Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas received a stern ticking-off when he called Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Saturday night to condemn the savage murder Friday night by Palestinian terrorists of the parents and three small children of an Israeli family while they slept at their home at Itamar on the West Bank. The Prime Minister knew Abbas had quietly ordered heads of his Fatah organization to throw its support behind the atrocity – which was why Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was careful earlier to denounce "violence by any quarter" only in general terms.
In his address to the nation Saturday night, Netanyahu accused Palestinian leaders of hypocritically mouthing peace slogans abroad while promoting anti-Israel incitation and propaganda on a daily basis in Palestinian schools and mosques. He warned that terrorists would not be allowed to determine the settlement map.
debkafile's sources report that Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has been caught out playing a double game, which has yet to be fully clarified: Is he supporting an operation by the rival Islamist Hamas action so as to ride the Arab unrest galloping across the Middle East and boost his faltering prestige at home? Is he trying to stir up another Palestinian uprising (intifada)?
It would appear that Abu Mazen is opportunistically hoping to exploit the Palestinian street's sympathy for the Arab uprisings and divert its anger over the corruption deeply entrenched in his regime by letting Fatah terrorists off the leash for a fresh wave of attacks on Israel that could fit the slogan of the Third Palestinian Uprising. Hamas adherents might even rally behind his leadership.
Israeli security chiefs fear that even if Abbas does not mean to let the violence go to those lengths, Fatah activists may take his sympathy for the Itamar outrage as the green light for more attacks. In the last two weeks, Palestinian organizations and left-wing elements in Israel and aboard have been pushing for a Palestinian Day of Rage on Tuesday, March 15 and for two days on March 20-21 the following week, which coincide with the Jewish festival of Purim. Israel's army, intelligence and police have been placed on the highest level of preparedness for terrorist attacks, focusing on the West Bank, Jerusalem and mixed Jewish-Arab towns until after Purim. Security measures have also been clamped down on West Bank traffic in a major operation to net the killers. Itamar has been declared a closed military zone. Saturday night saw angry Jewish settlers blocking and stoning Palestinian vehicles.