The Palestinian Authority has stepped up its security crackdown on Palestinians who are affiliated with deposed Fatah official Mohammed Dahlan, an arch-rival of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
The PA suspects that Dahlan, who has been living in the United Arab Emirates since 2011, is working to establish centers of power in the West Bank as part of a scheme to undermine Abbas.
Dahlan, who moved to the UAE after falling out with Abbas and his two sons, reportedly serves as an adviser to UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and some PA officials in Ramallah believe that Dahlan played a role in brokering the recent peace agreement between the UAE and Israel.
Dahlan was expelled from Fatah in 2011 after Abbas accused him of corruption and hinted that he may have been involved in the death of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat. Dahlan has vehemently denied the charges.
Five years later, a Palestinian court in Ramallah sentenced Dahlan in absentia to three years in prison after finding him guilty of embezzlement of public money.
Dahlan currently heads a group named Democratic Reform Current and, according to unconfirmed reports, some Arab countries see him as a leading candidate to succeed Abbas.
A statement issued by the group on Wednesday claimed that PA security forces “raided” the home of Jihad Tummaleh, a senior Fatah official from Al-Ama’ri refugee camp near Ramallah who is believed to be closely associated with Dahlan. The PA security forces also detained Tummaleh’s two brothers, Harbi and Ahmed, as well as Fatah members Ahmed Anabi and Ali Idris.
The Dahlan group said also that PA security officers had raided the offices of a number of civil society organizations and caused damage to their contents.
The group said that the detentions and raids are in the context of Abbas’s “policy of political suppression” and in light of his “failure in all political, economic and social Palestinian aspects of life.”
The PA crackdown on Dahlan loyalists sparked a wave of protests in Al-Ama’ri camp, where dozens have clashed with Palestinian security forces in the past 48 hours. The protesters also blocked roads and threw rocks at the security forces, according to PA police spokesman Loay Izriqat. He said that eight suspects were arrested for participating in the riots.