Palestinian Authority losing control of Samaria as ‘Hamas presses the gas’

In a March survey, 84% of Palestinians said they wanted Abbas to resign.

By Baruch Yedid, TPS

The Palestinian Authority is losing control in northern Samaria as Hamas intensifies its efforts to boost its influence in the area’s towns and refugee camps.

“The Palestinian Authority and Fatah are losing control over the cities and villages in northern Judea and Samaria, while Hamas is pressing the gas and recruiting young people to its ranks,” a senior official in the Palestinian Authority told The Press Service of Israel, following Israel’s counterterror raid in the Jenin refugee camp on Tuesday.

The “Kittivot,” Palestinian battalions primarily composed of gunmen associated with Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Fatah-aligned Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade operate in the refugee camps of Jenin, Shechem (Nablus), and in the city of Tulkarm, where they find no shortage of young recruits.

“A lot of weapons come mainly from the Jordanian border,” the PA source told TPS-IL.

The Palestinian Authority is further weakened by financial mismanagement and internal dissent within the ruling Fatah party.

“Only 30% of the salaries of the officials and security personnel have been paid in the last month and a half, and for several months now, the salaries have reached only 50%,” the PA source told TPS-IL.

An internal Fatah survey found a great deal of disappointment with the Central Committee and President Mahmoud Abbas’s inner circle. Rival personalities such as imprisoned terror commander Marwan Barghouti and the exiled Mohammed Dahlan are more popular.

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The findings are in line with Palestinian public opinion polls which find overwhelming dissatisfaction with Abbas. In a March survey, 84% said they wanted Abbas to resign.

Palestinians have not held national elections since 2005 and Abbas is now in the 19th year of what was supposed to be a four-year term. Since then, Abbas has canceled several attempted elections amid Fatah-Hamas disagreements, most recently in 2021.

Since October 7, about 4,000 Palestinian terror suspects have been arrested in Judea and Samaria, of whom around 1,700 are associated with Hamas.

In July 2023, Israel carried out a major operation in Jenin, including in Jenin refugee camp, which Palestinians have dubbed “the Martyr’s Capital.” Inside the camp, the IDF uncovered laboratories for producing bombs, a rocket launcher, tunnel shafts and other weapons.

After the raid, the PA was expected to fill the power vacuum in the lawless camp but struggled to do so.