Dahlan leading anti-Arafat revolt on West Bank

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

RAMALLAH Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has launched a campaign of intimidation against dissidents of the ruling Fatah movement in the West Bank.

Palestinian sources said the campaign has included attacks on Arafat critics, telephone threats to Fatah dissidents and the breaking up of gatherings held to discuss reforms.

Meanwhile, the leader of the anti-Arafat revolt has been identified as former PA Security Minister Mohammed Dahlan. Dahlan was said to have garnered Egyptian and U.S. support and funds for his so-called pro-reform campaign, Middle East Newsline reported.

"Arafat is sitting on the corpses and destruction of the Palestinians at a time when they're in desperate need of a new mentality," Dahlan told the Kuwaiti daily Al Watan. "What has happened in Gaza is an expression of our demands for reform."

Dahlan, who later denied speaking to Al Watan, gave Arafat an Aug. 10 deadline to implement genuine reform within the PA and dismiss the chairman's nephew, security chief Mussa Arafat. He warned that 30,000 Palestinians were being organized to march against the PA chairman in the Gaza Strip.

"The Palestinian situation will not tolerate corruption, and there is no alternative to the reforms that Arafat himself has authorized," Dahlan said. So far, a leading Palestinian legislator has been shot and seriously wounded. Former PA minister Nabil Amr was shot in the leg by Arafat-aligned gunmen and taken to Germany where his limb was amputated.

On Sunday, Arafat agents broke up a conference of Fatah dissidents in Nablus that included 70 of the 88 members of the PLC. About 20 gunmen identified as members of the Fatah-dominated Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades burst into the conference in Ramallah and shot their weapons in the air.

Nobody was injured but the meeting ended. The conference, which drafted an appeal to Arafat, had been scheduled to last a week.

"President Arafat, this might be the last chance to reform our situation before we reach the end," the letter by Fatah dissidents said. "We need a revolution within our Fatah movement."

The sources said Arafat has stepped up measures to prevent threats to his rule in the West Bank. In the Gaza Strip, Fatah dissidents have captured several PA arsenals and installations.

[Palestinian gunners fired two Kassam-class short-range missiles toward Israel. One of the missiles slammed into an empty apartment in the Israeli city of Sderot. Nobody was injured in Monday's attack.]

On Monday, a PA security officer hurled two grenades in the main PA prison in Gaza City where those suspected of collaborating with Israel were being held. Seven inmates were injured.

Hours later, Islamic Jihad insurgents ambushed one of the inmates who had arrived at a Gaza City hospital for treatment. The insurgents shot and killed the inmate, identified as Mohammed Sharif, accused of having helped Israel assassinate a Jihad commander in the mid-1990s.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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