Mourners shout slogans and wave national and Fatah party flags in the southern West Bank village of Yatta, south of Hebron during the funeral of Roqaya Abu-Eid, a Palestinian teenager who was shot dead following a stabbing attack. Image Credit: AFP

Ramallah: Masked gunmen from Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement have paraded through the streets in several West Bank cities threatening to use decisive force against Palestinians who criticise or defame their leadership.

The Palestinian public outrage came on the heels of a statement made by the powerful Maj Gen Majed Faraj who heads the Palestinian General Intelligence Service and a potential successor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Defense News in which he said that Palestinian security forces have prevented 200 attacks against Israelis, confiscated weapons and arrested about 100 Palestinians since October.

Faraj views the Palestinian security coordination with Israel as a bridge that can sustain stability until politicians return to negotiations with the Israeli occupation authorities. “We are sure that violence will hurt us. It won’t bring us closer to achieving our dream of a Palestinian state,” he said.

Faraj’s dramatic statements shocked many Palestinians, who have taken to social media to vent their anger.

Fatah Information and Culture Commission did not deny the statement but suggested that Israel may have been behind them. The commission urged the Palestinian public in a statement to be wary of Israeli attempts to defame members of the Palestinian leadership.

Palestinian security coordination is a controversial policy locally and has become a source of tension as Israel has killed over a hundred Palestinians in recent months. Given the lack of popularity of the policy on the Palestinian street, Abbas has repeatedly threatened to end coordination with the Israelis but has not delivered on the threat. The security coordination involves Palestinian security services preventing attacks by Palestinians on Israeli occupation forces, a policy that has led many critics to label the Palestinian National Authority as Israel’s “policeman” in the West Bank. Critics of the coordination are often labelled as traitors by the authorities.

Masked gunmen from Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades read a statement in Nablus and another statement in Jenin warning that targeting Faraj with negative comments will not go unpunished, stressing that defaming Palestinian leaders will not be tolerated. “Inciting against Faraj will be confronted with all means at our disposal. Faraj is a key leader and a nationalist patriot and he will not be targeted by collaborators with Israel,” read the statement. “Palestinians currently live under extremely tough conditions and there is no need to pour oil on the already raging fire.”