Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas waged an unprecedented attack on Wednesday against ousted Fatah member Mohammed Dahlan, accusing him of assassinating several key Palestinian figures, including the late President Yasser Arafat.
Official Palestinian TV broadcast a recorded speech by Abbas to the Fatah Revolutionary Council meeting in Ramallah, in which he claimed that an investigation conducted by Azzam Al-Ahmad, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, “revealed that Dahlan gave orders to murder six Palestinian figures: Mohammed Abu Shaaban, Asaad Saftawi, Hisham Makki, Khalil Ezzabin, Naim Abu Saif and Khalid Mahmood Shehdah”.
The Palestinian president added that: “the real question now is who killed Yasser Arafat? Although this is not direct proof, it is evidence that deserves to be investigated. Who delivered the poison to kill Yasser Arafat?”
Abbas devoted more than half of his two-hour-long speech to talk about Dahlan, who was believed to be Abbas’s rival before the Fatah movement dismissed him. He accused Dahlan of organising public demonstrations against Arafat, saying that he only apologised later on to cover up for his possible involvement in the late president’s assassination.
Dahlan, who fled in 2011 to the United Arab Emirates where he currently resides, was unavailable to comment on the accusations.
Following Abbas’s remarks, the Hamas-led government in Gaza called for the Palestinians to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the president’s accusations against Dahlan, including his involvement in the assassination of Sheikh Salah Shehadeh, the co-founder of the military wing of the Islamic Resistance movement Hamas 12 years ago.
Abbas also accused Dahlan of assassinating Sheikh Shehadeh on 22 July 2002, when the Israeli air force bombed his house in the Daraj neighbourhood of Gaza City with a ton of explosives, killing him, his wife, daughter and escort Zaher Nassar, as well as ten neighbours, and wounding dozens while a large number of houses in the area were destroyed.
The media adviser to the Palestinian prime minister in Gaza, Taher Al-Nono, issued a statement published by Quds Press insisting that a national investigation into the Palestinian Authority’s security services, including those officials who have been involved in security coordination with Israel, has to be conducted to prosecute anybody involved in committing crimes against the Palestinian people. Al-Nono pointed out that President Abbas’s accusations against Dahlan regarding his involvement in the assassination of Shehadeh are serious, adding that their timing is also dangerous.
Al-Nono explained that: “If the accusations are true, and they are more likely to be true, then what forced Abbas to remain silent all this time? Abbas commissioned Dahlan back then for senior leadership posts and ministerial positions, where he served as Minister of Security Affairs and was a top security official under Abbas’s presidency. Why did Abbas give him these positions while he was fully aware of his betrayals and subservience to Israel?”
He continued: “Did Abbas remember this information suddenly after all these years have passed to announce it to the public only now? How can we be sure that Abbas did not know Dahlan or any other security coordination leaders were involved in the killing of Palestinian leaders?”