|Israel Resource Review
||15th January, 2002
News Stories Inside the Palestinian Authority Not Reported Elsewhere:
Accountability and the PLO . . .
- PLO representative in Washington, Hassan Abdul Rahman has kept millions of dollars for Palestinian students from abroad. He spent money to buy huge homes in the Washington area. He has a Cadillac, beautiful clothes. He gives appearance of doing a tremendous amount of work, but actually does very little. Abdul Rahman has the authority to grant scholarships and receives funds for scholarships for Palestinians to study in the U.S. Indeed, he often has the final word over whether a Palestinian student can remain in the United States.
- PA Preventive Apparatus chief Mohammed Dahlan bought Shawwa family's palace in Gaza for $2 million. He then spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix it up the home of the late Gaza Mayor Rashad Shawa. Shawwa was the leading Palestinian figure in the Gaza Strip and his family is regarded as the wealthiest in the Palestinian community.
- Officials serving under PA police chief Brig. Gen. Ghazi Jabali repeatedly raped a PA employee from Social Welfare Ministry. The rape took place in September during an IDF attack on Gaza City. Jabali's men used the chaos to repeatedly rape her. On October 29, the family of the women are believed to have retaliated. A fire was set in the Arafat Police Academy in central Gaza and destroyed the building. The incident was never reported.
- PA intelligence agents apply to a journalism course in Ramallah. They use this to spy on PA journalists and suspects of those who are in contact with them. The agencies include the PA Preventive Security Apparatus of Jibril Rajoub and PA Military Intelligence. The work of these so-called journalist students means that they monitor Palestinian journalists and try to enter Israel and obtain information.
- Israeli military tells PA officers in Nablus of troop movements so they don't encounter opposition. The PA liaison officers say 'fine but don't pass on message to PA commanders'. So, when tanks move near PA territory, they are attacked by Fatah and PA officers. This has happened often during the last six months amid the ceasefire accords and the Israeli-PA security talks. The Israeli military is aware of this.
- Mohammed Dahlan, Gaza Security Chief, is angry at PA Chairman Yasser Arafat. He said security forces are no longer interested in working and merely spend their time joining Hamas attacks and shaking down people. Dahlan said corruption in security forces is high. Dahlan is staying away from Arafat lately. The agencies are also fighting each other. On October 29, the Arafat Police Academy in central Gaza was gutted by what appeared to be arson. The building was completely destroyed and included documents and sensitive equipment. Dahlan has not publicly criticized Arafat. Instead, he spoke privately to Palestinians and had his aides leak this.
- PA General Intelligence chief Col. Tawfiq Tirawi kidnaps Abu Shaher Sharabati, a member of the Al Quds volunteer forces that helped maintain order in Jerusalem. Because the force was independent and cooperated with the Israeli police in eastern Jerusalem, Sharabati was summoned to Ramallah where he was arrested and tortured on November 2. Tirawi forced 10 members of the force to come to Ramallah and pledge to end the police cooperation with Jerusalem. They did so and Sharabati was freed. Sharabati is regarded as one of the few Arabs in Jerusalem who are willing to buck the PA. He comes from Tsur Baher, which has been under heavy pressure to allow PA to take over. The GSS is aware of this.
- PA police chief Brig. Gen. Ghazi Jabali has stopped using his force to patrol the streets and fight crime. Instead, many of his men are used to protect his private mortar and grenade factories around Gaza City. Jabali provides security as well as hires employees to make mortars and even rockets designed by Hamas. Meanwhile, crime is rampant in Gaza City, including theft and violent crime. Jabali has the "franchise" over protection and production of these mortar factories. He makes sure these factories are running and they obtain supplies.
- Orient House. This is used by corrupt PA officials to determine justice based on who pays the highest amount to the Orient House. The Orient House is being challenged by Sari Nusseibeh, who has taken over the house on Arafat's orders. The house is backed by PA General Intelligence chief Tawfiq Tirawi, who partakes in the revenue and provides muscle. The Orient House building is monitored by Israeli police but the institution operates throughout different locations in Jerusalem.
- PA favors companies dominated by senior officials. They don't pay taxes. Hassan Safarini, a former advisor for the income tax department and currently a lecturer at A-Najah University in Nablus, said that income tax revenues for 2001 a.m.ounted to $50 million that comes mainly from tax deducted from income of salaried employees. PA refuses to collect taxes from major companies controlled or owned by leadership. Arab banks that have branches in the Palestinian areas don't pay taxes on their investments abroad from deposits made by Palestinians residents. He said that while bank deposits amounted to more than $2.7 billion, more than 50 percent of this amount were invested abroad. Yet the banks do not declare their true profits on these investments and therefore do not pay income tax on them to the PNA. He said that PNA companies, such as Palestinian Commercial Services Company, the Petroleum Authority and others, do not declare their income and neither pay taxes on their income. Not including these companies in the state revenues means a big loss to the budget and even opens the way for other companies to do the same and avoid paying taxes. Safarini was speaking in October in an address picked up by the Palestinian newspaper Jerusalem Times. Israel does not directly help PA companies, but it has major contracts with some of them, particularly the Petroleum Authority.
- PA senior officials buy luxury cars. PA uses donor funds for cars and borrows from banks for personal needs. No PLC monitoring of budget and the PLC did not get any reports from the PNA on the budget and where the money was going. No jobs in PA. PA should use around $550 million in donor aid aimed for development for productive projects that would generate income and jobs. The stealing is rampant among EU funding. Because the EU has stopped funding projects in PA. Instead, it gives Arafat a check and let's him do what he wants even though the check is supposed to go for salaries.
- Palestinians are starving and walking around in want during Ramadan. But PA officials continue to get their fat salaries. Islamic groups are using this poverty to recruit suicide bombers for money. Palestinians say they are giving us the choice of starving to death or blowing ourselves up.
- In Bethlehem, Palestinian Legislative Council member Salah Taamari runs militia. Throughout the last year, his men have blackmailed businessmen and extort money. Taamari got money from Arafat and EU for Palestinians and pocketed the funds.
- In Bet Jallah, PA gunmen repeatedly raped three Christians girls. Then they had them killed. In the month of October the girls were suffocated with pillows and then shot. Taamari people linked to Fatah commander Atef Obeyat were accused of doing this. This took place in September during Israeli incursion in Bethlehem.
- In Bet Sahour, a Christian woman was attacked by Taamari people in October. They tried to rape her. Neighbors came to her rescue. PA police came. Taamari people said the women invited them in. Fatah commander Kamal Sweid then threatened the Christians, saying the Taamari people get direct orders from Arafat.
- Pope John Paul II summoned Arafat in November 2001 for audience in Vatican to discuss Christian plight. The Pope demanded that Arafat protect Christians as he had promised in the past. This according to a senior PA source.
- Arafat's deputy Ramzi Khoury, second-in-command in PA chairman's office, has an apartment in Bethlehem. He gave $1,000 to his mistress, a singer named Miss Sansour. Khoury holds audience for Christians and demands money or sexual favors for his services. This is reflective of PA relations with the Christian minority, which has come under increasing pressure from the Muslim majority since the inception of the PA in 1994.
- Arafat appoints new Bethlehem governor, Mohammed Al Madani. The appointment was meant to frustrate PA military commander Col Ahmed Id. Id is a professional officer and hated by Arafat. Al Madani hates Id and Arafat wants the two to fight. Meanwhile, Bethlehem's security forces are paralyzed and can't respond to the growth of organized crime and insurgency groups.
- In Ramallah, PA forces of Jibril Rajoub arrested senior Ramallah judge Ghazi Atrah, on the bench for 30 years. In September, 2001 Atrah was placed in prison on accusations that he planned to sell land to Jews. The charges were found to have been baseless. But Atrah is still in jail. A Ramallah appeals court, headed by Sami Sarsour, ruled that he be released. Atrah was accused of having an apartment in Ofrah.
- 70 Palestinians in Bethlehem are in jail on collaboration charges. PA security official admits that there are no real charges against the 70. But that releasing them would leave them open to attacks from Palestinian enemies. What they really mean is that they don't have huge amounts of money for their release. No human rights group has formally investigated this.
- Fatah commander Atef Abeyat got $40,000 for the release of Bethlehem businessman Sharli Shamiyah. Abeyat demanded $100,000. Abeyat staged two attempts on Shamiya's life. Shamiya is now hiding in Jerusalem.
- Bethlehem businessman Farah Boto was accused of selling land to Jews and was jailed. PA General Intelligence chief Tawfik Tirawi demanded $100,000 and when Tirawi got the money he was released. Then, Abeyat demanded money. First, it was $5,000, then another $5,000. When he stopped paying he was shot with 10 bullets and killed in September. Tirawi reports directly to Arafat.
- Bet Jallah pharmacist Nicole Abu Id was approached by Taamara people aligned to Fatah gunrunner Atef Abeyat and they demanded 20,000 Jordanian dinars. He was warned that unless he came up with the money his son would be killed. Abu Id returned home from his pharmacy and refused to leave his house for two weeks. PA General Intelligence Chief Tawfik Tirawi was told of what happened and refused to do anything. Tirawi is a partner of Abeyat in the gun-running business. Taamara people are Bedouins from the village outside Bethlehem and run by Taamari people.
- In Irtas, Ibrahim Abeyat has taken over for Atef Abeyat. Ibrahim killed a man in Irtas and walks free. Irtas is a village outside Bethelehem.
- In Ramallah, A-Jazeera has agreement with Jibril Rajoub over what to cover. A-Jazeera's correspondent Wa'il Abu Dabah is a Jibril man and refused to broadcast Jihad riots against PA in November in Jenin.
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