Reports reveal PA security forces carried out numerous terror attacks on Israelis

The most recent known attack by a PA security officer was last week when he opened fire at Israel Defense Forces troops near Nablus.

By Andrew Tobin, The Washington Free Beacon

Officially, the Palestinian Authority works with Israel to crack down on terror groups in the West Bank. But off-duty PA security forces have carried out dozens of attacks on Israelis, according to a watchdog group.

An investigation by Palestinian Media Watch, the nonprofit watchdog based in Jerusalem, documented at least 55 attacks by PA security forces against Israeli soldiers or civilians since 2020, including four in the past month alone. In each case, the PA or its ruling Fatah party has eulogized the attacker as one of their own “soldiers.”

The findings reveal the extent to which the PA, the internationally recognized Palestinian government in Ramallah, encourages and rewards terrorism against Israel—even in its own ranks. For Israel, such activity proves the folly of the Biden administration’s demand that a “revitalized” PA be allowed to govern Gaza following Israel’s war against Hamas, the rival Palestinian faction that rules the territory.

Itamar Marcus, the director of Palestinian Media Watch, on Monday sent a copy of the report, “Terrorists in Uniform: A Study of PA Security Forces Involvement in Terror,” to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“The American suggestion to empower these terror forces to rule Gaza after Israel has destroyed the terror infrastructure is inconceivable,” Marcus told the Washington Free Beacon. “The PA and its security forces are a fundamental part of the problem; it is absurd to believe they can be part of the solution.”

Going further than the Israeli government, Marcus called on the Biden administration to reverse its reinstatement of $45 million a year in funding to the PA security services. He noted that the United States last month froze donations to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency following revelations that staff took part in the Oct. 7 attack.

“This is far worse than UNRWA, where at least the leadership claimed they didn’t know,” Marcus said. “The PA is saying, ‘We know, and we’re happy about it. And that’s what makes us heroic.’”

The State Department declined to directly comment on the Palestinian Media Watch report but said in a statement to the Free Beacon: “We remain committed to working with the PA and Palestinian civil society on the critical work needed to advance reforms such that the PA can most effectively deliver for the Palestinian people. This includes reinforcing commitments to non-violence and countering terrorism.”

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The White House, which imposed sanctions on four Israelis this month for alleged involvement in violent attacks in the West Bank, did not respond to a request for comment.

In the most recent known attack by a PA security officer on Israelis, 1st Lt. al Mansour Billah Jalal al-Jabbar of the PA’s Palestinian National Security Forces opened fire at Israel Defense Forces troops last week at a checkpoint near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, the IDF confirmed to the Free Beacon. Al Jabbar’s rank in the PA security forces was reported by Palestinian media.

(Via Palestinian Media Watch)

Last month, al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Fatah’s military wing and an internationally designated terror group, published a poster honoring five Palestinians who were killed amid a spike in violence in the West Bank since Oct. 7. The poster highlighted that two of the men were captains in the PA security forces.

One, Capt. Ahmed Abdullah Abu Shalal of the General Intelligence Service, was a terrorist leader in Nablus’s Balata camp, the IDF said at the time. He was killed in an Israeli airstrike following intelligence about “his cell’s intentions of carrying out an imminent terrorist attack,” according to the IDF. Abu Shalal was responsible for two recent attacks, the IDF said: an April shooting in East Jerusalem that wounded two Israeli civilians and a November bomb attack on IDF troops that injured one soldier.

(Via Palestinian Media Watch)

Two days earlier, the PA held a military funeral for another of its intelligence officers, Lt. Col. Fares Mahmoud Khalifa of the Preventative Security Force, according to Palestinian media. The IDF said Khalifa was shot dead after opening fire on IDF troops at a checkpoint near Tulkarem in the northern West Bank. Khalifa previously did three stints in Israeli prison totaling more than 15 years, with the latest for shooting at civilians, the Israel Prison Service told the Free Beacon.

“Both the PA and Fatah not only admit this terror role, but regularly and proudly publicize explicit proof of it,” Marcus wrote in the Palestinian Media Watch report.

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In July, Muhammad Sbeihat, the head of the PA’s National Association of the Families of the Martyrs of Palestine, told WAFA that the security forces “have sacrificed hundreds of martyrs from their best members” in attacks on Israel over the years.

A host on Fatah-run Adwah TV said in May: “More than two-thirds of the martyrs in the West Bank over the last year and a half belong to the Fatah movement and the PA. … More than 355 of our Palestinian people’s prisoners inside [Israeli] prisons are from the Palestinian Security Forces—in other words, the PA’s soldiers.”

A spokeswoman for the Israeli government declined to comment on the scale of the threat posed by PA security forces. A Prison Service spokeswoman said the agency does not collect data on inmates’ affiliation with the PA.

An IDF spokesman said attempted “terrorist attacks” in the West Bank have increased significantly since Oct. 7, to more than 700. Most were thwarted. The IDF declined to comment about attacks by PA forces. But in an off-the-record briefing, a security official said the IDF is training for “every possible scenario so that nothing will surprise us.”

Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, a former director general of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, said the PA Security Forces contribute little to Israel’s counterterrorism efforts but also pose a relatively minor threat. The larger problem, he said, is the PA’s promotion of violence against Israel via education and financial rewards for terrorists. He noted that the PA’s “pay for slay” program has carveouts for members of the Security Forces, guaranteeing them their usual salary if imprisoned and paying their family according to their rank if they are killed.

“Members of the Security Forces who carried out terror attacks are seen as having performed their part in fighting for the demise of the Zionist entity,” Kuperwasser told the Free Beacon. “So they should be rewarded, and they are rewarded from the budget of the Security Forces.”

Fatah in August published a poster featuring 30 “Martyrs of the Palestinian Security Forces.” Palestinian Media Watch found that 23 of the listed PA security officers died after carrying out attacks on Israelis. One of the men, Daoud al-Khatib, a colonel in the PA’s General Intelligence Services, served 18 years in Israeli prison for planting an explosive device and national security crimes, according to the Prison Service.

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Al Khatib died of a heart attack in prison in 2020 and was given a military funeral, according to the Palestinian General Intelligence Service website, which remembered him as “captured martyr” and an “example of discipline, commitment, good morals, and good relations with all his colleagues.”

(Via Palestinian Media Watch)

In June, Fatah promoted a video honoring 24 members of the PA security forces who “fell in battle” against IDF forces. The video identified the men both by their PA rank and as “commanders and fighters of the al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.” Palestinian Media Watch determined that in all but a few cases, the PA forces were killed during attacks on IDF troops in the West Bank, several of which resulted killed or injured soldiers.

Security Forces Capt. Hamdi Shaker Abu Dayyeh last January shot at an Israeli civilian bus near the southern West Bank city Hebron two days before he shot at an IDF patrol and was killed, the IDF said at the time. He left behind a lengthy handwritten “message to the Zionist enemy” in which he threatened to “plant disasters in your homes” and inflict “death and humiliation” so that “Allah’s word will rule this land,” Palestinian media reported.

PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh lamented Abu Dayyeh’s “death as a martyr” and condemned “the incessant acts of murder and execution against our people,” the official PA daily Al-Hayat al-Jadida reported.

Shtayyeh’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

In a video posted to Fatah’s official Facebook page in May 2022, four members of PA security forces were celebrated as “heroic prisoners” and “martyrs” for their attacks on Israeli soldiers. The video also included Fathi Hazem, the father of a terrorist who killed three Israeli civilians in a 2022 shooting in Tel Aviv. Hazem is suspected of providing his son with the weapon used in the attack, the IDF said.

“By day, security forces,” text on the screen read, “and by night, self-sacrificing fighters.”