The A1 Fatah wing of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the armed wing of the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas movement have declared a monthlong truce in which neither group will harm those accused of “collaborating” with the Israeli authorities.
The agreement came at the start of a weekend of three violent attracts against Israelis in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
A senior Fatah official, explaining the agreement reached last Friday, said that the Palestinian groups thought it would be best to deal with the issue of so-called collaborators once they have their own judicial system.
Israel and the PLO are expected to complete final negotiations for implementing Palestinian self-rule within the next week or two. Gaza and the West Bank city of Jericho will fall under Palestinian authority shortly after negotiations are completed.
Hamas, which is bitterly opposed to the negotiations, has been responsible for a series of terror attacks against Israelis in the months following the signing of the self-rule accord last fall in Washington.
In placards posted throughout Gaza last week, the PLO and Hamas urged those Palestinians who cooperate with the Shin Bet to sever their links with the Israeli internal security service.
The placards, which have long been used in lieu of newspapers in Gaza, said last week’s meeting between the PLO and Hamas was “intended to strengthen national unity” and frustrate alleged Israeli moves to undermine such unity.
The placards also called for a curtailment of protest strikes, which have been crippling the already impoverished Palestinian economy. School strikes are to be eliminated, a move taken because the Palestinian community has been worried about the effect of the intifada and numerous school strikes on the education of their children.
In interviews on Israeli radio programs at the beginning of the week, PLO representatives were at pains to stress that the agreement between the PLO and Hamas does not presage any cooperation between the two groups against Israel.
“We want the Hamas to be inside the agreement, not outside its scope,” a PLO official said on Israeli television. “We know that Israelis think we will all start killing each other once they have left Gaza. We are going to show you that that won’t happen.
“There will be no civil war. We are intent on stopping the killing,” the official said.
But over the weekend, there were a number of incidents that left three Israelis in the hospital with stab, gunshot or ax wounds.
In Gaza’s Gush Katif settlement bloc on Saturday, terrorists penetrated the settlement of Neve Dekalim and stabbed Sigal Sofer, 23, a mother of two small children. Sofer was said to be in stable condition.
The terrorists came from the Khan Yunis refugee camp in Gaza. One terrorist was killed by Israeli settlers and the second, who was severely wounded, was saved from a lynching at the hands of the settlers by the intervention of the Israel Defense Force.
The soldiers, in turn, were set upon by the settlers and beaten up. The IDF is said to be considering pressing charges against the settlers of Neve Dekalim.
That same day in the West Bank city of Nablus, a soldier manning a lookout post was shot at from a nearby post office building and received moderate to serious injuries. He was later described as being in stable condition. His attacker has not yet been caught.
On Saturday, Aryeh Levin, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, was stoned by a crowd in a central square in nearby Hebron after he had started to argue with passersby. Shopkeepers called on the IDF in Hebron to rescue the man, but by the time soldiers arrived on the scene he had been attacked by two people wielding axes. He was taken to the hospital with moderate to serious injuries.
A search was launched for his assailants, who disappeared into the crowd.