The U.S. expects the Palestinian Authority and its Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to take control over the Gaza Strip, maintain order in the area and begin dismantling terror infrastructures.
The PA must make every effort to preserve a peaceful atmosphere devoid of terror and violence, especially during Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said Wednesday, adding that the persistence of terror and violence is driving a wedge between the Palestinians and is undermining their aspirations for a better life.
The spokesman added that the U.S. praises Abbas’ commitment to create a safe, terror-free environment for the Palestinians and for his willingness to dismantle the terror organizations.
Meanwhile, it seems the recent escalation in violence is not waning. Late Wednesday IDF troops identified two armed Palestinians approaching the settlement of Morag in south Gaza. The troops opened fire at the Palestinians, hitting at least one of them.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has cancelled a trip to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly to personally oversee the developments in Gaza. Earlier the Palestinian leader said he was committed to finding those who murdered former Palestinian security chief Moussa Arafat.
“The murder will not prevent me from enforcing law and order,” he said.
Abbas even instructed the Palestinian security forces to devise a plan for the disarming of the different Palestinian factions in Gaza.
Scene of Moussa Arafat shooting (Photo: AFP)
The “Popular Resistance Committees,” the terror organization that had claimed responsibility on Tuesday for Arafat’s killing and the kidnapping of his son, has retracted it previous statement and denied any involvement in the incident.
100 gunmen surround Arafat's house
“Our organization and its military wing had nothing to do with the killing and kidnapping,” the group said in a later statement. “We will never accept a situation whereby we will act as judges and hangmen of any man.”
The group’s previous statement said its members killed Arafat, a prominent Fatah member, to punish him for alleged corruption after the Palestinian security forces had taken no action against him.
"We have implemented God's law," a spokesman said.
Palestinian sources told the Hamas website that PA officials pressured the “Popular Resistance Committees” into denying their responsibility for the murder.
“These (PA) institutions are attempting to fabricate statements so the suspicion would fall on other Palestinian groups,” the website report said.
Notably, Hamas has also condemned the murder.
On Wednesday morning dozens of Palestinian gunmen stormed Arafat’s home in Western Gaza, overcame his guards, removed him from his home and shot him to death on the street.
Tensions between PA, Hamas mount
About 80 to 100 gunmen traveling in 20 vehicles reached the area, not far from the home of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, at around 4:00 a.m. The armed attackers blocked all roads leading to the house, and directed gunfire, rockets, and mortar shells at the home for about 20 minutes.
Three of Arafat’s bodyguards sustained injuries during the exchanges of fire. At one point, the attackers stormed the house, removed Arafat, shot him in the head from close range, and later confirmed he was dead. The assailants also tied the wounded guards.
Palestinian police officials said Arafat's eldest son, Nimhel, was abducted and taken to an unknown location.
Arafat, 69, the cousin of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, was taken to a Gaza hospital following the attack but doctors said he arrived there dead.
Arafat was removed from his post in April by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in an attempt to fight corruption among security officials.
Tension between the PA and Hamas has mounted in recent days, mainly due to the blast that occurred on Monday in the building of a senior Hamas member. The PA criticized the group for holding weapons and ammunition in private homes and in heavily-populated residential areas.
The IDF is fearful of an escalation in violence in Gaza and in surrounding areas; IDF officials warned the Palestinians of attempts to approach Israeli-controlled areas after Palestinians attempted to raid Tuesday the settlement of Neve Dekalim.
IDF officials were outraged at the Palestinian security forces for not blocking the surging Palestinians and expressed fears that the death of a Palestinian youngster in the incident will evoke further acts of violence.