While Fatah’s armed wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack near the West Bank settlement of Kedumim, it seems that the group is conflicted over its future policy on terror: Should the organization breach the cease-fire, return to carrying out terror attacks and launch Qassam rockets toward Israel, or should it show restraint?
At present time it seems that the terror option will win out.
Abu Mahmoud, an al-Aqsa Brigades commander in the Balata refugee camp, just outside Nablus, told Ynet “the Kedumim attack was carried out as revenge and as a response to all the recent IDF targeted assassinations, especially in the Nablus area.”
“We will continue with the ‘response’ terror attacks, and the Israelis should know that we can reach any place at any time; there won’t be a wave of assassination without a response from us.”
According to Mahmoud, “we acted with restraint throughout the past few months, but the Israelis did not leave us many choices. Daily IDF raids on our homes, arrests and killings, and yet we upheld our commitment to the calm.”
The al-Aqsa commander claims that Fatah’s defeat in the Palestinian elections does not have a direct influence on the decision to return to terrorism, but it does play a part: “The terror attacks are related, first and foremost, to the Israeli targeted killing policy, and the political issue is not a consideration in a decision to carry out an attack.”
“Our organization, (Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud) Abbas and (Yasser) Arafat before him, were committed to the peace and the idea of forgoing all of Palestine, but instead we received an Israeli and international conspiracy that contribute to our loss in the elections and to the rise of Hamas to power. This makes it easier on us to decide on ‘response’ attacks. Also, it is true that today we are a bit more liberated from the chains of the old leadership that pressured us not to respond.”
‘No terror attacks at this time’
Mahmoud said that in case of escalation his organization would not hesitate to use all the means at its disposal, including the use of rockets in the West Bank, but stressed that “we are willing to return to the calm immediately if Israel ceases its attacks.”
Salah el-Jarmi, a senior al-Aqsa Brigades member from the Nablus area told Ynet that the Kedumim terror attack ran against Palestinian interests and constituted a breach of recent decisions to show restraint.
“The instructions to all cells and activists were clear: No terror attacks at this time. We instructed our members not to be dragged in by the IDF, but unfortunately not everything can be controlled, and sometimes Israel’s actions make things get out of control.”
Following the elections defeat and the repeated IDF targeted killing operations against al-Aqsa Brigades members, the organization had been working to consolidate the various terror cells under one leadership and formulate a policy against Israel.
In recent months it was Fatah that initiated the majority of the Qassam attacks against Israel after Hamas ceased to take part in the launchings. Islamic Jihad members also partake in Qassam-related activity.