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Friday, September 23, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Palestinian Authority employees ordered
to participate in anti-Israel protests

RAMALLAH — The Palestinian Authority was said to have mobilized thousands of civil servants for anti-Israeli demonstrations in the West Bank.
  • Related Story: Israeli forces identify West Bank flashpoints for potential violence September 23

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    Opposition sources said the PA has ordered the more than 100,000 civil servants to participate in demonstrations for Palestinian statehood. They said PA and Fatah officials ensured that government employees attended anti-Israeli protests during work hours.

    "PA employees have been told that if they don't attend these demonstrations, they will be fired," an opposition source said.

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    The opposition Hamas has asserted that PA security forces were monitoring attendance at the anti-Israeli protests, meant to coincide with the formal request by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for international recognition of a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Hamas said senior PA officials have been traveling around West Bank cities warning Palestinians not to ignore the demonstrations.

    On Sept. 18, Nablus Mayor Jubrin Al Bakri was said to have convened a meeting that included senior PA officials in a discussion of the protests. Al Bakri was quoted by participants as warning that any municipal employee or other civil servant who did not attend the anti-Israeli protests in the northern West Bank would be dismissed.

    "This threat was a flagrant infringement on the freedom of citizens and a violation of all norms and traditions," Hamas political bureau member Izzet Rishiq said. "These employees are paid for doing their job and nothing else."

    The PA has been sponsoring demonstrations throughout the West Bank, with major rallies in Nablus scheduled for Sept. 23. Violent protests have already taken place around Hebron, Jerusalem and Ramallah.

    Hamas has boycotted the PA drive for statehood at the United Nations. But opposition sources said the large number of Hamas employees in the PA were being pressured to attend the demonstrations after Friday mosque prayer.

    PA officials acknowledged pressure on civil servants to attend the demonstrations. But they denied that the U.S.-trained security forces were forcing Palestinians to participate in any illegal or violent activity.

    On Sept. 22, several thousand people participated in PA-sponsored demonstrations in the West Bank. In Nablus, 200 PA civil servants, most of them teachers, held anti-Israeli and anti-U.S. banners in a rally described as peaceful.

    "So far, the PA has been making efforts to contain the incidents," Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said on Sept. 22. "I hope it will continue to do so in the coming days."

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