Daily Israel Report

Fatah Official Skips Mother's Funeral in Gaza

Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan skipped his mother’s funeral because it was held in Hamas-controlled Gaza. PA sources: Israel & the US said not to go.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 1/19/2010, 10:14 AM / Last Update: 1/19/2010, 10:26 AM

Flash 90

One of the highest officials of the Palestinian Authority’s Fatah faction, Muhammad Dahlan, skipped his mother’s funeral in Gaza this out of fears that his life would be endangered. PA sources claimed that Israel and the U.S. both advised him not to go.

Suriya Dahlan, 80, died Sunday of renal failure in the family's hometown of Khan Yunis, according to the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency. Her son, still considered the leader of Fatah in Gaza, fled the region during the 2007 militia war that ended in the takeover by Hamas, and now lives in Ramallah.

Dahlan, who today is the deputy chairman of the Palestine Legislative Council, explained that he will not enter Gaza while it remains under the control of the rival PA terrorist faction.

Formerly dubbed the faction’s “strongman” due to his performance as head of security, Dahlan was reportedly invited by Hamas to participate in his mother’s funeral, but only under specific restrictions, according to Ma’an. He rejected the conditions, which included a requirement to file a formal request with the de facto Hamas government for permission to enter Gaza, and to remain in the terrorist group’s custody for the duration of his stay.

Other media reports alleged that a number of Dahlan’s enemies in Gaza had called for his arrest, and some had vowed to physically attack him if he returned to the region, even to attend his mother’s funeral.

In a statement issued to the media, Dahlan explained that he did not want to “provoke events or confrontations, or injury to members of Fatah who may be abused, as was the case during the commemoration ceremony for Yasser Arafat when more than 10 Palestinians were killed and 100 injured.” He expressed his thanks to Gaza residents who sent condolences and who were present at his mother’s funeral.

“Despite this great sadness that arises from not participating in the funeral, I will not enter Gaza until Palestinian legitimacy is restored,” Dahlan wrote, and charged Hamas with exploiting his mother’s death for political purposes.