda Guetta in May, and organized parades in which Hamas flags were hoisted.

Now the students in Bir Zeit are coming out against the Palestinian Authority and saying that they will not continue to absorb the repression from what they call the “two occupations,” Israel and the PA.

Violent skirmishes also took place at al-Quds University in Abu Dis, near Jerusalem, accompanied by shootings between students, who protested the allocating of parking on behalf of the university administration, and arrived on scene armed to disperse those parking in the compound. This university was also closed, and before that, the University of Hebron was closed due to severe violence between students.