Yet among the dozens since arrested are several security officers, including two battalion commanders of the U.S.-trained Palestinian special forces and a sergeant suspected of being the triggerman, according to Palestinian officials with knowledge of the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the probe is ongoing. All the arrested men had clan-based ties to gangsters who targeted the governor to avenge the police killing of a man from a nearby village, the officials said.
Jenin today remains placid, almost sleepy. But for some observers, the story has become a sort of parable illustrating the inevitable cracks in the Palestinian nation-building project amid the utter absence of a peace process that could end the Israeli occupation. From this perspective, Palestinian security forces in the West Bank risk losing faith that their efforts will help lead to a state, and factions of the dominant Fatah party of President Mahmoud Abbas, or Abu Mazen, are beginning to turn on each other.
“Those who targeted my father didn’t target him personally,” said Mousa’s son, Mousa Qaddoura, 30. “They targeted Abu Mazen’s vision and the entire Palestinian Authority project.”
‘Unrest’ in security services
The Jenin events have alarmed the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, where officials are divided on the strategy of building state institutions as a step toward nationhood, and even defenders of the idea say its credibility has a limited shelf life.
“The calm and stability that you achieve in the occupied territories cannot be maintained for a long period of time without any sort of political progress toward a final agreement,” said Qais Abdul-Karim, a Palestinian lawmaker who said he never supported the state-building project. Today, he said, “there is a lot of unrest in the security services.”
The centerpiece of the project was security reform, which has been backed by a multimillion-dollar U.S. training program since 2005. Palestinian security forces are widely credited with calming the West Bank, though they also face criticism for cooperating with the Israeli military. But Mousa, 60, believed that law and order would strengthen the Palestinians’ negotiating hand, his son recalled — he liked to argue that they had a better chance of beating the Israelis if they approached the conflict as a chess game rather than a boxing match.