The Palestinian Authority claimed on Tuesday that it was facing a “conspiracy” by Israel and some regional countries that seek to harm the Palestinian national enterprise.
The claim came in response to riots that erupted in Nablus on Monday night after the PA security forces arrested two Palestinians, Musab Shtayyeh and Ameed Tbeileh.
"We stress the need to maintain order and security and display responsibility because our main battle is with the occupation.”PA presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh
PA cracking down on terrorism?
Shtayyeh was described by Palestinian sources as close to a senior member of Hamas’s armed wing, Izaddin al-Qassam, who is wanted by Israel for his involvement in terrorism.
Shtayyeh and Tbeileh were transferred to the PA-controlled Jericho Prison, said a human rights activist in Nablus.
Shtayyeh’s family issued a statement in which they denied claims that he had handed himself over to the PA security forces.
The arrest of the two men is seen by some Palestinian political analysts as a message from the PA to Israel and the US that it is cracking down on terrorism in the West Bank. They also noted that the riots reflected the state of deep discontent with the PA among the Palestinians.
“The arrest came in response to allegations that the Palestinian Authority has lost control in Nablus and Jenin,” said one analyst. “The Palestinian leadership is now trying to show Israel and the Americans that it’s taking measures to rein in the gunmen.”
Another analyst pointed out that the arrest came on the eve of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. “President Abbas wants to show that he’s still in control,” the analyst said. “But what happened in Nablus could trigger an intifada (uprising) against the Palestinian Authority.”
Riots in Nablus
Dozens of gunmen who took to the streets on Monday night exchanged gunfire with PA security officers in some parts of the city. Other Palestinians burned tires, blocked roads and hurled stones and various objects at armored vehicles belonging to the PA security forces.
In Jenin, gunmen opened fire at the PA security headquarters. No one was hurt.
Firas Ya’ish, a 53-year-old resident of Nablus, was fatally shot during the clashes. During his funeral, mourners shouted slogans denouncing the PA and calling for halting security coordination between the Palestinian security forces and the IDF.
PA presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh called for calm and urged the Palestinians to avoid being exploited by “conspirators against our national project.”
“We call on our people to be united during this dangerous stage that our national cause is going through,” Abu Rudaineh said. “We stress the need to maintain order and security and display responsibility, because our main battle is with the occupation.”
Talal Dweikat, spokesperson for the PA security forces, also warned Palestinians to be wary of a “conspiracy” targeting their national enterprise. Dweikat said that the clashes in Nablus coincided with the security crackdown in the West Bank by Israel and its “collaborators.”
According to Dweikat, Ya’ish was killed in an area where none of the security forces were present. He claimed that his account was backed by the testimonies of eyewitnesses who were in the area where Ya’ish was killed.
The Palestinian security establishment, Dweikat added, “continues to perform its duty in light of the circumstances and complexities that the Palestinian cause is going through. Preserving our national project is a responsibility that everyone bears.”
Dweikat called for unity and urged Palestinians not to be drawn behind “malicious agendas.”
He stressed that the two men who were arrested by the PA security forces will not be subjected to any harm and said that representatives of human rights organizations would be allowed to visit them immediately.
The ruling Fatah faction, headed by Abbas, also accused Israel and unnamed regional countries of orchestrating the unrest in order to harm the Palestinians and their cause. The faction said in a statement that the Palestinian “struggle” should be directed only against the Israeli “occupation.”
“We hold the Palestinian Authority and its security forces fully responsible for the martyrdom of Ya’ish and for cooperating with the occupation’s murderous policies against our resistance fighters and the heroes of our people.”Hamas
The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights called on the PA to launch an immediate criminal investigation into the killing of Yai’sh and the injury of another Nablus resident, Anas Abdel Fattah, during the armed clashes.
Several Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip condemned the PA for arresting the two men in Nablus and held it responsible for the killing of Yai’sh.
The factions also held an emergency meeting to discuss the repercussions of the violence.
“We hold the Palestinian Authority and its security forces fully responsible for the martyrdom of Ya’ish and for cooperating with the occupation’s murderous policies against our resistance fighters and the heroes of our people,” Hamas said in a statement.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the second largest terror group in the Gaza Strip after Hamas, also held the PA fully responsible for the flare-up of violence.
Abbas Zaki, a senior Fatah official in the West Bank, criticized the PA security forces for arresting the two Nablus men and warned of internecine fighting.
A Nablus-based armed group called Lions’ Den called for civil disobedience and protests against the PA. The group is said to consist of gunmen affiliated with several groups, including Fatah.