Following the withdrawal of the Israeli military and security forces from the city of Jenin last week, Palestinian Authority leader, Mahmoud Abbas, deployed PA security forces in the city to prevent Hamas from taking control.
According to a local N12 news report, Abbas warned Palestinian intelligence head, General Majed Faraj, if they did not act quickly, Hamas could take over the West Bank city, comparing the situation to the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007.
Abbas pointed to the expulsions of two Fatah leaders from funeral processions for fighters killed during the Operation House and Garden campaign in Jenin as proof of Hamas’ growing influence.
Abbas is the chairman of Fatah – the largest party in the Palestinian Liberation Organization – and was elected to the position of PA president in 2009.
N12 also reported that Fatah regional leaders recently asked the PA to “act immediately” to stop Hamas from developing infrastructure in the West Bank. The leaders claimed that Hamas was behind several cases of Palestinian public incitement against the PA.
The Israeli government’s security cabinet met on Sunday to discuss a series of measures aimed at strengthening the PA in the face of Hamas aggression. The measures are considered ways to counter Iran’s influence due to its funding of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
The Israeli government reportedly fears that a weakened or collapsed PA will potentially lead to Hamas becoming dominant in the West Bank, a concern shared by Abbas. The security cabinet released a statement following the meeting:
"In the absence of a change in the national assessment, Israel will act to prevent the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, while demanding that it cease its anti-Israel activity in the international legal-diplomatic arena, the incitement in its media and education system, the payments to the families of terrorists and murderers and the illegal construction in Area C," read the statement.
A day after the Israel Defense Forces announced their withdrawal from Jenin last week, the Hamas-affiliated Al-Qassam Brigades released a video claiming to show the manufacturing of improvised explosive devices in Jenin.
The video shows IEDs ready to be detonated, along with chemicals necessary for the manufacture of IEDs.
بعد يوم واحد من معركة مخيم جنين..— إذاعة الأقصى (@Alaqsavoice) July 6, 2023
وحدة الهندسة القسامية في مخيم جنين تستأنف العمل على تصنيع العبوات الناسفة.
كتائب الشهيد عز الدين القسام - الضفة الغربية
وحدة الهندسة - مخيم جنين pic.twitter.com/VHXxCLYSsf
On Saturday, a delegation of leaders from the Fatah party movement visited Jenin and the nearby refugee camp. The delegation met with the Jenin Mayor Nidal al-Obaidi and pledged to support the rebuilding of the city and refugee camp.
Over the weekend, Fatah fighters took to the streets in several Palestinian cities in Judea and Samaria, shooting weapons in the air and chanting slogans in support of Abbas.
In a statement released Sunday morning, Hamas leader, Abdul Hakim Hanini, confirmed its increasing support for terror groups in Judea and Samaria, internationally known as the West Bank.
"It is an honor that Hamas and its leadership are honored with,” Hanini said, adding that the Hamas organization “gives everything it can of its time, money, leadership and youth to strengthen the resistance and defend the Palestinian people and their sanctities.”
Hamas supports “escalation of the resistance and the expansion of its geographical reach in all parts of Palestine,” Hanini added.
Despite Hamas' claims that it participated in the Jenin clashes, the Israeli military only identified fighters from PIJ among those eliminated during the operation. It also claimed to be targeting facilities operated by PIJ.
Earlier this month, PIJ Sec.-Gen. Ziyad al-Nakhalah said his group was “assisting Fatah operatives with weapons," which was happening “in accordance with instructions from Iran.”
Al-Nakhalah visited Iran last month, where he met with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who stressed the importance of “arming the West Bank and developing resistance activities there.”
“Within Fatah, there are parts that oppose the PA, and we decided to show openness to these groups,” al-Nakhalah said. “We gave them weapons assistance, and their presence helped expand the resistance.”
Unlike Hamas, which receives support from Iran but is largely independent in its operations, PIJ is directly supported by Iran, and its leader was appointed with input from former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander Qassem Soleimani.
Khamenei reportedly summoned the leaders of Hamas and PIJ to Tehran to express his dissatisfaction with “the quiet in the West Bank."
The recent revelation of cooperation between PIJ and Fatah members indicates that Israel’s concerns about Iranian involvement in the Palestinian territories may be legitimate.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.