Palestinian Authority crackdown on Facebook, other modes of dissent

Special to

RAMALLAH — The Palestinian Authority has intensified monitoring of
dissent in the West Bank.

Palestinian sources said PA security agencies have expanded operations
against suspected dissidents. They said the activities included monitoring
the Internet as well as publications, meetings and cellular phones.

Members of a special Palestinian police force take part in a training session in the West Bank city of Ramallah. /Reuters/Mohamad Torokman

“Facebook is being heavily monitored by newly-trained PA officers,” a Palestinian source familiar with the PA campaign said.

On March 28, PA security forces, most of them funded by the European Union and United States, detained a Palestinian university lecturer on charges of insulting PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The detainee was identified as Abdul Khaleq, 37, who in a Facebook post allegedly called for Abbas to

At the same time, the PA arrested at least three Palestinian journalists after they were said to have written articles critical of the Abbas regime. At least one of the journalists was accused of defamation.

The sources said the Abbas regime, concerned over rising unrest fueled
by inflation and labor strikes, has sought to halt all non-Fatah political
activity in the West Bank. They said this included demonstrations against

On March 30, a Palestinian Legislative Council member was attacked and
injured by Fatah agents near Ramallah during what was termed Land Day.
Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Western-financed Palestinian National
Initiative, sought to lead an anti-Israeli demonstration outside Jerusalem.
Fatah and PA agents were also said to have attacked the ambulance that took
Barghouti to a Ramallah hospital.

“Fatah and the PA saw Barghouti as trying to steal their thunder as they
had organized anti-Israeli protests at the same time,” another Palestinian
source said.

Amid the unrest, the PA has encountered attacks on its security forces.
On March 25, the vehicle of an officer in the PA’s Preventive Security
Apparatus was torched in Nablus. PSA has been assigned the leading role in
the PA crackdown on dissent.

“We regard such a cowardly act as dangerous and suspicious because it
encourages chaos and destabilizes security and safety,” Fatah
secretary-general Mahmoud Ishtaya said.

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