Palestinian rioters in clashes near Ramallah (REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman).
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
Residents of a predominately Christian village in the West Bank have appealed to the Palestinian Authority to provide protection for them after they were attacked by a group of Palestinian gunmen.
The residents of Jifna, north of Ramallah, said the attack came following a dispute between a woman from the village and the son of a prominent Palestinian figure affiliated with the PA’s ruling Fatah faction.
The dispute erupted after the woman filed a complaint with the PA police in which she accused the son of the Palestinian personality of assaulting her and her children while she was driving her car in the village.
After the police summoned the man for questioning, his father and scores of gunmen arrived at the village and began hurling insults at the Christian residents. Some of the gunmen, villagers said, also fired into the air and demanded that the Christians pay the Jizyah – a per capital annual tax – called the dhimmi - levied on non-Muslim subjects living under Islamic rule.
According to some eyewitnesses, the gunmen who ran amok in Jifna were Fatah activists from the Al-Am'ari refugee camp.
Villagers said that although they called the police, the PA security forces arrived at the scene three hours later.
“The village witnessed scenes of anarchy and lawlessness,” residents of Jifna said in a statement. “Women and children were terrorized by the shooting, and houses were targeted with Molotov cocktails and rocks. The attackers were part of an unruly mob lacking any sense of patriotism. They were led by an influential personality from the Ramallah district.”
PA Governor of Ramallah, Leila Ghanem, said she rejected the attack against the Christian residents of Jifna and promised that the culprits would be punished. She said that all those who “try to destabilize the security and social peace” will be severely punished, in accordance with the law. “Civil peace is a red line,” she cautioned.
Wadie Abunassar, a prominent adviser to church leaders in the Holy Land, expressed outrage over the incident in Jifna. “Thank God there were no casualties,” he wrote on Facebook. “The residents of Jifna, most of whom are Christians, have voiced anger and resentment for two main reasons: first, the big attack carried out by some residents of Al-Am’ari refugee camp (near Ramallah) and, second, the delay in the arrival of the Palestinian security forces.”
Abunassar said that he contacted senior Palestinian officials in Ramallah to intervene to end the incident. He expressed gratitude to PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh for their efforts to “preserve the Palestinian national fabric.”
“We hope that everyone will learn that Christians are an inalienable part of the Palestinian people, that they should not be vulnerable in any way,” Abunassar said. “No influential individuals, regardless of their religious or political identity, should be allowed to violate the law and exploit their power for their personal interests.”
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