[[ Jerusalem Times : Opinion ]]

This Week In Palestine 9/10/2005

By Hanna Siniora


Fateh in Turmoil , Execution of General Moussa Arafat


Despite all the precautions and warnings, the ongoing disengagement from Gaza, and even before the expected departure of the Israeli military, the settling of scores began by the execution of General Moussa Arafat, security advisor to President Abbas at the hand of Gaza Popular Resistance Committee Salah Eddin Brigade as distinct from its sister organization in Rafah which denied its involvement.


Moussa Arafat house was surrounded by about a hundred masked heavily armed personnel using twenty vehicles a short distance from the home of President Abbas and the head quarters of the Preventive Security Forces (400 yards). After firing, at dawn of Wednesday, September 7, on the home of General Arafat, the invading force went into the building while facing sporadic counter fire, took Moussa Arafat in his pajamas outside his home, executed him by firing 23 bullets in his body and dragged him in the street.


What is suspicious, is that while the battle was ongoing and the noise of the bullets being heard in the area, the Palestinian security forces did not show up until the party that killed Arafat withdrew, taking with them as hostage the elder son of the General, Manhal Arafat a high-ranked officer of Military Intelligence that  his father previously headed.


Hamas denied any involvement in the execution of Moussa Arafat, despite that in the past the General arrested several members of the leadership, treated them disrespectfully by shaving their heads like ordinary criminals.


The group that carried the execution is known to be part of the armed militants from the Fateh movement and based in Gaza city. The lack of intervention by the Preventive Security forces, despite the loud noise of the battle next to their headquarters raises suspicions that what took place could have been coordinated with their leadership. It is well known that Rashid Abu Shbak is the commander of the force, which previously was headed by Mohamed Dahlan.


Another lead but not confirmed could be the forces under the command of the PA minister of Interior General Nasser Youssef, who was threatened by Moussa Arafat that he will be assassinated if he dared to step into Gaza from the West Bank. This threat was reported in the media when President Abbas relieved General Arafat from the overall command of all security and police forces, and as conciliatory step appointed Arafat as his advisor on security.


The execution is a blow to the image of the PA and certainly to the authority of the President. It indicates beyond doubt the volatile security situation in the Gaza strip and the lack of control by the PA. It also indicates that if the authority cannot enforce law and order among the militants of the Fateh movement, then how can it enforce it over the militants of other organizations.


Another assumption, which is the worse accusation towards the Authority, is that if some of its leadership is involved in the execution, then this clearly signals that the PA violates the basic rules it is supposed to uphold and protect, and literally it means that law and order and the rule of law is nonexistent in the Gaza Strip.


Twenty two armed militias outside the control of the PA exists in Gaza, and act as a loose cannon that might undermine the efforts of the PA to take charge in Gaza and subsequently the West Bank.


The Closure of Gaza


The IDF without consulting the appropriate authority in the PA closed the Rafah passage way for six months, and prevented any person from traveling to Egypt until arrangement can be made by mid-week next week. This unilateral action demonstrates that Gaza will continue to be under occupation as the IDF can at any moment close the whole crossings. The Wolfensohn team is aware of the damage that such unilateral action does to the economy of Gaza. James Wolfensohn referred to Egyptian head of intelligence Omar Suleiman as the only person that eventually will broker an agreement with Israel.


Court orders Synagogues removal


The complete withdrawal of Israeli troops will most probably be delayed up to next Tuesday and not next Monday as announced. That means the Gaza strip will be under closure, for the duration of the evacuations of troops. Every day of closure, causes heavy damage to the economy as well as to freedom of movement. The Israeli Supreme Court dismissed all suits filed to prevent the dismantling of synagogues in Gush Katif and only the objections of the minister of defense Mofaz to the destruction of the synagogues stands in the way of ending the chapter of occupation in Gaza.