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The PA security services bring shame and humiliation to the people of occupied Palestine

Israeli security forces stand guard before settlers entering the H1 sector of Hebron, controlled by the Palestinian authority in the occupied West Bank on October 16, 2019 [HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images]
Israeli security forces stand guard before settlers entering the H1 sector of Hebron, controlled by the Palestinian authority in the occupied West Bank on October 16, 2019 [HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images]

Unsurprisingly, Palestinian Authority security forces safeguarded two Israeli settlers who entered Ramallah a few days ago. As has happened before, the incident passed largely unnoticed until the PA officers had to protect the settlers from the anger of Palestinian youths at Al-Manara roundabout, and return them safely to the Israeli army, which was threatening the city with a major escalation if the settlers were harmed.

This was not the first such incident. On earlier occasions, we witnessed the discipline of the PA security forces as they returned Israelis who had strayed onto the streets of the West Bank in areas under PA control. As such, this latest incident seemed almost normal, with any other response regarded as madness; the PA could not simply ignore the settlers and leave them to their fate at the hands of angry Palestinians. The PA could, of course, have gone completely mad by keeping the settlers and offer them in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel; even just one prisoner.

Such madness is neither comprehensible nor expected of the PA, even among those who praised and celebrated the heroic act of the young men who burned the settlers' car in the centre of Ramallah, without care that they would be pursued by the PA and occupation security forces, who will not let their action go unpunished. While many political jokes were made on social media regarding the PA's response, nobody made a serious demand or asked why the authority didn't keep "the spoils" which had walked deep into a nominally PA-controlled area.

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Such a proposal, while deemed insane in the West Bank areas governed by the PA, is normal procedure in Gaza, where the PA is notably absent. Indeed, it has happened several times, despite the price to be paid in terms of lives and property every time an Israeli occupation soldier is captured in Gaza. As a result, the occupation authorities think very carefully before launching any military offensive inside the besieged territory. They are very conscious that, for example, in November 2018 Al-Qassam Brigade soldiers in Khan Yunis thwarted an armed incursion by Israel's Sayeret Matkal special reconnaissance unit, killing one officer and wounding others. The Hamas military wing lost seven of its soldiers, including Commander Noor Baraka, may God have mercy on their souls.

The point is that the collective consciousness has been programmed to anticipate high-level action in areas that are not controlled by the PA, and to expect low-level responses in areas under PA control. Keeping the settlers in Ramallah was never likely to have been an option considered by the PA security forces. Handing them over seemed to be the wisest action to spare the West Bank the consequences of Israeli anger, as seen when three settlers were captured north of Hebron in 2014, or when two Israeli soldiers were killed in the same place in Ramallah at the beginning of the Aqsa Intifada in 2000.

The Second Intifada broke out on 28 September, 2000 – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Praise for the burning of the settlers' empty car illustrates the extent of the humiliation that PA policies have produced, and the shame of its actions in which it excels in protecting the enemy. The PA honours settlers and humiliates Palestinians in its inability to defend them from Israeli aggression; it pursues those who take a stand and carry out legitimate patriotic resistance against the Israeli occupation. Even those who have just been released from Israeli prisons are not spared. Their "welcome home" convoys are attacked in order to prevent celebrations of their release.

Is the PA bothered by the people chanting for the "guests" in the streets of Ramallah, while the flames were devouring the settlers' car? This chant not only preserved Palestinian dignity for which people are prepared to pay with their blood and lives, but was also an insult to those bringing disgrace and humiliation upon us, even as they carry guns and go through the motions and rituals of fake sovereignty. The hearts and minds of the Palestinian people no longer pay any attention to those who humiliate them, nor ask them for any acts of kindness, for the simple reason that they have no credibility left.

This article first appeared in Arabic in the Palestinian Information Centre on 6 December 2021

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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