Fatah Official: We Will Arm Our Own ‘Military Wing’ In Gaza

A masked activist of Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, a militia linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, marches as he holds the Koran and his rifle during a show of support September 25, 2002 in Deir el Balah, southern Gaza Strip. Nine schoolboys were wounded during clashes with Israeli …
Abid Katib/Getty

TEL AVIV — The Palestinian “resistance” in Gaza will not be disarmed as part of the recent reconciliation deal between the Strip’s Hamas leaders and the government in Ramallah, according to Fatah official Abbas Zaki who spoke to Palestinian media.

“The arms of the resistance are righteous and all those calling to take them away aren’t patriots, just submissive to Israel,” said Zaki, a member of Fatah’s central committee.

According to Zaki, Fatah’s so-called military branch, known as the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, also has a presence in Gaza and the Palestinian leadership will act to keep it fully armed.  The Brigades is recognized by the State Department as a terrorist group. It is responsible for numerous suicide bombings, shootings and rocket attacks targeting Israelis.

“We have brigades in Gaza and now we will return to arming it. We won’t be lambs led to the slaughter. Anyone who tries to touch the arms of the resistance is not a national Palestinian and we need to closely examine anyone who says otherwise,” said the Fatah official.

According to Zaki, the arms of the resistance, “are weapons we use in the shadow of the occupation and that use is on the basis of a national decision. So, these weapons are efficient and have a great effect on Israel.”

Zaki said that the demand to disarm the “resistance” originates from Israel. “This has always been the language of Israel, the insistence to demand that we give up our arms. We aren’t slaves. We won’t give up our arms and the issue can’t be discussion.”

“Resistance” is often used by Palestinian officials as a euphemism for terrorism targeting Israelis

According to Zaki, “In the case of peace agreement or an Israeli withdrawal, this issue could be discussed. We in the central committee prohibited discussion on the topic of disarmament … which would mean cooperating with the Israeli demand.”

In conclusion, Zaki said, “We want these weapons to increase. We want them to be more advanced technologically and to be subject to national decisions.”

Zaki addressed conflicting statements made by Palestinian government officials on the subject of the weapons in the hands of the jihadist organizations in the Gaza Strip, saying, “Government members are tasked with providing services to the people. They should leave the strategic decision on this matter to the PLO.”

Zaki’s comments indicate a conflict among Fatah leaders, particularly between Fatah officials, government officials and the security services under the government. The Palestinian factions condemned Thursday comments from Palestinian police chief Hazem Attallah who said that the Palestinian police won’t be able to function in the presence of armed militias and other factions in the Gaza Strip.

Attallah called on Hamas to disarm its so-called military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, within the framework of the reconciliation deal and even confirmed that full security cooperation between Palestinian Authority and Israeli security services have been renewed in recent weeks.

Attallah’s comments were met with anger from the Palestinian factions who were quick to release statements condemning them.

The National Front for the Liberation of Palestinian demanded in a special statement to end discussion on the issue of disarmament and said, “The arms of the resistance must not become part of a blackmail attempt in the national Palestinian reconciliation efforts. These weapons are our shield against the crimes of the enemy and they are our guarantee for the preservation of national unity.”

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that the comments represent a significant danger.

“This is the great danger facing the Palestinian people, their unity and their rights, first and foremost the right to resist the occupation,” he said. “These comments are used to smear the image of our people and the perception of our struggle and glorious history.”

Other organizations active in the Gaza Strip also harshly condemned the comments.

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