When Lawlessness Gets the Upper Hand

(Ha'aretz) Amira Hass - * Soon after A. brought his nephews to the play center in Ramallah on Friday, an argument erupted between a mother and the owner. She called in a relative, a member of one of the Palestinian security organizations, who came and fired shots into the air from his pistol, in the closed space full of children. When armed police showed up, instead of stopping the shooting, they too opened fire. * About a kilometer to the north, passersby found themselves in the midst of exchanges of gunfire between armed men wearing civilian clothes. "Jews?" 5-year-old T. asked his mother. "No, they're ours, safeguarding our security," she replied. * In Jenin, armed men spirited a defendant, their friend, out of the courtroom during a trial. Others abducted an attorney from Nablus in broad daylight, as he was sitting in a restaurant in Ramallah. * All of the armed men are connected in one way or another to Fatah, the ruling political movement. They compete with one another as to who has the biggest weapon, break into PA offices, stop the work there and demand salaries and jobs, or warn that criminal proceedings must not be initiated against them for acts of killing and wounding or taking protection money. * Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Kidwa has declared that there will be no discussion of disarming the organizations. In so doing, he is kowtowing to those who are nurturing the myth of the armed struggle, which has been sanctified as an end rather than perceived as a means. The fact is that the Palestinians did not embark on a successful guerrilla struggle in the territories. * Al-Kidwa is sweeping a number of facts under the carpet: Among other things, it is the difficulty of disarming those who are connected to Fatah and its senior people that is making it hard for the PA to act to confiscate weapons from the opposition organizations. The Palestinian public and the opposition organizations will not condone energetic action by the Palestinian police only against the armed men of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, without there also being action taken against the armed men of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. Presumably, Al-Kidwa knows that confiscating arms from Fatah members is a necessary first condition for restoring public security.

2005-06-14 00:00:00

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