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
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
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
"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."