Analysis / PA: Israeli provocation is cause of worsened security situation
Palestinian officials spoke yesterday with bitterness about the deterioration of the security situation, which they view as the result of futile Israel provocations.
Palestinian cabinet member Saeb Erekat said that "while we are focusing efforts on promoting the peace process, the Israelis are busy with assassinations and arrests." Cabinet member Rasan al-Hatib said that since Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, daily conditions in Gaza and the West Bank have worsened.
The officials point to a series of steps they are taking on the security and political levels, for which no cooperation on Israel's part has been forthcoming. They said Palestinian security forces arrested in Bethlehem five of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Brigade militants, suspected of being involved in the Gush Etzion junction terror attack 10 days ago, and transferred them to Jericho for detention. They added that the Palestinian security forces are more organized now than in the past.
On the political level, the coordination and monitoring committee of Fatah and Islamic Jihad met in Gaza yesterday, while a committee of Fatah and Hamas representatives met to prepare a joint covenant. The Palestinian press also has reported in recent days the possibility of a meeting of various factions in Cairo. At last year's convention, the groups decided on a period of calm in attacks against Israel.
Palestinian leaders said that Israel's policy of targeted killings and mass arrests in the West Bank is giving Islamic Jihad and others excuses for retaliating and is sabotaging Palestinian Authority attempts to restore law and order in the territories.
"The atmosphere of rage and the incendiary rhetoric of the associates of Luay Sa'adi and Majed al-Ashkar, who were assassinated in Tul Karm this week, can only cause a further deterioration," senior Palestinians said.
In one of the Jihad announcements, in which the group said that "the killing of Sa'adi killed the calm," the organization claimed it had launched 25 Al Quds rockets at Sderot and other targets near the Gaza border on Monday. "This is only the beginning of our response," Jihad leaders in Gaza and Damascus said.