PA orders crackdown on criminals, illegal weapons in Hebron

On Saturday, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh visited Hebron, where he chaired an emergency meeting to discuss the deterioration of the security situation in the city.

 PALESTINIANS IN HEBRON demonstrate in support of the six escaped Palestinian prisoners, on Wednesday. (photo credit: WISAM HASHLAMOUN/FLASH90)
PALESTINIANS IN HEBRON demonstrate in support of the six escaped Palestinian prisoners, on Wednesday.
(photo credit: WISAM HASHLAMOUN/FLASH90)

The Palestinian Authority has instructed its security forces to take all measures to halt increased lawlessness and anarchy in Hebron and its surroundings, a senior PA official said on Sunday.

“The instructions from the Palestinian leadership are clear and firm,” the official told The Jerusalem Post. “There will be zero tolerance for anyone who breaks the law and intimidates the residents.”

The instructions came in response to accusations by many residents, including senior Fatah officials and heads of local clans, that the PA was not doing anything to stop the recent wave of violent crime in the Hebron area.

Last week, Emad Khurwat, a senior Fatah official in Hebron, accused the PA of “conspiring” against the city. He also threatened to prevent Palestinian officials from entering Hebron and said that Fatah gunmen were ready to replace the PA security forces in enforcing law and order.

Khurwat and other residents claimed that the city was now controlled by large clans that have dozens of gunmen who often intimidate and extort residents.

Khurwat’s unprecedented and public threat is seen by local residents as a direct challenge to the PA leadership. It also reflects increased tensions between local Fatah activists and the leadership of the faction, which is headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas adjusts his glasses as he listens during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not pictured), in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 25, 2021.  (credit: ALEX BRANDON/POOL VIA REUTERS) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas adjusts his glasses as he listens during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not pictured), in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 25, 2021. (credit: ALEX BRANDON/POOL VIA REUTERS)

Over the past few weeks, some of the clans deployed scores of gunmen in various parts of Hebron as part of family feuds, during which a number of people were killed and several businesses set on fire.

Hebron has long been famous for its tribal justice system, whereby rival clans and individuals solve their disputes, including murder cases, away from the PA’s official judiciary system.

On Saturday, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh visited Hebron, where he chaired an emergency meeting of the commanders of the various branches of the Palestinian security forces to discuss the deterioration of the security situation in the city and its surrounding villages and towns.

The meeting was attended by PA Governor of Hebron Jibrin al-Bakri.

During the meeting, which was held at the headquarters of the Hebron Governorate, Shtayyeh was briefed on the security situation.

According to the PA’s official news agency Wafa, Shtayyeh was also briefed on “Israeli violations in light of the high pace of settlement expansion, land seizure, settler attacks, and incursions into the Ibrahimi Mosque [Tomb of the Patriarchs].”

The Palestinians regularly describe visits by Jews to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem as “incursions.”

 Palestinian Fatah supporters hold flags during a rally marking the 49th anniversary of the Fatah movement, in the West Bank city of Hebron January 2, 2014. (credit: REUTERS/MUSSA QAWASMA) Palestinian Fatah supporters hold flags during a rally marking the 49th anniversary of the Fatah movement, in the West Bank city of Hebron January 2, 2014. (credit: REUTERS/MUSSA QAWASMA)

“Shtayyeh affirmed the directives of President Mahmoud Abbas to meet the demands of the [Hebron] governorate, foremost of which is strengthening the steadfastness of the citizens, providing security and safety for them and their properties, and maintaining civil peace,” Wafa reported.

After the meeting, a PA official in Hebron said that orders have been issued to the Palestinian security forces to arrest residents involved in violent crime and to collect illegal weapons.

The official claimed that one of the main obstacles facing law-enforcement agencies was the fact that many of the suspected criminals have found shelter in the Israeli-controlled part of Hebron.