PA Arabs Forbidden by Muslim Leaders to Flee Street Violence

Grassroots support for the Hamas-ruled PA government is in tatters so religious leaders exhort Muslim Arabs to stay, whether they want to or not.

Hana Levi Julian ,

The Arab “man in the street” living under the Hamas-ruled Palestinian Authority government is starting to realize that voting for the terrorist organization has not brought the shining salvation it promised.

Thousands of Muslim worshippers living in PA-controlled territories are trying to flee their increasingly violent surroundings. Their religious leaders are doing what they can to force them to stay.

On Sunday, a 55-year-old man was killed in Gaza City by members of a rival clan. Two Arab residents of Gaza were moderately wounded in a shooting attack near Khan Younis. Several gang members were also arrested in Gaza City after attempting to kidnap a child outside of a local school; the members confessed that they planned to hold the child for ransom.

Sheikh Hamad Al-Bitawi, a Muslim religious leader and Hamas member, has announced that Arab Muslims are forbidden to emigrate from Israel.

Al-Bitawi ruled recently that Muslims must remain in order to counteract the fast growth of the Jewish population. Thousands of Jews arrive in Israel each month, Al-Bitawi said. It “makes the heart weep,” he told PA residents.

Despite Muslim leaders’ protests, however, thousands of Arabs are abandoning their homes and flooding out of Israel every month, particularly from Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.

At a news conference in Ramallah last November, PA Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Suboh told reporters  that 10,000 Arabs had received permits from Western diplomats to enter their countries since July 2006. He said that most are university graduates or potential immigrants able to invest financially in their new country and called for a halt to the Arab brain drain.

Suboh added that some 45,000 more had requested permission to emigrate since the deterioration in the economic situation and constant violence between the Fatah and Hamas terrorist groups.

Firefights between factions have continued to pour blood into the streets, particularly in Gaza. And the frequent “ceasefires” between Hamas and Fatah and the recent cobbling together of a “unity government” have done little to stem the violence.