The Palestinian Authority’s duplicity clearly has no limits.
On April 17, it marked “Prisoners Day” by holding rallies throughout the West Bank in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
On the same day, a report published by Palestinians revealed that the Palestinian Authority has arrested hundreds of Palestinians since the beginning of this year. The report pointed out that the Palestinian Authority continues to torture detainees.
“Prisoners Day” is an event that has been taking place for nearly two decades and is intended to express solidarity with the thousands of prisoners who are being held by Israel for security-related offences, including some of the worst terrorist attacks in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But as Palestinians were marking “Prisoners Day,” a report released in the Gaza Strip revealed that since the beginning of 2014, this year alone, the Palestinian Authority has arrested 357 Palestinians accused of security/political offenses.
According to the report, prepared by the Hamas-run Ministry of Planning, all 357 detainees belonged to various Palestinian groups in the West Bank, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
The report said that 42 of the detainees are university students. During the same period, Palestinian Authority security forces also raided and searched the homes of 60 Palestinians in the West Bank suspected of security/political offenses, the report added.
In March alone, Palestinian Authority security forces raided and searched 42 private and public institutions, businesses, hospitals and charitable organizations in the West Bank, the report continued. It also pointed out that the Palestinian Authority security forces were continuing to torture detainees.
Not surprisingly, the findings of the report were completely ignored by Palestinian Authority officials in their speeches and statements marking “Prisoners Day.”
Of course, the arrests by the Palestinian Authority also continue to be ignored by the mainstream media in the West. This is a story that does not reflect negatively on Israel, so is therefore not considered worthy of being reported to Western audiences.
Instead, Palestinian representatives chose this occasion to heap praise on the Palestinian “heroes” and “fighters” in Israeli prisons, who have made “gigantic sacrifices for their people and cause.”
The PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi called for dispatching international commissions of inquiry to Israeli prisons to look into Israeli “violations” against the Palestinian inmates. She also went as far as accusing Israel of “war crimes” because of its “mistreatment” of the prisoners.
Most of the Palestinian officials told the crowds at the West Bank rallies that the prisoners are the true heroes of the Palestinians and that there would never be peace with Israel as long as one Palestinian remained in Israeli prison.
As the Palestinian Minister for Prisoners Affairs, Issa Qaraqi, put it, “There will be no agreement or peace or an extension of the [peace] talks until the gates of the prisons are opened and our prisoners are set free.”
So while the Palestinian Authority is calling on the international community to punish Israel for imprisoning Palestinians, its own security forces continue to hold hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinians in prison, some tortured, some without trial. Yet, the Palestinian Authority does not see its actions as a violation of human rights and international law.
It is all right for Palestinians to detain and torture a fellow Palestinian. But apparently it is not all right for Israel to arrest and imprison anyone who harms its security or murders its citizens.
Further evidence of the Palestinian Authority’s double-talk on the issue of prisoners and terrorism was provided one day before Palestinians marked “Prisoners Day.”
At a meeting with Israeli MKs [Members of Knesset, Israel’s parliament] in Ramallah, Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, announced that the Palestinian Authority was “completely opposed to violence by any party.”
The Israeli MKs took Abu Rudaineh’s remark as a straight and clear “condemnation” of a shooting attack that killed an Israeli police officer near Hebron in the West Bank two days earlier. Needless to say, the Palestinian spokesman had made no specific reference to the shooting attack.
Still, for the Israeli MKs, this was sufficient evidence that the Palestinian Authority is opposed to terror attacks on Israelis and is therefore a reliable “peace partner.”
The following day, however, the rallies and speeches marking “Prisoners Day” provided further evidence that the Palestinian Authority continues to glorify Palestinians who launch terrorist attacks against Israel.
The Palestinian Authority even went as far as condemning those who label the prisoners as terrorists. In the words of Qaraqi, the Minister for Prisoners Affairs, “We condemn attempts to distort the image of our prisoners by describing them as terrorists.”
The Palestinian Authority told the visiting Israeli MKs that it is opposed to violence “by any party.” Hours later, the Palestinian Authority told the Palestinian public that those who carry out terrorist attacks against Israelis are “heroes” and “revolutionary pioneers.”
The Palestinian Authority complains that there are more than 5,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons. But the same Palestinian Authority is trying to hide the fact that it is holding and torturing many Palestinians in its prisons.
Originally published at Gatestone Institute.
About the Author: Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Muslim, is a veteran award-winning journalist who has been covering Palestinian affairs for nearly three decades.
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