Palestinian Authority officials on Thursday expressed fear that the United Nations may formally declare the Gaza Strip a dangerous zone - a move that would result in the evacuation of the remaining foreign nationals from the area and drastically hamper international humanitarian aid to the Palestinians. PA security sources told The Jerusalem Post that 25 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip last month in internal fighting. Another four were killed in the West Bank, the sources added.
"We're moving very quickly toward such a scenario," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, member of the PLO executive committee and a close aide to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. "The Gaza Strip is full of thugs and gangsters who are responsible for the ongoing anarchy. Soon the Gaza Strip may be declared a dangerous zone, which means that all international organizations would have to leave."
The UN has yet to issue any formal statement to such effect.
Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat warned that a "dangerous zone" declaration would increase the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and called on the PA security forces to start working to end the state of lawlessness and anarchy. "The Gaza Strip has become worse than Somalia," a prominent human rights activist in Gaza City told the Post. "Thousands of gunmen continue to roam the streets and the new government hasn't done anything to restore law and order. Every day you hear horror stories about people who are killed and wounded. The situation is really intolerable."
Muhammad Dahlan, who was recently appointed PA National Security Adviser, said it was time to admit that a "curse has hit" the Gaza Strip. "Anyone who does not admit that there's a curse in the Gaza Strip does not know what he's talking about," he said. Dahlan expressed concern over the wave of kidnappings in Gaza, noting that a local engineer who was abducted several months ago was still being held by his captors. He said that the National Security Council was now preparing a security plan that would end the state of anarchy in the PA-controlled areas. "The Palestinian security establishment needs to undergo major surgery," he added. "The situation is catastrophic and many young men prefer to work for clans and not the security forces."
Dahlan met earlier with the British consul-general in Jerusalem, Richard Makepeace, and briefed him on the PA's efforts to release kidnapped BBC correspondent Alan Johnston, who was snatched by masked gunmen in Gaza City three weeks ago. Hassan Khraisheh, deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said that the commanders of the PA security forces knew where Johnston was being held, but were doing nothing to release him. "What's the point in having 85,000 security officers if they can't free a foreign journalist who has been held in the Gaza Strip for three weeks?" he asked.
Apparently, there have been 46 kidnappings in the last month in the Gaza Strip alone. But Dahlan has brought up an interesting point but offers no explanation - just why is it that young men prefer to work for the clans rather than the official security forces?