March 4, 2004 No.

Palestinian Human Rights Activist: The Al-Aqsa Brigades Run Daily Life in the Cities, Threatening, Beating, and Killing

In a recent article, 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, addressed the issue of the armed Palestinian gangs that terrorize the Palestinian populace in the PA territories on a daily basis. 'Eid set out proposals for restoring order, and suggested that the Palestinians ask for help from the governments of Egypt, Jordan, and possibly Turkey in ensuring security and protection for Palestinian citizens. The following are excerpts from the article: [1]

The PA Interior Minister was Stripped Of His Powers by Arafat; We Need External Forces to Keep Us Safe

"How do you change chaos into order? The Palestinians haven't succeeded. Under the powers handed over by Chairman Arafat [to the Palestinian Interior Ministry], the Ministry became responsible solely for civil issues and no longer for security…

" The Palestinian people need more security and this is becoming an encumbrance to the Palestinian government. The Palestinian people need external forces to keep them safe and secure…

" The government of Ahmad Qurei' (Abu Alaa), unable to separate civil from security issues, became ineffectual and lost its credibility among the general public. 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. The Palestinian Authority needs a Ministry of Interior with clear missions and functions.

" There is someone [in the post of] interior minister, [but he] has lost his function, mission, and jurisdiction. [Stripping the interior minister of his powers] caused the downfall of the government of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and is leading to the obliteration of Abu Alaa's [government] as well. What does this mean?…"

Would A Palestinian Interior Minister Be Killed If He Imposed Law and Order?

"We all know that … gunmen threaten and spread fear among the Palestinians. Last October 22, Ghaleb al-Faroukh, 46, a Palestinian civilian, was killed by two Palestinian gunmen, while he was on his way to Sa'ir in Hebron to shop. On the following day, Majid Zein, 46, another Palestinian civilian, was also killed by three gunmen in the same area, and on October 28, another Palestinian civilian called 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? Would the Palestinian interior minister be killed if he imposed a penalty upon them?

" In Tulkarem, the Al-Aqsa Brigades direct and manage the city's civil and security life. They threaten, beat, and kill. On October 23, 12 unemployed gunmen who joined the Al-Aqsa Brigades killed Muhammad Hilal, 22, and Samer Ofeh, 23, in the street because they were so-called collaborators."

'Nablus Is Ruled by Two Armed Illiterate Thugs'

" Nablus [2] is ruled by two armed illiterate thugs. These two people are feared by the population and control the civil life of the city. This is an example of an unacceptable situation where a city is governed by ignorant people who are experts only in spreading fear among civilians…

"The emergency government has completely disregarded the security and safety issues of the Palestinian people. They have neglected security issues and ignored the political, social, and economic issues. 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?"

We Should Call For Jordanian, Egyptian, and Perhaps Turkish Forces For Help In Our Internal Security

" It is no embarrassment for the Palestinians to admit they have lost hope. The Palestinians seek security and comfort just like any other people. [Since the Palestinians seek protection from international forces], I recommend that the Palestinian government call upon Jordan, Egypt and perhaps Turkey to send their security forces to assist … in restoring order in the Palestinian territories and ending attacks on Palestinian citizens."

[1] Haaretz (Israel), January 28, 2004.

[2] The Mayor of Nablus recently resigned after an assassination attempt on his life resulted in his brother's death.