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Friday, July 29, 2011     GET REAL

Top critic of Palestinian leader Abbas is again expelled from West Bank

RAMALLAH — A leading critic of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has been attacked by security forces and again forced out of the West Bank.


PA security forces raided the Ramallah home of Mohammed Dahlan in an operation that included gunfire. The July 28 raid took place hours after the Fatah Central Committee rejected Dahlan's appeal of his expulsion from the ruling party.

"No one can hire guards with guns without approval," PA security spokesman Brig. Gen. Adnan Dumeiri said.

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The raid took place less than a week after Dahlan was allowed to return to Ramallah to submit his appeal against the Fatah expulsion. PA sources acknowledged that Dahlan's return stemmed from pressure by Arab and European governments.

The sources said officers from the Preventive Security Apparatus and U.S.-trained National Security Forces stormed Dahlan's house and opened fire toward his bodyguards. They said Dahlan was locked in a room while the PA force arrested 23 bodyguards and aides as well as seized weapons, cars, computers and communications equipment. No injuries were reported.

Dumeiri said security forces found 10,000 rounds of ammunition in Dahlan's home. He said at least two of Dahlan's vehicles were armored.

In June, the Fatah Central Committee expelled Dahlan from the movement. The committee, in a decision said to have garnered significant opposition, accused Dahlan of unspecified "criminal acts."

Dahlan, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, has been regarded as the leading critic of Abbas, who has promised to retire in 2012. A former PA security chief from the Gaza Strip, Dahlan has been accused of forming a secret militia meant to oust the Abbas regime.

Hours after the PA raid, Dahlan was said to have left the West Bank for neighboring Jordan. The sources said Dahlan and his entourage were thoroughly examined by PA officers before being allowed to cross the Allenby Bridge.

So far, about 50 Dahlan associates were arrested by the PA. They included Nidal Abu Sultan, Dahlan's personal assistant. A leading Fatah member, Sufian Abu Zaideh, has called on Abbas to release the associates.

"President Abbas is responsible for this because he is the one who issued the orders," Abu Zaideh, a former PA minister, said. "The procedure against Dahlan is meant to send a message that he should leave the country and never try to appeal against the unjust decision of discharging him from the party."

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