The brutality of normalization: Palestinian Authority “security” forces attack martyr’s funeral in Nablus

The Palestinian Authority’s ongoing policy of “security coordination” with the occupation was once again revealed and on full display on Wednesday, 8 March. PA forces fired stun grenades and tear gas at the funeral of the martyr Abdel-Fattah Kharousheh, resistance fighter and former Palestinian prisoner, assassinated yesterday with five of his comrades (Tariq Natour, Ziyad al-Zureini, Moatassem Sabbagh, Mohammed Ghazzawi and Mohammed Khallouf) by Israeli occupation forces in Jenin refugee camp.

The attack on Jenin was an assassination raid, a practice used repeatedly by the occupation — as, for example, in the cases of Basil al-Araj and Moataz Washaha — and escalated intensely in recent months. As Maureen Clare Murphy of the Electronic Intifada noted, “Israel appears to have used the ‘pressure cooker’ procedure during the raid, a form of extrajudicial execution by which occupation forces fire progressively more powerful weapons at a targeted building in an effort to force those inside to surrender. If they refuse to do so, the military demolishes the building, killing all those inside.”

The martyrs of the occupation attack on Jenin

While thousands of people filled the streets of Nablus to mourn the martyr, PA security forces’ attack caused Kharousheh’s body to fall to the ground, and dozens of Palestinians were injured by tear gas while the PA arrested multiple participants in the funeral for carrying flags of Hamas — Kharousheh’s political party — or advocating for Palestinian armed resistance.

Following the funeral, PA security forces have carried out a series of arrests in Nablus, targeting people for participating in the popular funeral. They have kidnapped Palestinians from all political forces, including Fateh members who participated in the funeral and chanted for the resistance, upholding Palestinian national unity. This reflects no national interest of the Palestinian people, but instead seeks to distort the Palestinian liberation struggle in the interests of the colonial occupier.

It is worth noting that Kharousheh not only spent 9 years in occupation prisons — including a three and one-half year sentence from which he was released less than three months ago — but also in Palestinian Authority prisons, where he wa detained on the grounds of his political affiliation and resistance activity. Kharousheh was the resistance fighter who targeted settlers in the village of Huwwara after the Nablus massacre, and the assassination raid by occupation forces yesterday in Nablus was aimed at his extrajudicial execution.

In this context, the attack on the funeral was even more egregious, as Kharousheh represented a martyr of the Palestinian resistance and a fighter who was targeted for violent assassination and liquidation by the occupation forces just yesterday alongside five of his comrades. It also recalled bitter memories of the attack carried out by occupation forces on the funeral of assassinated Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh.

Despite the suppression, the funeral procession continued, completing the funeral ceremonies and marching to the Balata refugee camp before burying Kharousheh in the cemetery of the Askar refugee camp.

The attack was met with widespread outrage from Palestinian people, political forces and resistance organizations.

Hamas said:

“The suppression of the funeral procession of the martyr Abdel-Fattah Kharousheh by the security services in Nablus is a new moral degradation that adds to its nefarious record of oppression and abuse of our people and their national symbols and a flagrant violation of our national and religious values. The atack on the mourners and the arrest of a number of them crossed all red lines and violated the will of our people and their national aspirations. This followed a day of heroic confrontation in Jenin and did not take into account the history of the resisting martyr, his record of imprisonment, confrontation and pursuit.”

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said:

“At a time when Palestine is bidding farewell to its martyrs, when Jenin and Nablus mourn the symbols of resistance and those who overthrew all attempts to liquidate or settle the Palestinian cause, the shameful forces attacked the participants in the funeral of the martyr Abdel-Fattah Kharousheh.” The Front called on all to participate in a rally in Dheisheh camp against the Zionist attack on Jenin yesterday and the assault on the funeral of the martyr today.

The Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine said:

“We condemn in the strongest terms this disgraceful behaviour that violates our authentic national traditions. We consider it a degradation of our moral and national values. This is rejected by the Palestinian people, whose free sons united in the Jenin camp and Nablus and embraced each other to confront the enemy.”

Khaled Barakat, Palestinian wrier and member of the Executive Committee of the Masar Badil, the Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path, said:

“The vicious attack on the funeral of the martyr Abdel-Fattah Kharousheh comes within the framework of the Authority’s role as a security tool that works in the service of U.S. imperialism and the Zionist project…These practices are an integral part of a U.S.-Zionist campaign to distort the image of the national liberation struggle…The Authority acts as an agent of the colonizer and reproduces its practices in order to gain acceptance and recognition, as was seen before in Algeria, Ireland, South Africa, India and everywhere that ‘local authorities’ were appointed by the colonizer to implement its policies against their people.”

The Palestinian Democratic Student Pole said:

“Today, the servants of the occupation bring down the body of the martyr Abdel-Fattah Kharousheh, thinking that they will overthrow his ideology, his path and his deeds. However, it is they who fell and not his thoughts or honor.”

The Follow-Up Committee of the National and Islamic Forces said:

“This attack contradicts the values and traditions of our people and their unity. It affects the sanctity of the martyrs of our people who give more than all of us, espeically in light of the Israeli fascist attack on our people,” demanding the formation of an independent investigation committee.

Further statements came from the Federation of Independent Personalities, the Palestinian National Initiative, the Palestinian People’s Party, Fateh Intifada, Abna’a al-Balad, the Popular Resistance Committees, the Al-Ahrar Movement, and the International Commission to Support the Rights of the Palestinian People, among others.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network denounces the attack on the funeral of the martyr Abdel-Fattah Kharousheh, intended as a continuation of the criminal assassination raid carried out by occupation forces one day before in Jenin camp. The attack once again reveals the nature of the Palestinian Authority, which is not a project serving the Palestinian people’s needs and interests, but a mechanism created by the Oslo so-called “peace process” to provide security for the colonizer.

When the occupation forces assassinated Kharousheh and his five comrades one day earlier, as they fought back until their last breath, PA security forces were nowhere to be found, as they had cleared out of the area. Meanwhile, local reports indicated that PA security forces had been stationed in large numbers around the area of the funeral in preparation for its repression.

This attack emerges not only from three decades of “security coordination” with the occupier and imprisonment of the resistance at the behest of the Israeli occupation and its funders in the U.S. It is the direct result of the Aqaba meeting just last week, intended to further militarize the PA against the Palestinian resistance at the same time that the fascist Israeli government is escalating its assassination raids, killings, mass incarceration, home demolitions, land confiscation, and settler pogroms while passing laws to strip Palestinian prisoners of their nationality and kill them behind bars. Despite the wide condemnation and revulsion of the Palestinian people toward the Aqaba meeting and normalization with fascists to suppress the resistance, the PA is implementing its policies.

This comes in advance of a follow-up meeting scheduled in Sharm al-Sheikh in the coming days in order to further sharpen the knife of PA and Arab reactionary regime normalization with the occupier against the Palestinian people and their growing resistance throughout occupied Palestine, particularly in the West Bank and behind prison bars.

It must be noted that this is not an aberration; instead, it reflects the purpose for which the PA security forces were created, not to provide security to the Palestinian people but to their colonizer. The PA is funded, trained and directed by the United States, which provides $4 billion annually in military aid to the Israeli occupation, the European Union, and other imperialist powers that provide constant support to colonialism at the expense of the Palestinian people.

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 Palestinian people and their resistance, including the Palestinian prisoners’ movement, inside Palestine and in exile and diaspora, are the representatives of the Palestinian people — not the so-called “Authority” that derives its power from an alliance with imperialism, Zionism and Arab reactionary regimes. 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, Palestine will be free!