PA security forces hitting lawbreakers with 'iron fist' in West Bank

Abbas issues order to "undertake intensified security efforts to end all violence within Palestinian society."

July 11, 2016 02:42
3 minute read.
palestinian police

Palestinian Authority police officers stand guard in the West Bank [File]. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Palestinian Authority Security Forces have launched an effort to restore security to West Bank villages and cities, focusing on arresting wanted individuals and confiscating unregistered weapons in light of recent deadly violence between Palestinian families in the Jenin area, and gunmen and PASF officers in Nablus.

Palestinian Authority Police spokesman Louay Zreikat told The Jerusalem Post the effort is based on directives issued by Palestinian leadership and will continue until security is restored to all regions of the West Bank.

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“President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah have issued orders to the security services to undertake intensified security efforts to end all violence within Palestinian society,” Zreikat said.

Eleven days ago, in the latter half of the month-long Ramadan celebration, a tribal dispute broke out in Yabad, a village near Jenin, and later that day, a shooting incident took place in Nablus. In Yabad, the Amarneh and Qubha families clashed in an inter-family fight, leaving three members of the Qubha family dead and 14 others from both families wounded.

The same night, a group of gunmen approached a Preventive Security officer’s home in Nablus and opened fire, wounding the officer’s wife. When PASF officers Adi al-Saifi, 24, and Anan al-Tubuq, 26, arrived at the scene, the gunmen opened fire on them, as well, killing them.

The incidents in Yabad and Nablus led to widespread condemnation from Palestinian political and security figures, shedding light on the growing instability in Nablus and Jenin.

The following day, in a rare public statement, PA General Intelligence Services chief Majid Faraj said, “These incidents fall outside the spectrum of our tolerant religion, ethics and social and national values.”

In an emergency meeting, Abbas told the heads of the PASF branches that they must hit everyone who breaks the law and violates the sanctity of Palestinian blood with “an iron fist,” according to Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat.

After the meeting the PASF launched efforts to restore security. On July 5, it arrested a primary suspect, Sabri al-Kurdi, in the killing of the two PASF officers in Nablus. The following day, it arrested another suspect, his brother Sameh al-Kurdi, in a store in Kalandiya, near Ramallah. On Saturday, another four wanted individuals, who were hiding in an apartment in Jenin, were arrested and their weapons were confiscated.

Zreikat warned that challenges lie ahead.

“The intensified security effort has achieved some successes, but many goals have not been achieved. We are working to accomplish these goals.”

Zreikat said the PASF has sent a request to Israel to allow its forces into Palestinian towns in Area C, where it is believed a number of criminals are hiding. He said only a few of PASF’s requests to operate in Area C in recent days have been approved.

“Israel rejects the permanent presence of PASF officers in these regions. This is undermining the Palestinian security services and the enforcement of the law,” he said.

As established in the Oslo Accords, Area C is under Israeli administrative and security control, but Israel sometimes allows PASF officers to enter Area C for short periods of time to carry out security work.

Jenin and Nablus have suffered from disturbances for a long time; shootings and violent incidents have become commonplace in recent years.

In 2007, when Nablus and Jenin faced a security crisis, the United States Security Coordinator (USSC) and newly appointed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad led a campaign to restore security.

According to a 2010 International Crisis Group report, their efforts returned a sense of normalcy to those two cities.

While the Palestinians are launching another effort to restore security, it is still unclear if it will be as successful as the 2007 campaign.

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