Arabs took to social media and the streets to protest a trial currently taking place in Ramallah, against four terrorists residents of the Palestinian Authority, who are being held in Israel.
Starting on Sunday and carrying over into Monday, politicians and citizens mostly from Hamas and other terror groups, have come out against the killing of wanted terrorist Basil al-Araj by an Israeli SWAT team in Ramallah. The four Arab terrorists held in Israel are part of al-Araj’s terror cell, and their trial, held in close proximity to his killing, sparked outrage, protests and a public debate over the Palestinian Authority’s security cooperation with Israel.
The story begins a year ago, when PA intelligence agencies, in apparent cooperation with Israeli intelligence agencies, proceeded with a manhunt after members of a terror cell heavily suspected of an intent to carry out an attack on Israelis. Palestinian Authority forces eventually discovered them while in possession of assault weapons. They were then taken and held in one of the PA detention centers.
The terrorists’ arrest by the PA for planning an attack against Israel led to a public outcry and the terrorists going on a hunger strike, and shortly thereafter they were released. The PA did, however, stress that they will stand trial for possession of an illegal weapon.
Israel responded to the cell members’ release by the PA by arresting four out of its five members. The fifth member was al-Araj, who Israel later had eliminated while he was busy planning a terrorist attack. This, in turn, has led to the current Arab protests on Sunday and Monday.
Several hundred Arabs marched in the anti-government protests in Ramallah, calling for the resignation of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas and criticizing his security coordination efforts with Israel. Marchers also chanted that “security coordination is treason” and “No more demonstrations, only guns and rockets against Israel!” The policy, in which Abbas’ forces and Israeli troops cooperate against Muslim terrorists, is considered unpopular among Arabs. Palestinian Authority police reportedly dispersed the protesters by force, injuring journalists and, among others, al-Araj’s father.
The public backlash to the arrests and killing escalated quickly, with terror organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine threatening to boycott the local elections, schedules for May.The PA in turn accused external groups bent on disrupting the peace in the Palestinian Authority streets.
Abbas’s political rival and former Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan was quick to join the wave of protests. Dahlan called for the PA to stop all cooperation with Israel due to the Jerusalem’s becoming “more and more” Jewish and due to Jewish construction. Abbas’s other major rival, the Hamas party, also expressed support of the protestors and of stopping all cooperation with Israel.