After cease-fire in Gaza, IDF says it arrests senior Hamas + Islamic Jihad people in the West Bank

After last night’s cease-fire in Gaza, the IDF says it has now arrested — “in cooperation with the ISA [Israel Security Agency], Israel Police and the Israel Border Police” — some 55 people said to be affiliated Hamas + Islamic Jihad, from the north to the south of the West Bank.

According to the IDF announcement, they include “a number of senior level operatives” — but the IDF published no names.

The official IDF explanation is: it will “to restore calm”.  In the past eight days, there has been unrest and protest demonstrations around the West Bank against the IDF Operation Pillar of Clouds against Gaza, and at least 62 protesters against Operation Pillar of Clouds were detained by the IDF during the operation in Gaza.

However, almost none of these protests are organized by Hamas or Islamic Jihad, who take a quite low-key profile in the West Bank. Nor is it Hamas or Islamic Jihad who send young men out to throw stones whenever they see jeeps of Israeli soldiers in the West Bank.

Hamas officials have regularly been arrested ever since their electoral victory in 2006 Legislative Council elections. Islamic Jihad activities were “prohibited” in the occupied Palestinian territory by a decree of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on 6 October 2010.

Until last night, most of the West Bank unrest has been due to protests led by a combination of the popular committees and the younger anti-Oslo Accords, anti-PA, anti-Abbas protesters who came together last year in support of Egypt’s Tahrir Square revolution. One of their main platforms is the call for a revival of, and world-wide Palestinian elections to, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Palestine National Council [PNC]. .

Hamas is not yet a member of the PLO, despite an agreement in Cairo in 2005 that this would happen.

What prevented Hamas’ joining the PLO was a tough position by Fateh “unity” negotiators against Hamas getting an allocated percentage of seats in the PNC proportional to the more-than-60% seats it won in the local Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006 elections. The Fateh negotiators were firm that Hamas did not deserve more than 20-25% of the seats in the PNC, which the Fateh negotiators insisted was the true strength of Hamas.

Those who were arrested this week, until last night, were the younger more secular crowd.

Addameer, a prisoners support group based in Ramallah, Tweeted this: @Addameer_ps – There has been a spike in arrests across the West Bank since the Occupation attacked #Gaza last week.

Dalia Hatuqa wrote a piece, entitled “West Bank seethes in anger over Gaza attack”, published yesterday on the Al-Jazeera website here. In it, she says that “tensions spawned by the attacks are quickly rising in the West Bank. Anger on the street is palpable with a widespread sense of outrage apparent, not only towards Israel but at the Palestinian Authority (PA) as well. Palestinians here are angry at the lacklustre response by the PA’s leadership to the Gaza attacks specifically, and its acquiescence to Israel’s demands in general. Protests against the Gaza onslaught in recent days have turned violent in Ramallah, Hebron and Jenin with clashes around Israeli checkpoints. Israeli soldiers shot two Palestinian men in separate incidents in Nabi Saleh village and in Hebron. Both died on Monday … Sometimes-violent protests have broken out throughout the West Bank as a result of a stalemate in political talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Another factor is hard economic times, with the Palestinian Authority desperately short of cash and often unable to pay civil servant salaries. Many of the previous protests were met with an iron fist by security forces, with beatings and detentions“.

These are not Hamas protests, and this is not Hamas’ style. Hamas did participate, for the first time in a long time, in a sedate demonstration against the Gaza attacks that converged on Ramallah’s central Manara Square after Friday prayers last week. There was a report that Mahmoud Abbas had specifically instructed the Palestinian security forces to allow this visible Hamas presence. One participant in that march, from Fateh, said that 80% of the crowd and of the flags flown were Hamas.

Abbas said at a joint press conference with UNSG BAN Ki-Moon on Wednesday that he had been in touch with all Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, since the outbreak of Operation Pillar of Clouds [which ended with the cease-fire announcement yesterday]. Abbas had earlier said he was consulting with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal.

Dalia Hatuqa also wrote: “one of the president’s Fatah allies, Marwan Barghouti – currently in an Israeli prison serving a life-sentence for murder – has called on Abbas to head to Gaza immediately to demonstrate ‘steadfastness and resistance’. Abbas has not entered Gaza since the people there voted for Hamas over Fatah in a 2007 election. Since then, separate political systems have effectively been in place, with Western-backed Fatah governing the West Bank and Hamas overseeing Gaza”.

The IDF, incidentally, now refers to the West Bank as “Judea and Samaria” — and has done so for a couple of years.  This was a change from previous practice, and has ideological implications about the status of the territory.

Here is the list of last night’s detentions, as sent by the IDF:

In Arrba, southwest of Jenin, 3 suspects were detained.

In Qabatiya, southeast of Jenin, 3 suspects were detained.

In ‘Anin, northwest of Jenin, one suspect was detained.

In Deir Sharaf, northwest of Nablus, one suspect was detained.

In Awarta, south of Nablus, 2 suspects were detained.

In Nablus 3 suspects were detained.

In Ni’lin, southwest of Ramallah, one suspect was detained.

In Deir Qaddis, northwest of Ramallah, one suspect was detained.

In Qibya, northwest of Ramallah, one suspect was detained.

In Qalqilya one suspect was detained. During the detention, rocks were hurled at security forces.

In Bir Zeit, north of Ramallah, 2 suspects were detained.

In Ras Karkar, northwest of Ramallah, 5 suspects were detained. IDF soldiers uncovered a hunting rifle in a home of one of the suspects. The weapon was confiscated and handed over to sappers.

In Beituniya, southwest of Ramallah, 2 suspects were detained.

In Beit Liqya, west of Ramallah, 3 suspects were detained.

In Beit Ummar, southwest of Bethlehem, one suspect was detained.

In Harmala, south of Bethlehem, 2 suspects were detained.

In Teqoa, southeast of Bethlehem, 5 suspects were detained.

In Abu Dis, northeast of Bethlehem, 2 suspects were detained.

In Hebron, 13 suspects were detained.

In Dura, southwest of Hebron, one suspect was detained.

In At-Tabaqa, southwest of Hebron, one suspect was detained.

In Adh Dhahiriya, southwest of Hebron, one suspect was detained.

The IDF announcement also says that “This action was made possible due to the extensive intelligence and operational capabilities in Judea and Samaria.   The IDF will continue to operate to maintain order in the area and to prevent the infiltration of terrorists into Israeli communities”…

Meanwhile, as people in Gaza celebrated, people in Israel were frustrated with the cease-fire announcement — they wanted the Israeli Defense Forces to go into Gaza in a new ground operation and “clean the place out”, so that there would be no renewed rocket fire into Israel.

This photo was Tweeted by @Elizrael
Photo: IDF soldiers spell with their bodies: “Bibi is a loser” following the disappointing cease-fire

IDF soldiers protest the end of Operation Pillars of Clouds

Photo: IDF soldiers spell with their bodies: “Bibi is a loser” following the disappointing cease-fire

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