Palestinian factions in Nablus battle one another with gunfights, tear gas

Palestinian Authority's security forces entered Nablus to arrest Hamas operative Musab Shtayyeh, but encountered resistance raids.

 Palestinian demonstrators protesting the arrest of two Palestinian militants clash with Palestinian and Israeli security forces, in Nablus on September 20, 2022.  (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
Palestinian demonstrators protesting the arrest of two Palestinian militants clash with Palestinian and Israeli security forces, in Nablus on September 20, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

Violence broke out between Palestinian Authority security forces and armed factions in the West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday with gunfights erupting on city streets.

The fights began late Monday night when 53-year-old Firas Yaish was shot dead by Palestinian Authority security forces in clashes that continued into the morning with local militias. PA forces used gunfire, tear gas and other protest dispersal means in an attempt to stop the violent riots.

The clashes, involving hundreds of people, erupted after Palestinian security forces arrested Musab Shtayyeh, a Hamas commander wanted by Israel. Four others have sustained injuries, according to Palestinian media, with one of them being identified as Anas Abdel-Fattah. 

Militant factions in Nablus called for a general strike, declaring that until security forces release Shtayyeh, they will not let them enter the city. According to reports, Radio Hayat, based in Nablus, was taken off the air to ensure the safety of the broadcasters, and An-Najah National University, as well as the Nablus municipality, will operate remotely on Tuesday. 

 A view of the site where clashes between Palestinian gunmen and Palestinian security force take place in Nablus in the West Bank September 20, 2022.  (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN) A view of the site where clashes between Palestinian gunmen and Palestinian security force take place in Nablus in the West Bank September 20, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

Why is this happening now? 

This violence is taking place as the IDF is deep into Operation Break the Wave, conducting nightly arrest raids throughout the West Bank. Particular points of tension have been Nablus and Jenin, where Palestinian resistance factions, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Fatah, are gaining street popularity, beating out the PA. 

Shtayyeh's family condemned the arrest and sent condolences to Yaish's family.

Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Hamas both condemned the arrest by the PA of Shtayyeh and another Hamas general in Nablus, and called for continued resistance by Palestinians, identifying the arrests as acts in service of the Israeli occupation. The movement did not address Yaish's death. The Progressive Student Action Front at An-Najah expressed similar sentiments.

 Palestinian demonstrators protesting the arrest of two Palestinian militants clash with Palestinian security forces, in Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank September 20, 2022.  (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN) Palestinian demonstrators protesting the arrest of two Palestinian militants clash with Palestinian security forces, in Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank September 20, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

Another place of tension is the northern West Bank town of Hawara, where the main road leading to the nearby Israeli settlements lies. Over the past few months, Palestinians have thrown stones and shot bullets at passing cars. On Monday, settlers clashed with local Palestinians along the road. 

According to Palestinian reports, Yaish's brother, Amjad, was killed a number of years ago in clashes with Israeli forces

 A view of damaged windows of Palestine TV's studio following clashes between Palestinian security forces and gunmen over the arrest of two Palestinian militants, in Nablus in the West Bank September 20, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN) A view of damaged windows of Palestine TV's studio following clashes between Palestinian security forces and gunmen over the arrest of two Palestinian militants, in Nablus in the West Bank September 20, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

This is a developing story.