Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets Israeli delegation in Ramallah, May 17, 2016.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Four days into the electricity crisis in Tulkarm – whose power has been cut by Israel Electric due to an unpaid municipal bill of some NIS 208 million – local Fatah leaders are resigning from their official posts in protest of the arrest of a number of their members.
Meanwhile, many residents have been forced to purchase generators to provide power during interruptions in service.
On Monday, two Fatah members from Tulkarm created a Facebook page called “Sons of Tulkarm” in protest against the electricity blackouts.
The page, which has since been expunged of its posts, blamed Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah for the crisis, repeatedly calling him “a feudalist” and other derogatory terms.
On Monday evening, the PA security personnel raided the homes of the two Fatah members and arrested them.
Hours later, other local members of Fatah protested the arrests, firing shots into the air and burning tires. The security personnel arrested many of them as well.
The following day, Muayyid Shaaban, the secretary-general of Fatah in Tulkarm, condemned the arrests to a group of reporters. “The random and totally unjustified arrests that took place yesterday are shocking,” he said, adding that “Using our Palestinian security apparatus to arrest young Fatah members, especially by raiding their homes, is unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, Gen. Adnan al-Damiri, the security services spokesman, told The Jerusalem Post
by phone that the security services arrested only individuals who broke the law. “The security service arrested individuals for opening fire, burning tires, and posting defamations against a specific person on Facebook.
Such actions do not constitute [legitimate] protest and their perpetrators will be held accountable,” he said.
On Wednesday, many Fatah members participated in a sit-in demonstration in downtown Tulkarm’s Gamal Abdel Nasser Square, calling for the immediate release of their fellow members. Later in the day, when they learned that the security service had transferred a number of the arrested Fatah members to holding cells in Ramallah and Jericho, dozens of local Fatah leaders resigned in mass from their official posts.
Shaaban told The New Arab, an Arabic publication, that approximately 40 leaders presented letters of resignation.
Fatah is preparing to compete in municipal elections
in early October, which will take place in Gaza and the West Bank, including Tulkarm.