Palestinian Authority abducts resistance strugglers in Nablus: Rising confrontation challenges security coordination

Image: Quds News

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, 20 September, Palestinian Authority “security” forces — working in line with the policy of “security coordination” with the Israeli occupation – abducted two Palestinian strugglers, both labeled as “wanted” by the occupation forces, Musab Shtayyeh and Amid Tabileh, in occupied Nablus. As the Palestinian people rose up to confront these attacks, the same PA “security” forces shot dead Firas Fares Yaish, 53. Now, Musab Shtayyeh has been transferred to the PA’s infamous Jericho Prison (where numerous political detainees and resistance fighters targeted by security coordination have been and currently are held), passing through occupation checkpoints and indicating that Shtayyeh’s detention has clearly been coordinated by the occupation. In response, Shtayyeh has already launched an open hunger strike.

The arrest of Shtayyeh (a former prisoner of the Israeli occupation) and Tabileh and the killing of Yaish has sparked tremendous outrage among Palestinians, who have taken to the streets against the PA and its policies of security coordination — essentially, collaboration with the Zionist occupation. Palestinian Authority security forces receive various forms of funding and training from the United States, the European Union and Canada precisely because of their role in suppressing and undermining Palestinian resistance in the interests of the occupation. The Palestinian resistance organizations throughout occupied Palestine and in diaspora have demanded the immediate release of Shtayyeh and Tabileh. The national and Islamic forces in Jenin announced a general strike on Wednesday to bring an end to the PA’s collaboration with the Zionist regime, and resistance mobilizations and grassroots actions stretched from Qalandiya camp to Gaza to Silwad to Tulkarem.

Shtayyeh’s family issued a statement holding the PA security forces fully accountable for his life and safety, making it clear that the PA forces set up an ambush to seize him near Al-Rawda College and firmly rejecting any insinuations that his family had handed him over or allowed the PA to arrest him as some sort of “protection” from the occupation. (The PA has previously made this claim about its political detainees in the past, including Zakaria Zubaidi and PFLP General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat and his comrades in the early 2000s). Shtayyeh’s family further told Palestinian media that he had been beaten upon his arrest.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network joins the broad call of Palestinian parties, resistance organizations and grassroots movements in mourning for Firas Yaish and in demanding the immediate release of Shtayyeh and Tabileh and a complete end to “security coordination” with the occupation, which is a stab in the back of the Palestinian resistance movement. The policy of “security coordination” is part and parcel of the nature of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which was established through the Oslo Accords in order to serve as a mechanism to repress the Palestinian struggle on behalf of the Israeli occupation and its imperialist backers.

The Palestinian Authority is based on the institutionalization of collaboration and normalization with the occupier and the replacement of Palestinian popular and resistance institutions with the agencies of the Authority. National unity is necessary for a national liberation movement, but it must and can only be achieved through the unity of forces engaged in resisting the occupation, not in collaborating with it. The persecution of Palestinian strugglers is the very reason for the existence of the “Authority,” in order to dismantle and weaken the Palestinian cause rather than to sustain and support the Palestinian people and their resistance. We demand the immediate release of all the Palestinian political detainees who continue to be jailed by the Authority, which operates hand in hand as a subordinate force to the systemic Zionist incarceration and targeting of the Palestinian resistance and the Palestinian prisoners’ movement.

Further, this attack comes as Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas prepares to address the United Nations General Assembly in the coming days, sending a clear message that, for the PA, the path of Oslo, capitulation and criminalization of the resistance is the one it wishes to pursue. As the resistance has clearly become stronger throughout the occupied West Bank and throughout Palestine, the PA’s response is clear: criminalization and repression on behalf of the occupier. This is a message to the imperialist powers and backers of the PA that rather than turning toward unity with resistance forces, the PA is committed to its role as a collaborator with the Israeli occupation regime.

This is not an isolated incident. It follows upon the imprisonment by the PA of Basil al-Araj and his comrades; Al-Araj was later assassinated by the occupation as he fought back until the last moment. Even though the PA originally claimed to be “protecting” Al-Araj and his comrades — even as they launched a hunger strike for their release — it pursued criminal charges against them which continued even after Al-Araj’s assassination.

Palestinian activist and struggler against corruption Nizar Banat was assassinated by Palestinian Authority security forces on 24 June 2021 as they invaded his home in al-Khalil. Banat was a tireless advocate of the Palestinian and Arab resistance who was targeted by PA security forces after demanding the PA’s accountability for its ongoing collaboration with the Israeli occupation.

Palestinian liberated prisoner Omar Nayef Zayed, who escaped from occupation prisons in 1990 and made his way to Bulgaria, where he lived for 22 years. The Israeli occupation sought to extradite him from Bulgaria in 2016 and he took refuge in the Palestinian Authority’s embassy, where rather than being given security, he was repeatedly subjected to pressure about his situation. On 26 February 2016, he was suddenly found dead outside the embassy, having plunged to the ground from a great height.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat and his comrades Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, Majdi Rimawi, Hamdi Qur’an and Basil al-Asmar, along with longtime Fateh struggler Fuad Shobaki, were imprisoned by the PA in Jericho prison — where they were held under foreign guard that included U.S., British, Canadian and Turkish forces — from 2002 until 2006, when occupation forces invaded Jericho prison and abducted all of them. Today, all six remain political prisoners of the Israeli occupation, a crime in which the PA was and remains fully complicit.

The situation in Nablus and beyond continues to develop on an ongoing and moment-by-moment basis. For months, the families of political detainees have been taking to the streets to expose the escalated repression by the PA and the “revolving door” policy of imprisonment by the PA and the Israeli occupation. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network reiterates the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority for the lives and safety of Shtayyeh and Tabileh, and that these crimes have taken place in full collaboration with the Israeli occupation. Freeing all of the Palestinian political prisoners in Palestinian Authority jails is part and parcel of the demand to liberate all Palestinian political prisoners in Zionist, imperialist and reactionary jails — on the road to the liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea.