The ruling Fatah movement has been bolstered by dozens of military commanders abroad, some of whom prepared to
stay in the West Bank.
Nearly 100 Fatah commanders and senior operatives have arrived in the
West Bank for the movement’s general conference, scheduled to begin on Aug.
4. Some of the commanders, long sought by Israel for mass-casualty attacks,
said they would remain in the West Bank and help renew war against the
“Do we want Fatah to be a liberation movement?” Fatah commander in
Lebanon, Sultan Abu Einan said. “If so, then we must translate this into
actions on the ground.”
The Fatah commanders were said to have arrived from Egypt, Jordan,
Lebanon and Syria. Many of the arrivals have called for an alliance with
Iran to facilitate the resumption of war against Israel.
“Maybe the most important thing is to maintain that our movement is
still in the national liberation stage and preparing to build its authority
for the next stage,” Qasim Subih, Fatah secretary in the Lebanese city of
Some of the commanders expressed surprise that Israel allowed their
entry to the West Bank to attend the Fatah conference, the first in 20
years. One visitor was Khaled Abu Usba, a member of a Fatah cell that
hijacked a bus in Israel in 1978 in which 36 civilians were killed.
“I’ve waited for 30 years to return to Palestine,” Abu Usbah told the
Palestinian news agency Maan. “And now that I’m here I have no intention to
leave. I will wait until I obtain residency here and until my wife and
children join me.”
More than 2,200 delegates from 70 countries were invited to the
conference. Many of them have called for the renewal of the military option
“It is impossible for Jerusalem to be restored to us without thousands
of martyrs,” Brig. Gen. Tawfik Tirawi, the military adviser to PA Chairman
Mahmoud Abbas, said. “Anyone who thinks that America will return Jerusalem
to us is mistaken.”
The former Fatah militia chief in the northern West Bank agreed.
Zakariya Zubeidi, who in 2008 signed an agreement to renounce violence, said
Fatah and the Palestinian Authority were being trained by foreign advisers
to restore a military option against Israel.
“I am happy that our army is trained in Jordan in Egypt, in Russia, in
several countries around the world,” Zubeidi told Maan. “In case of a future
war, we will have some people who will be trained.”
Israeli officials said they were closely monitoring the Fatah conference
and placed security forces on alert for any violence. They said the Fatah
threats against Israel could lead to a resurgence of violence against
Israeli soldiers and civilians in the West Bank.
“This is a declaration of war on the state of Israel,” Israeli
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said.