Israel fears the quality training Palestinian forces have been receiving in Russia, a report made by Channel 12 revealed.
Since 2007, which marks the severance of Fatah-Hamas ties, Palestinians have been studying at remarkable military Russian academies. Recently, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed students who returned from a battle command and fighting training in Moscow.
Fatah movement Central Committee Secretary-General Jibril Rajoub said in a joint online conference held with deputy head of the movement's political bureau Saleh al-Arouri that the two Palestinian rival groups agreed to unify their positions against Israeli annexation plan.
Furthermore, secretive talks occurred between both parties to reach a unified strategy against annexation. This was approved by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and head of Hamas political bureau Ismail Haniyeh.
According to Times of Israel, “The joint declaration by the two main Palestinian factions raised the specter of a return to the Palestinian terror waves of the Second Intifada, when attackers linked to both Fatah and Hamas carried out numerous deadly suicide bombings and other attacks targeting Israeli civilians and soldiers.”
“The dangers for Fatah in collaborating with Hamas are clear, with the two movements having cultivated growing animosity since 2007,” it added.
Bringing Hamas leader al-Arouri on stage, literally and figuratively, gave Rajoub’s bitter criticisms of Israel’s annexation plans — and his vows to resist them, which he has issued several times in the recent past — a sharper edge: Al-Arouri has a USD5 million US State Department bounty on his head for orchestrating multiple acts of terrorism, the website added.
“Many Fatah members might consider a detente with Hamas to be out of the question, a deal with the devil. But Abbas and the leader of Fatah, may be grasping for the popular legitimacy he has long lacked by closing ranks with the terror group,” it said.
Hamas likely hopes the declaration of unity — and the promised anti-occupation coordination to come — will lead to fewer restrictions on its West Bank operations, Neri Zilber, a Tel Aviv-based analyst and an adjunct fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said.
He added that Hamas has been banned from operating in the West Bank for years, with both Israeli and Palestinian security forces regularly cracking down on its activities and arresting its members.
“Yet, Abbas has already suspended security cooperation with Israel. If Fatah is indeed now willing to coordinate with Hamas, it may turn a blind eye to the terror group’s violence, or even actively encourage it,” Zilber stated.
According to Rajoub, Fatah will try and mobilize West Bank Hamas cadres to participate in mass demonstrations. But if the coordination announced Thursday means giving Hamas cadres a freer hand to organize in the West Bank, terror activities against Israelis could resume in and from the area.