GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Palestinian media outlets have recently been preoccupied with covering the report issued Feb. 28 by the Israeli state comptroller on the internal investigations of the Israeli army’s failures in the 2014 war on Gaza. While many took this as a victory for the Palestinian resistance, Palestinians took to social media to ask, “Where is our state comptroller’s report?”
Judge Joseph Shapira drafted the 180-page report of the State Comptroller of Israel. It consists of Shapira’s investigations of how political and military leaders failed to handle the threat posed by the resistance’s tunnels in Gaza, which led to the death of 68 Israeli soldiers during the war. This report also included charges of negligence against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of his Cabinet.
On July 7, 2014, Israel waged a war on Gaza that lasted for 51 days, during which 2,147 Palestinians were killed, 530 of whom were children and 340 Palestinian resistance members, while 8,710 of Gaza’s residents were wounded, according to a report issued in November 2014 by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.
Perhaps Palestinians feel it is important to draft a report about the Palestinian parties’ performance during the war, since the Palestinian delegation failed to achieve the required conditions when it negotiated an Egypt-sponsored cease-fire with its Israeli counterpart. One of the most important conditions that was not met was the establishment of a seaport and an airport in the Gaza Strip to ease the harsh living conditions.
Al-Monitor monitored a number of activists who posted on Facebook about the importance of Palestinian parties having their own comptroller in order to assess and review their performance during any new confrontation with Israel.
Activist Aiman Aloul wrote on her page on Feb. 28, “The occupation’s comptroller's report is proof that they operate properly and we don’t. Simple.”
Palestinian youth Abu Yahya Sinwar posted on the same day, “I wonder when will our state comptroller reveal anything, anything?!” in reference to the lack of reports assessing the work of Palestinian institutions and parties.
Sami Akkeila, an academic lecturer at the University College of Applied Sciences in Gaza, wrote on his Facebook page March 1, “Do we even have a Palestinian state comptroller? If so, where are his reports?”
Political analyst Abdul-Sattar Qassem told Al-Monitor, “Perhaps Palestinians do not need any oversight reports, so long as they have a president and leaders who consider themselves infallible.”
For his part, Hamas leader Yahya Moussa stressed that his movement has an operating monitoring apparatus whose mission is to assess and review the political and military performance at the end of every war with Israel.
Moussa, who also chairs the Human Rights and Oversight Committee at the Palestinian Legislative Council, told Al-Monitor, “Hamas closely monitors its political and military departments through a monitoring system that evaluates the performance of politicians and military men without any favoritism in order to explore and fix the areas of weakness. Proof is the growing improvement of the resistance’s performance against the Israeli army in every war.”
He added, “The aim of these reports is to draw lessons and be better prepared for any upcoming Israeli aggression. These reports are not made public and cannot be published because they contain details of the resistance’s secrets, resources, plans, means and methods.”
Qassem believes that the Palestinian parties’ monitoring apparatuses “are not of great value.” He said, “The monitoring apparatuses should be independent and not affiliated with any Palestinian party in order to guarantee transparency and impartiality, which we lack.”
The Palestinian monitoring work in the Palestinian territories began when the Palestinian Authority established the Public Monitoring Body in 1995, after which the State Audit and Administrative Control Bureau (SAACB) was founded in 2004 to monitor the work of the executive, legislative and judiciary authorities. However, these control apparatuses neither monitor the work of Palestinian parties, nor do they keep track of their sources of funding and how they spend their money: They only monitor the work of state institutions.
Independent political analyst Hassan Abdo told Al-Monitor, “The government’s monitoring apparatuses do not do any serious work and they have no influence, because the Palestinian political regime is deeply imbalanced due to the Palestinian division between Fatah and Hamas since 2006, which resulted in two separate regimes in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.”
He added, “The issue of monitoring and controlling the work of the state and Palestinian parties is significantly important in our endeavor to establish a strong, independent state of our own. We cannot establish such a state without a powerful monitoring apparatus.”
In this context, a high-ranking official at the SAACB told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that the Palestinian division has negatively affected the work of official bodies, as government institutions are torn between referring to Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank. The monitoring apparatuses cannot control the work of Palestinian parties [factions] that refuse to deal with official bodies. These parties believe every party is an independent entity with independent sources of financing, according to the source.
He added, “There is no Palestinian law that forces these parties to undergo official Palestinian control, so there is obvious chaos when it comes to oversight in Palestine.”
Palestinians hope to have an active control bureau to investigate the political and even military failures of Palestinian parties and leaders in the framework of their struggle with Israel. However, this dream seems out of reach under the ever-growing Palestinian internal division.