Palestinian Authority finally makes an arrest

Don't bring out the champagne just yet.

Att'y Stephen M. Flatow

OpEds Steve Flatow
Steve Flatow

Stop the presses! Here's some exciting news-the Palestinian Authority has finally arrested a fugitive!

After years of ignoring Israel's complaints that the PA never arrests terrorists, officers from the PA's General Intelligence division undertook "a complicated operation" that resulted in the capture of a "dangerous fugitive" in Hevron on July 25, according to the Palestinian news agency Ma'an.  And the arrest was not some isolated episode, but rather "is part of a crackdown by PA security forces," Ma'an reports.

The news probably set off celebrations in the offices of J Street and over at the State Department, where the campaign for Palestinian statehood is constantly being undermined by the PA's refusal to combat terrorists.

It's hard for them to argue that the PA can be trusted with a full-fledged, sovereign state, if Palestinian leaders refuse to fulfill their most basic obligation in the Oslo accords, which is to capture terrorists and put them behind bars.

Well, don't celebrate too soon, gentlemen. A closer look at that Ma'an report reveals that the "fugitive" whom the PA arrested was not one of the many
In fact, the PA has different names for them, such as "heroic fighters" and "sainted martyrs."
hundreds of fugitive terrorists who have taken part in the murder or maiming of Israelis.

Rather, the fugitive the PA nabbed in Hevron is "accused of shooting attacks against Palestinian governmental and civilian vehicles, assaulting government employees, and robbing government institutions and houses in the Old City [of Hevron]," according to a PA security official quoted by Ma'an.

Yes, the arrest in Hevron was part of a broader "crackdown" by the PA--but not against terrorists. It's "a crackdown by PA security forces on criminal activity in the West Bank," says Ma'an. The report even quotes PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah declaring his intention to "arrest all fugitives and put them to justice.”

But when the PA's prime minister talks about "fugitives," he isn't talking about terrorists. No, the PA isn't interested in those kinds of fugitives. In fact, the PA has different names for them, such as "heroic fighters" and "sainted martyrs."

Fugitive terrorists who reside in the Palestinian Authority-occupied territories know that they never have to fear arrest. The areas where they reside, train, and store their weapons are No-Go Zones.

Advocates of Palestinian Arab statehood don't like to talk about the existence of Palestinian No-Go Zones, but every once in a while, a journalist will let the truth slip. On March 23, 2014, the New York Times published a report about Israeli troops going into the PA-ruled area of Jenin in pursuit of terrorists. The reporter needed to explain why it is that the Israelis, and not the PA police, were doing the pursuing. The reason, she said, was that although the Jenin refugee camp is under the "full control" of the Palestinian Authority, "the Palestinian [security forces] did not generally operate in refugee camps" --even though those camps are hotbeds of terror activity.

So, Palestinian fugitive criminals, beware--the PA police may be on your trail. But Palestinian fugitive terrorists, you can sleep easy. You're just not the kind of fugitive the PA cares to pursue.

(Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.)