top of page

“Praiseworthy Attack”: How the Palestinian Authority and Fatah Reacted to October 7 and Why They Can

The Palestinian Authority is unfit to govern the Gaza Strip. Here is why.

The article surveys the PA’s record on support of terrorism, low popularity in the Palestinian street and lack of governability in its existing territories, as well as its ousting from Gaza in 2007 by Hamas.

The article also details the PA’s response to the October 7 massacre in detail, outlining its senior officials’ vehement support of the Hamas attack and its continued official state incitement to copycat attacks in Judea and Samaria, including by officials considered potential heirs to Mahmoud Abba

Chairman of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas (Shutterstock.com)

Fatah video bragging of their participation in the October 7 massacre (source: Palestinian Media Watch)


See Full PDF


Praiseworthy-Attack-The-Palestinian-Authority-Cannot-Govern-Gaza-IDSF
.pdf
Download PDF • 847KB

Overview

As the notion of coronating a “revitalized Palestinian Authority” (PA) in Gaza gains momentum among international decision-makers, Israel rightfully remains opposed to this idea. The PA and Fatah were unfit and unable to rule Gaza before the horrific atrocities of October 7th, and after the attack they are even much less suitable for assuming that role. They took part in the attack, and have not only refused to condemn it but have celebrated it. They are ready and interested in forming a partnership with Hamas and call for more terror and violence against Israel while blaming Israel for the crimes of Hamas and for future violence by the Palestinians. This only demonstrates the detrimental nature of the existing Palestinian leadership to any future arrangement with Gaza, and by extension, in Judea and Samaria (“West Bank”) as well.

 Israel should resist any attempt to replace Hamas in Gaza with the PA, which is committed to and actively promotes, just like Hamas, the Palestinian narrative and ethos of victimhood and struggle against Israel until its demise, including through terror. The euphemism of the “revitalized Palestinian Authority” is vague and hollow, and unless it refers to a profound change in the Palestinian narrative to one that negates terror and supports coexistence with Israel as the state of the Jewish people, which is improbable, the PA should not be allowed to govern Gaza.

One of the most prominent topics regarding the war in Gaza is how Gaza will be governed the day after the war. With different answers to this question, one of the most conspicuous of which is the idea to implant the Palestinian Authority as sovereign in the Gaza strip.

Since this pathway has gained the endorsement of the US administration, with President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and other top figures publicly supportive of the idea to give the PA the keys to Gaza once Israel’s war there ends, and other prominent international figures such as French President Emmanuel Macron voicing similar support, it is vital to examine whether or not this vision for Gaza has any pretense of succeeding, both in terms of credibility and viability. Namely, whether the PA has any real chance to effectively control the Gaza Strip, and whether it constitutes a sought-for partner for the day after in Gaza.

PA officials have even started to dictate their terms for their return to Gaza and Western international circles have begun speculating about the Palestinian leadership that would lead Gaza, focusing on Muhammad Dahlan.

This article explains why the notion of resuming  PA control over the Gaza Strip is unfeasible, details its ties to terrorism, and its official support for the October 7 massacre.

The Palestinian Authority’s record of supporting terrorism

Ever since its inception via the 1993 Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority has demonstrated its commitment to the Palestinian armed struggle and to the annihilation of Israel, rather than performing as a credible peace partner. Led by Yasser Arafat, the PA was deeply involved in instigating and enabling terrorist attacks against Israelis during the Second Intifada while inciting the Palestinian street toward violence and anti-Semitism.[1] Since Mahmoud Abbas inherited Arafat in 2004, the hope in Israel and in the West for a substantive change in the PA’s approach to Israel has faded:

  • Abbas’ PA continues to this day to pay lavish paychecks as a reward to Palestinian terrorists as per a state law that provides that any terrorist will be paid a monthly stipend (“Pay for Slay”), appropriating over $370 million USD annually on this policy (7% of its budget);[2]

  • Its education system is rampant with anti-Semitic content, and teaches children that murdering Jews is a desirable objective, and will help achieve Palestinian national aspirations;[3]

  • The PA radicalizes Israeli Arabs as part of its vision to unify all parts of “occupied Palestine,”[4]

  • The PA has been leading the international BDS campaign to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist;

  • The PA has been conducting lawfare against Israel at the International Criminal Court.

While the PA is often portrayed in Western circles as the legitimate representative of the Palestinians and a more pragmatic partner to have negotiations with, in reality it has proved itself to be far from that image. The distinction between Hamas and the PA may exist in terms of strategy, but the PA continues to demonstrate its extremism and hostility toward regional peace and security. Even its ‘national logo’ consists of a map of “Palestine” which includes all of Israel, demonstrating their intention is creating a Palestinian state in lieu of Israel, not alongside it.

Palestinian Authority’s “Pay for Slay” stipends compared to everyday Palestinians’ wages, making terrorism lucrative

an official map in a Palestinian textbook showing “the entirety of Palestine”, including the entire State of Israel, calling Tel Aviv “Tel Al Rabih”

PA and Fatah official publications. Depiction of a Jewish man stabbed by a terrorist, warning Jews against revenge attacks in Jerusalem

anti-Semitic caricature showing modern-day Israelis compared to Jews in the Holocaust (sources: Palestinian Media Watch, Impact-Se)

The unfeasible notion of the PA effectively governing Gaza

In terms of the feasibility of governing Gaza, the PA does not stand a realistic chance to fulfil the task, even if Israel desired it to do so. There are several reasons for its inaptitude:

  • The PA has already controlled Gaza in the past, and failed miserably. This experiment lasted for less than two years, after the Israeli Disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005. The PA was handed the keys to govern the entire Gaza Strip, after having controlled all major population centers since 1994 as part of the Oslo Accords. In 2006, Hamas defeated the PA in the parliamentary elections, gaining 74 seats out of 132, with Abbas’ Fatah gaining just 45 seats. As a result, a Hamas-Fatah unity government was formed, with Mahmoud Abbas as President and Hamas’ Ismail Haniyyeh as prime minister, an experiment that soon collapsed. In 2007, Hamas successfully took over the Gaza Strip in a violent coup, taking over all Fatah administrative centers and humiliating Fatah members by violently executing them, throwing them off rooftops after shooting their knees and parading their bodies around Gaza as they were tied to the backs of vehicles and dragged around the streets. Ever since, Hamas is the de facto government of the Gaza Strip. There is no reason to believe that 18 years later, the PA can govern Gaza more effectively now, when it is suffering deep criticism and long past its heydays.

  • The PA suffers from an irreversibly poor image amongst the Palestinian street. Polls show how 77% of Palestinians are unsatisfied with Abbas’ performance, and demand he resign. 82% of Palestinians believe it is corrupt, and 63% consider it a burden, as opposed to only 33% who consider it an asset. On social media, similar results show Hamas’ rising popularity while the PA remains deeply unpopular.[5] In a May 2021 poll, Abbas was found to have polled at only 14% if elections were to be held and he ran against Hamas and Barghouti[6].

  • Delegitimization in the Palestinian street: For various reasons, among which are rampant corruption, abuse of social activists, rebellion among PA officers, poor human rights record and tyrannical government, deep dissatisfaction by the PA’s security coordination with Israel and viewing the PA as an Israeli puppet and traitor to the Palestinian cause, the prospect of Palestinians accepting PA control in the Gaza Strip remains extremely slim.[7]

  • Inaptitude in exercising sovereignty: The loss of security control over the territory, with local armed groups taking control over entire areas, as in Judea and Samaria (“West Bank”), where PA forces are not able set foot, has forced Israel to enter Area A and B to deal with terrorists in Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Betlehem, Tulkarm and elsewhere. The PA is unable to fulfill its most basic security functions which is one of its raison d’être in Judea and Samaria, and there is no reason to believe it can effectively govern Gaza as well.


The above photos: IDF counterterrorism operations in Palestinian towns around Judea and Samaria successfully thwart deadly terrorist attacks against Israelis (photos: IDF Spokesperson)

The PA’s response to Hamas’ October 7 massacre: official support, calls for copycat attacks

Since October 7, the PA has also demonstrated its invalidity as a peace partner, by praising the massacre, inciting to replicate the massacre in Judea and Samaria as well, and by failing to condemn it and even celebrating it and including it in their education:

  • Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades militants participated in the massacre, and touted it in its official channels: Fatah’s own terror group the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has also claimed that its fighters participated in the October 7th Its spokesperson has released videos of terrorists abducting and taunting victims from Israel, wearing clearly recognizable yellow scarves associated with Fatah (as opposed to the green color associated with Hamas). The video says, first we “liberate the Gaza Strip,” then the rest of “Palestine” – “tomorrow at the gates of Jerusalem”.[8]

  • Payments to all participants of the massacre: As part of its official state law dubbed “Pay for Slay,” that stipulates all Palestinians who commit attacks against Israel are entitled to lifelong state payments and lavish financial benefits, whether affiliated with Hamas, Fatah, any other terror group or “lone wolves”, the PA is expected to pay the perpetrators of the massacre $2.7 million USD a month and the sum is going to grow in future years.[9]

  • PA and Fatah senior officials openly praised the massacre and called to replicate it around the territories:

  • One of Abbas’ possible successors, Secretary of the Fatah Central Committee Jibril Rajoub, commented on the October 7th He called, it a “defensive war full of epics and heroics that the Palestinian people have been fighting for 75 years”[10], and accused Israel of “terrorism” and “neo-Nazism” in an interview with the Egyptian MBC television channel[11].

He justified the massacre by accusing Israel of provoking it with “the crimes of the occupiers in the Gaza Strip,” and predicted: “The next, more powerful explosion, with even greater violence, will occur in the West Bank.” In western foreign policy circles, Rajoub is considered a moderate.

  • Another presumed moderate and possible successor to Abbas is former PA Security Chief Mohammad Dahlan. He said on a November 6, 2023 show on Russia Today TV that the Western leaders have been coming to Israel to make sure the Israelis would not flee to Europe. This is a common antisemitic trope that Palestinians use – the West wanted to get rid of the Jews and thus created Israel. He said that the “last thing the Americans and Europeans need” is for the Jews to come back to Europe after the Europeans drove them out of their countries[12]

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh refused to condemn the October 7 massacre, and proposed a unity government with Hamas (photo: Shutterstock.com)

  • Marwan Barghouti, a senior Fatah official currently serving a life-time prison sentence in Israel for his involvement in terrorism and who is considered a favorite in polls to inherit Mahmoud Abbas, called upon the PA’s security services to turn their weapons against Israel, carry out a surprise and recreate the Hamas October 7 attack.

Barghouti stated, “O our great Palestinian people, our people in the West Bank, the winds of liberation are growing in the skies of Palestine … Do not be mere witnesses, but rather active soldiers in this decisive battle. … To the members of our great movement, Shabiba commandos … Let the anniversary of the first intifada, December 8, be a turning point and the beginning of an escalating state of engagement with the Israeli enemy in every place that it expects and does not and with whatever tools and capabilities are available, whether small or large. We call for a complete rally behind the option of comprehensive resistance and for activating it in all the occupied Palestinian territories to repel the brutal attacks on our people.

He called on the PA’s security services to be “at the forefront of confronting the Israeli aggression that is shedding Palestinian blood in every city and village, with the weapons and training you possess. There is no excuse for anyone not to participate in a chapter of the liberation battle.”[13]

  • Dahlan gave an interview to The Economist magazine that was published on October 30.th He is described as optimistic and hopeful with regard to the October 7th attacks as he believes that the following events would pave the way for a Palestinian state. “The last month has changed things hugely for the Palestinians, he says. ‘Three months ago, there was zero hope. Who was mentioning the Palestinian cause three months ago? Nobody… Now everybody is talking about our suffering”[14].

  • Another member of Fatah, a member of its Revolutionary Council, Jamal al-Huwail, has said “We were wishing that something similar to what happened in the Gaza envelope would happen, but we thought this was only wishful thinking… Inshallah [‘God willing’], we may see similar scenes in the West Bank”. He called on Palestinian security forces and the PA to use this opportunity to launch an attack against Israel like Hamas.[15]

  • Fatah Tulkarm Branch Secretary Iyad Jarrad has said that Hamas’ operations were “a source of pride, heroism and honor for the Palestinian people,” and that Palestinian leaders in Ramallah “stand alongside our brothers and sisters in the Gaza Strip.”[16]

Senior Fatah Revolutionary Council member Jamal al-Huwail praising the October 7 massacre and calling for copycat attacks in Judea and Samaria (source: MEMRI)

Senior PA official Mahmoud Al Aloul praising the October 7 massacre and calling for revenge against Israel

  • Abbas Zaki, a member of the Fatah Central Committee and formerly the Palestinian ambassador to Lebanon: “After Oct. 7, there has been a Palestinian revival. We thank [Hamas’s] Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades for making these preparations. Once they set out, they knew how to finish the job, without relinquishing our goals.”

  • In Arabic PA personnel reveal in interviews their unwavering support for the attacks. Amad Rwaidy, the Palestinian Authority’s Ambassador to Iraq, said on an October 7, 2023 show on Al-Rashid TV (Iraq) that Israeli civilians are not innocent people, but rather soldiers facilitating the siege on the Gaza Strip. Addressing the Hamas invasion of southern Israel which resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths, he asked how else the people of Gaza were supposed to defend themselves. Rwaidy was appointed in September by PA Chairman Muhammad Abbas[17].

  • These are only a few examples of the numerous statements made by PA officials. This indicates genuine support that cannot be explained away as gaffes, and is consistent with the PA’s official policy of praising Hamas’ October 7 massacre.[18]

Official Fatah’s Nablus Branch praising the October 7 massacre on social media and calling for riots around the territories (source: PMW)

  • No condemnation:

  • PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has yet to condemn the October 7 massacre. On October 7, he issued a statement that failed to address the Hamas atrocities, but instead focused on the Palestinian people’s right to self-defense and concern by so-called ‘settler violence.’ Abbas’ statement said he “gave instructions to provide protection for the Palestinian people, stressing the right of the Palestinian people to defend themselves against the terrorism of settlers and the occupation forces.”

Abbas also “gave directions to provide all that is necessary to bolster the resilience and steadfastness of the Palestinian people in facing the crimes committed by the Israeli occupation and settler gangs.”

Next, the Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry tweeted a statement that “we have repeatedly warned against the consequences of blocking the political horizon and failing to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their legitimate right to self-determination.” It blamed Israel for the “destruction of the peace process” saying that the “absence of a solution to the Palestinian cause” along with “the silence of the international community” to alleged Israel crimes “and the continuation of the injustice and oppression to which the Palestinian people are exposed is the reason behind the explosive situation and the absence of peace and security in the region.”[19]

  • On October 12, Abbas published a vague, general statement during a meeting in Jordan with King Abdullah and ahead of a meeting with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, rejecting “violence on both sides” and refraining from specifying Hamas’ massacre. “We reject the practices of killing civilians or abusing them on both sides because they contravene morals, religion and international law,” the official Palestinian news agency, WAFA, quoted Abbas as saying. He added that Hamas stood against violence and would pursue political action to achieve its goals.[20]

  • Another statement was retracted from the PA’s own media site, WAFA, which included Abbas’ statement that Hamas’ actions “do not represent the Palestinian people.” This seemed too contrarian to Hamas and several hours later WAFA edited the report and deleted this statement[21].

  • A. Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh explicitly refused to condemn Hamas’s crimes against humanity, telling CNN that “what has happened yesterday is yesterday.” He continued and blamed Israel for the massacre, “Israel is not under existential threat… The Israeli government policy has to be held responsible for all what has happened”.[22] On December 7, Shtayyeh told Bloomberg that Israel’s goal to annihilate Hamas is “unrealistic”, and did not rule out an option of collaborating with Hamas in a future Palestinian government as a “junior partner” under the PLO. “Hamas before October 7 is one thing, and after is another,” said Shtayyeh. “If they are ready to come to an agreement and accept the political platform of the PLO, then there will be room for talk. Palestinians should not be divided.” This only emboldens the Palestinian leadership’s commitment to the armed struggle and legitimization of Hamas as a political representative. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu replied that Hamas will not exist, therefore Shtayyeh’s plans are irrelevant.

  • Propagating conspiracy theories: An official PA Foreign Ministry statement claimed that Israel itself committed the Nova Party massacre. Deliberately misinterpreting an article published in Haaretz, this ridiculous claim is said to be part of Israel’s “Hannibal Protocol” which allows the military to kill soldiers to avoid their capture. The statement read, “The [PA] Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates: The Israeli police’s initial investigation reveals the falsehood of the media materials that the occupation falsified in order to justify its aggression against the Gaza Strip. According to the [Israeli] Hebrew media, the Israeli police’s initial investigation proved that Israeli helicopters bombed the Israeli civilians who participated in the nature party on Oct. 7 [2023] (sic., refers to Nov. 18, 2023 Haaretz report that one Israeli army helicopter firing at Hamas terrorists may have accidentally also hit some Israeli civilians; the [Israeli] police have denied this report). This means that Israeli military aircraft caused great destruction in the area and in some of the settlements (i.e., Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip), after the so-called ‘Hannibal Directive’ was activated, which allows the occupation police and occupation army to kill everyone. Therefore, the ministry thinks that the conclusions of the aforementioned investigation cast doubt on the Israeli versions regarding the destruction and killing that took place in that area.”[23]

This claim was adopted by Hamas later on and also mentioned in English interviews such as an interview by Bassam Naim to the Sky News Australia. The PA later retracted this statement form their site with no explanations[24].


Palestinian children incited to anti-Semitism and Jihad (Social Media)

Palestinian Foreign Ministry’s false statement that claims partygoers in Israel on October 7 were the victims of Israeli combat helicopter fire, rather than of Hamas terrorists

  • Incitement to violence: On October 20, the PA issued a document through its Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs which incited for violence and murder of Jews[25]. The document was meant to be an instruction for sermons and included the inciteful hadith, “The hour will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill them, until the Jew hides behind the stones and trees and the stones or trees say, ‘O Muslim, O servant of Allah, this is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

  • Education to anti-Semitism and terrorism: Much like Hamas, the PA relies on UNRWA for much of the education facilities. IMPACT-SR, an NGO dedicated to the study of education in the Middle East and showcasing inciteful and antisemitic textbooks, released a report earlier this month in which children in PA-controlled territories in Judea and Samaria are praising the October 7th attack in UNRWA schools. There is celebration in PA schools for the attack, the NGO said.

For example, just days after the attack, on October 15th elementary school students in Nablus were seen drawing the gliders that Hamas used to infiltrate to Israel and start their murder rampage.

The Ya’bad Secondary Boys School in Jenin governorate told parents it would be closed on October 18 “out of respect for the pure blood of our martyrs, and to denounce the massacres made by the cowardly Nazi Occupation.” The letter also said: “God punish the Jews and those who support them”[26].

The Adnan Zaki al-Safarini Boys’ High School in Tulkarm released a video showing a student’s speech, entitled, “A day that will live forever in the history of the Arab Palestinian struggle… the day of Al-Aqsa Flood.”

These are a few examples; many more could also be found in the UNRWA-run schools in which staffers openly celebrated the attack[27]. Some of the attackers on October 7th also had their UNRWA diplomas in the cars that they used.

This should not be surprising as a Poll showed that 75% of Palestinians support the October 7th attack with even higher rates of approval in Judea and Samaria compared to Gaza[28].

Conclusion

In conclusion, the PA and Fatah were unfit and unable to rule Gaza before the horrific atrocities of October 7th, and after the attack they are even much less suitable for assuming that role. They took part in the attack, refused to condemn it and celebrated it. They are ready to form a partnership with Hamas in the future and call for more terror and violence against Israel while blaming it for the crimes of Hamas and for future violence by the Palestinians.

Israel should resist any attempt to replace Hamas in Gaza with the PA, who is committed to and actively promotes, just like Hamas, the Palestinian narrative and ethos of victimhood and struggle against Israel until its demise, including through terror and violence. The euphemism “revitalized Palestinian Authority” is vague and hollow, and is frankly a lie. Unless the PA would fundamentally change its narrative to one that that negates terror and supports coexistence with Israel as the state of the Jewish people, the PA must not be allowed to govern Gaza.

Comments


bottom of page