Collaborators who beat and persecute
their own people on lsrael's behalf
their own people on lsrael's behalf
From Khalid Amayreh in occupied Palestine
Security forces loyal to the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) on Friday stormed the southern West Bank town of Dura, assaulting civilians and laying siege to two large Mosques.
The forces, which were riding brand-new vehicles "donated" by the United States, and carrying the official trademark of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) prevented people from accessing the Grand Mosque in town Center, before storming the mosque in order to prevent Sheikh Nayef Rajoub, a popular Islamic leader, from giving the traditional pre-sermon dars or homily.
Rajoub, a former Minister of Wakf and Islamic Affairs, is one of the most popular Islamic leaders in the West Bank. His popularity however, has been a source of anxiety to the Fatah-controlled government whose Wakf Minister, Muhammed al Habbash, last week issued an order barring Rajoub from preaching or giving Islamic lectures at the Mosques.
Rajoub rejected the order, calling it "incompatible with Islam."
According to eyewitnesses, the troops behaved provocatively, offending Muslim sensibilities. They entered the mosque with their boots on, which is considered offensive and nearly sacrilegious throughout the Muslim world.
Seeking to avert a more violent showdown, Rajoub moved to another mosque, the Mosque of al Mujahed, where he started preaching about the virtues of the Holy Month of Ramadan.
However, hundreds of PA troops, including many in plain-clothes, pursued the Sheikh to the Mujahed Mosque, causing a commotion.
Once again, the troops desecrated the mosque by entering it with their boots-on. Another potentially violent showdown between the troops and the angry worshipers was narrowly averted when some local dignitaries convinced the Sheikh to stop preaching.
Eyewitnesses reported that heavily armed troops savagely beat worshipers, including one of Rajoub's brothers.
The storming of the town of Dura and assault on the mosques has infuriated local citizens who called PA troops "servants of Israel" and "Dayton soldiers."
"Even the Israeli soldiers wouldn’t behave like this. What happened today proves that the PA and Israel are two sides of the same coin," said Adib Sharah, a student.
One worshiper called the troops "Israeli collaborators who beat and persecute their own people on Israel's behalf."
Following the end of the congregational prayers, the PA security forces carried out a widespread campaign of arrest in the town and surrounding areas.
Local sources put the number of detainees at 40-50 people, mostly young Islamist activists who shielded Rajoub from attacks by the troops.
Speaking to the PIC Friday night, Rajoub lambasted the PA behavior as an "expression of moral and political bankruptcy."
"Instead of fighting the Israeli occupation and enabling Muslims to access the Aqsa Mosque, the PA is storming and desecrating mosques here in this town. And they are doing this to obtain a certificate of good conduct from the enemy."
He argued that no force on earth could prevent a Muslim scholar from communicating and preaching the message of Islam.
Rajoub, who has a Master Degree in Sharia, said the PA minister of Wakf, al Habbash, had no right to bar Ulema or Muslim scholars from carrying out their basic function.
During the 2006 elections, Rajoub received more votes than any other candidate in the Hebron District.
However, due to his popularity, the Israeli occupation authority targeted him with harsh persecution, throwing him in jail for nearly 50 months on concocted charges, such as supporting a militant organization.
He was released from Israeli detention only two months ago
Rajoub is still very popular which worries the PA which is trying to restrict his activities.
The latest events in Dura come amid accusations by Palestinian Islamic leaders that the PA is effectively fighting Islam in order to please Israel and the United States.
Some Palestinian and Arab experts are convinced that American and Israeli satisfaction with the PA depends largely on the extent to which the PA is willing to impose restrictions on Islamic activism in occupied Palestine.
On Wednesday, PA security forces violently thwarted a meeting in Ramallah organized by liberal and leftist intellectuals who were planning to hold a press conference to declare their opposition to what they view as a capitulation by the Ramallah leadership to American and Israeli dictates.
The violent repression of dissent, which has been stepped up in recent days and weeks, is being viewed as a bad omen by most Palestinians.
Palestinians are worried that the PA might resort to harsh tactics to impose an unpopular "peace deal" with Israel that would effectively liquidate the Palestinian cause by selling out or sacrificing such paramount Palestinian rights as Jerusalem and the right of return for million of Palestinian refugees uprooted from their homes and villages in what is now Israel.
Kufaisheh underlined that this campaign against mosques and religious figures is being carried out according to a carefully-prepared plan targeting the religion of Islam and its followers in Palestine.
He affirmed that the PA prevented this Friday lawmakers Nayef Al-Rajoub and Mohamed Abu Jehaisha from delivering speeches in Al-Khalil and sent unruly elements to harass them, adding that it also closed a mosque and prevented worshipers from performing their Friday prayers inside it.
Many eyewitnesses told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that the PA's security militias also stormed on the same day other mosques in Al-Khalil city in order to prevent the Muslim figures affiliated with Hamas from giving Friday sermons