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Monday, August 8, 2011

Palestinian forces raid Dahlan's Ramallah home

Ramallah’s hotels are full of members of the Palestine Central Council (the second highest representative body in Palestinian politics after the Palestine National Council). PNC Speaker Salim Zannoun has held meetings in Amman, Hebron, Nablus and Ramallah in preparation for a crucial central council meeting in Ramallah this week.
The leading independent daily published in Ramallah, Al Ayyam, boasts a colorful map of the world with 122 flags representing world countries that have indicated they'll vote for full Palestinian membership in the UN.
Robert H. Serry, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, has been quoted in the local press as saying that the Palestinians are ready to take responsibility for their state.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was dispatched to Cairo to convince an emergency meeting of the Arab League that they must step up and fulfil commitments to the Palestinian Authority.
Ever since Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Mishaal signed the reconciliation deal, Israel has withheld taxes and customs it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which usually cover 70 per cent of the PA’s running expenses. Salaries were paid at 50% last month and are in doubt this month.
Threats from the U.S. Congress to cut off aid to the PA are taken seriously here too. Palestinian leaders are making sure that they can get alternative sources of income.

Dahlan returned to Ramallah from Cairo earlier this week to appeal against the decision to expel him on suspicion of financial corruption, murder and plotting to undermine the PA leadership.

He had been living in Egypt and Jordan ever since the dispute between him and Abbas erupted more than a year ago.

Eyewitnesses said that scores of PA security officers belonging to various branches of the Palestinian security forces raided Dahlan’s home early Thursday in the Ramallah suburb of Tira.

Some of the policemen were disguised as garbage collectors from the Ramallah Municipality, the eyewitnesses reported.

It was a big commando operation,” said one neighbor.

In the beginning we thought it was the Israeli army carrying out an operation in our neighborhood.”

Twelve security guards assigned to Dahlan were taken into custody and a dozen vehicles, including armored trucks, were confiscated during the raid, the first of its kind in the West Bank against a top Fatah official.

The PA policemen also confiscated 16 pistols and automatic rifles found in the possession of the guards, as well as thousands of bullets, the source said.

“The raid was carried out against persons suspected of illegal possession of weapons,” said Adnan Damiri, spokesman for the PA security forces in the West Bank. “There is no need for such armed phenomena in wake of the security and stability in the West Bank. We won’t allow a return to anarchy and lawlessness.”

Damiri said that only two officials were authorized to travel in convoys escorted by bodyguards: Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Damiri denied that the PA security men had entered Dahlan’s home, saying that the raid was only against the private guards stationed in the vicinity of the house.

Dahlan was at home during the raid, but no measures were taken against him because he enjoys parliamentary immunity in his capacity as member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, the spokesman said.

Following the raid, Dahlan left for Jordan together with some of his aides. By early evening, most of the security guards who were detained had been released by the PA security forces.

Sufyan Abu Zayda, a Fatah legislator and a close friend of Dahlan who was present during the raid, condemned the move as disgraceful and said Abbas was personally responsible.

A Fatah official said that the decision to expel Dahlan was taken because of violations he had committed against “national and social security.”

The official accused Dahlan of seeking the help of “foreign parties” to undermine the PA leadership, and commit murder and immoral behavior.

According to the official, Dahlan was involved in extortion against Palestinian businessmen in the Gaza Strip during the years that he headed the PA’s Preventive Security Force under Yasser Arafat.

Dahlan had also established “death squads” that targeted innocent Palestinians, the official claimed.

Jamal Muheissen, a senior Fatah official in the West Bank, defended the raid on Dahlan’s home. He said that there was no reason why a member of parliament should have 12 bodyguards and drivers instead of one. He added that one of Dahlan’s men fired into the air during the raid and was immediately arrested.

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