Supporters of dismissed Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan burn pictures of Abbas
Oct. 7, 2016 9:47 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 7, 2016 1:22 P.M.)
GAZA (Ma’an) — Hundreds of supporters of Mohammed Dahlan, a dismissed
leader of the Fatah movement in Gaza exiled from the occupied Palestinian
territory, marched on Unknown Soldier square in central Gaza on Thursday and
burned pictures of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
According to a Ma’an reporter, the protesters held Palestinian flags along
with the flags of the Fatah movement and demanded presidential elections,
while burning photographs of Abbas.
The Fatah movement released an official statement urging its members not to
participate in the protest.
The demonstration came amid local elections in Palestine that have unraveled
in recent weeks, with the Palestinian government to postpone the elections
for four months after coming under heavy criticism when the Palestinian
Supreme Court announced on Monday that the elections would exclude the
besieged Gaza Strip.
Dahlan was expelled from Fatah’s governing body in June 2011 and once headed
the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA)’s preventative security
PA forces raided his Ramallah home and detained several of his bodyguards
shortly after an appeal submitted by Dahlan against his dismissal was
Dahlan was voted out of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, the party’s
governing body, on June 12, for suspected “criminal acts” that were not
Reports leaked in 2011 said the former Fatah strongman in Gaza was suspected
of building a private armed militia in the West Bank.
Dahlan denied the allegations, responding with an online video message.
“A coup against whom? Do we have an authority in Ramallah to coup against?
We are under occupation, one female soldier rules over the West Bank; the
Civil Administration governs the West Bank,” he said at the time.
Dahlan was formerly a leading Fatah figure known for his fierce opposition
to the Hamas movement. He led a merciless crackdown on the group in the
1990s, rounding up thousands of Islamists who refused to recognize the
legitimacy of the newly-created PA.
But he fell from grace in June 2007 after the humiliating rout of his forces
by Hamas fighters during days of fierce street battles in Gaza, when Hamas
expelled Fatah forces from the territory.
Two years later, he returned to the political stage when he was elected to
the Fatah central committee in August 2009.
But in December 2010, he was suspended from the committee which said it had
set up a commission of inquiry to examine his finances and claims he tried
to set up a personal militia.
Dahlan was also accused by Fatah leaders in 2011 of poisoning the late
Yasser Arafat, but PA sources had told Ma’an at the time that the West Bank
government had come under international and regional pressure not to pursue
In 2015, Dahlan made headlines once again when he called for intergrating
all Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, into the
Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), adding that he was not plannning
on becoming president but had the right to run in a general election “if he
Dahlan also called to stop security coordination with Israel, and said he
considers the Oslo Accords to be invalid.
International media has also reported plans by several Middle Eastern
countries to buttress Dahlan as the next Palestinian President to replace
his rival Mahmoud Abbas.
Critics have accused Abbas of refusing to relinquish his seat as president
despite popular support for him to step down.
The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) found in a 2016
poll that at least 64 percent of the Palestinian public support the
resignation of Abbas.
However, according to the same poll, only 4 percent of the Palestinian
public support Dahlan to become the successor of Abbas, while 33 percent
support Marwan Barghouti, an imprisoned Fatah leader, replacing Abbas as the
next Palestinian president.