(Yuri Kochetkov/Pool via AP, File; AP/HO)
Mahmoud Abbas

Proposing the PA’s return to Gaza ignores the deadly threat posed by Hamas

By Bassam Tawil, Gatestone

Those who believe that the Palestinian Authority (PA) should replace the Iran-backed Hamas terrorist group in the Gaza Strip are either gullible, badly uninformed , or living in delusions.

The PA can presumably handle civilian issues in the Gaza Strip and pay salaries to civil servants, but it cannot – and will never – take on Hamas directly.

The Israel-Hamas war began more than seven months ago, and it appears that the terrorist organization’s military capabilities have not yet been totally neutralized. It could realistically take months, if not years, to destroy the military infrastructure that, over the past two decades, Qatar, Iran, Hamas, and various other terrorist organizations have erected in the Gaza Strip.

Sending PA security personnel to the Gaza Strip while Hamas terrorists are still on the streets would be tantamount to the PA committing suicide.

The crimes Hamas carried out against PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s supporters in the Gaza Strip during the 2007 coup are still fresh in his memory.

That year, Hamas terrorists killed a large number of his security officers and members of his ruling Fatah faction, by, for instance, throwing a PA official off the roof of a tall building.

Hamas has already stated that under no circumstances will it allow the PA security forces to re-enter the Gaza Strip.

In early April, Hamas announced that its men had foiled an attempt by PA intelligence officers to enter the Gaza Strip under the cover of being aid workers.

The PA General Intelligence Service (GIS) chief, Maj. Gen. Majed Faraj, was alleged by Hamas to have personally overseen the officers’ mission. Terrorists from Hamas reportedly arrested 10 GIS officers, while some were able to flee.

“The intelligence officers infiltrated the Gaza Strip to create a state of confusion and chaos on the internal front,” Hamas said. “The [Hamas] security services dealt with these elements, and 10 of them were arrested.

Anyone who attempts to serve the [Israeli] occupation will be struck with an iron fist.”

Hamas continues to oppose attempts by the PA to return to the Gaza Strip. Now it is preventing the PA government from entering the Gaza Strip.

Since its establishment two months ago, the new PA government, led by Mohammad Mustafa, a veteran adviser to Abbas, had for a short time been able to function in the Gaza Strip.

Mustafa’s government was established as part of the Biden administration’s plan to “revitalize” the PA in order to take control of the Gaza Strip once the war ended.

Hamas rejected the PA government on the grounds that Abbas did not consult with it before designating Mustafa as prime minister.

Hamas already warned that establishing a new government would “deepen divisions” among the Palestinians and warned against “making individual and unilateral decisions devoid of substance and without national consensus.”

Hamas and other terrorist organizations operating there also rejected the idea of sending international or Arab forces to the Gaza Strip. “The talk about forming an international or Arab force for the Gaza Strip is an illusion and a mirage,” Hamas and the terrorist groups recently declared.

“Any force that attempts to enter the Gaza Strip will be handled with resistance and treated as an occupying force.”

Abbas is fully aware of the dangers Hamas and other terrorist organizations present. That is likely one reason he is hesitant to dispatch his loyalists to the Gaza Strip.

According to Sky News Arabic, Israel has been under pressure from the US to reopen the Rafah border crossing and hand it over to the PA. Earlier this month, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) took control of the border crossing, which had become a serious security threat. Hamas had held control of the terminal since 2007, when it overthrew the PA and seized control of the entire Gaza Strip. Now both Hamas and Egypt are opposed to reopening the border crossing because of Israel’s presence on the Palestinian side.

The US and Israel offered the PA the management of the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. The PA, however, said it would accept the offer only if Israel agreed to a plan that would result in the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

The PA has also demanded that the Israeli government release Palestinian tax revenues that are being withheld in order to stop the PA from paying murder-for hire-salaries, known as “Pay-for-Slay,” to terrorists who murder Jews, and to the families of dead terrorist murderers.

Abbas has repeatedly emphasized that he will never stop paying these rewards to the terrorists and their families, saying: “Even if I will have to leave my position, I will not compromise on the salary (rawatib) of a Martyr (Shahid) or a prisoner…”

“We will not cut or prevent stipends to the families of the prisoners and martyrs, as some are trying to do…” he had declared earlier. “If we are left with one penny, we will spend it on the families of the prisoners and martyrs.”

The funds are also being withheld by Israel because of the PA’s ongoing efforts to press the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials, for allegedly committing “war crimes.”

The Israeli government, according to reports, is being pressured by the Biden administration to send the money to the PA. This addled and dangerous proposal amounts to expecting the Jews to support the same people who are murdering them.

The Biden administration has also been launching a legal and diplomatic offensive to discredit, isolate, and penalize Israel for trying to defend itself against terrorist attacks.

Meanwhile, the PA, instead of acknowledging that it is terrified to go back to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, is trying to pressure Israel into accepting the creation of a Palestinian state and releasing the tax revenues.

Unbelievably, the PA and the Biden administration apparently want Israel to grant Palestinians a state that will be ruled by the same murders, rapists and kidnappers who invaded Israel on October 7, 2023.

The October 7 massacre serves as a warning: many Palestinians have not given up their dream of eliminating Israel.

Since every last Jew left the Gaza Strip in 2005, the entire place has been a semi-independent state, exclusively ruled by the Palestinians.

The Palestinians were given the Gaza Strip unconditionally to be able to create a “Singapore on the Mediterranean.” Instead, Gaza was used as a springboard for incessant terrorism over the years, and by the Islamist terrorist groups that invaded Israel on October 7.

Abbas might one day return to the Gaza Strip – but only when he sees that Hamas has lost all military might and is no longer in control.

Meanwhile, he feels safe and secure being in the West Bank, where Israel is in charge of overall security and is fighting against Hamas and other Iran-backed terrorist proxies.

He knows that without Israel’s security presence in the West Bank, Hamas would have killed him and toppled the PA long ago.

Those who are pressuring Israel to halt the war are actually demanding that Hamas be allowed to continue ruling the Gaza Strip, rearm, regroup and repeat the October 7 attack, time and again, until Israel is annihilated, as Hamas official Ghazi Hamad said. He added that “Everything we do is justified.”

Allowing Hamas to win its war against Israel would delight two countries deeply committed to supporting terrorism.

The first is Qatar, an oil-field protected by a US air base, and a country with which President Joe Biden’s brother, James, according to court testimony, might reportedly have had business dealings.

Qatar seems never to have met an Islamist terror group that it did not support (here, here and here) or a major US university that it did not fund and indoctrinate. According to MEMRI:

“The terrorist organizations supported by Qatar include Hamas, the Taliban, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, the Al-Nusra Front, Hizbullah, and even the Houthis, with whom the U.S. is currently engaged in a battle in the Red Sea.”

Qatar also runs Al Jazeera, which has been called a “terror channel”, “A Hotbed of Homophobia”, and “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, Completely free of Charge.” It is basically the jihadi mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose motto is:

“Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”

According to MEMRI:

“The Al-Jazeera TV network is an arm of the Qatari regime. It is owned by the government and carries out its foreign policy by means of indoctrination of the Arabic-speaking masses worldwide.

Al-Jazeera, therefore, should not be discussed as a means of telecommunications, but instead as an unyielding and forceful political tool of Qatari foreign policy under the guise of a mass media network.”

The second country deeply committed to supporting terrorism is Iran, repeatedly designated as the “leading state sponsor of terrorism” and currently racing toward nuclear weapons capability.

The Iranian regime – which presently controls four Middle East capitals in addition to its own — Sanaa, Damascus, Beirut and Baghdad — wishes to take over the Middle East, as well as oil-and-mineral-rich Sudan.

Iran’s rulers would undoubtedly not only pave the way for more October 7-style atrocities against Israel, but also other neighbors — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt and Bahrain — especially if Iran obtains nuclear weapons.

* * *

Who said that if Abbas returned to the Gaza Strip he would order his security forces to combat terrorism and prevent attacks against Israel?

Between 2005 and 2007, Abbas ruled the Gaza Strip, yet he took no action to stop terrorist groups from firing rockets at Israel. He also took no action to prevent terrorist groups from amassing a sizable arsenal in the Gaza Strip.

Despite having thousands of security officers in the West Bank, Abbas has done little if nothing to prevent armed groups from forming in the several cities and villages that fall under his jurisdiction.

Thousands of gunmen have organized terrorist groups in recent years, particularly in the northern West Bank. These groups have been responsible for many attacks against Israelis.

Abbas, fearful of being called a traitor, is reluctant to take action against the terrorists.

It might mean his death. Additionally, he is most likely not pursuing the terrorists because they do not directly threaten him or the PA.

If a Palestinian leader does not even have the bravery to condemn the unimaginable Hamas atrocities of October 7, how can one expect him to confront terrorism emanating from his Palestinian Authority?

The Gaza Strip needs moderate and pragmatic leaders who will embark on a process of deradicalizing and reeducating Gazans to lead peaceful, prosperous and constructive lives, freed of subjugation by their leaders, who will finally prepare their people for peace in the region.

At the moment, unfortunately, among the Palestinians, no such leaders exist.