PA security forces disperse protesters supporting Lions’ Den leader

Security forces fired tear gas and assaulted a number of Palestinian protesters, who chanted slogans in support of the Lions’ Den and against the continued detention of certain detainees.

 Palestinian gunmen and mourners attend the funeral of five Palestinians who were killed by the Israeli army during a military operation, in the West Bank city of Nablus, October 25, 2022 (photo credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)
Palestinian gunmen and mourners attend the funeral of five Palestinians who were killed by the Israeli army during a military operation, in the West Bank city of Nablus, October 25, 2022
(photo credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)

Palestinian Authority security forces in Nablus on Tuesday used force to disperse hundreds of Palestinians who demanded the release of Mosab Shtayyeh, one of the founders and commanders of the Lions’ Den armed group.

The forces fired tear gas and assaulted a number of protesters, who chanted slogans in support of the Lions’ Den and against the continued detention of Shtayyeh and other “political” detainees. Some protesters threw stones at PA security vehicles.

Shtayyeh, a member of Hamas, was arrested in September 2022 by the PA security forces in Nablus. The arrest sparked violent protests in the city during which one Palestinian was killed.

Shtayyeh was recently transferred from the PA-controlled Jericho Prison to the Beitunia Detention Center near Ramallah. His lawyer, Mustafa Shatat, said he was able to visit him on Tuesday in the detention center. “His health condition is stable,” the lawyer said.

PA security forces prevent journalists from covering protests

Eyewitnesses said the security officers also prevented a number of journalists from covering Tuesday’s protest. In one video, the officers are seen asking photojournalist Mohammed Turkeman to stop filming the protest. The officers also briefed seized his mobile phone.

Shtayyeh’s father, Akef, expressed regret over the “assault” by the PA security forces on the protesters. He repeated his appeal to the PA to immediately release his son from prison.

 Members of the Palestinian armed factions hold a press  conference over the tension in East Jerusalem, in in Gaza City, on October 14, 2022 (credit: ATTIA MUHAMMED/FLASH90) Members of the Palestinian armed factions hold a press conference over the tension in East Jerusalem, in in Gaza City, on October 14, 2022 (credit: ATTIA MUHAMMED/FLASH90)

“What happened today shows that the Palestinian Authority has not learned the lessons from its crimes against our people.”

Omar Assaf

Palestinian political activist Omar Assaf condemned the PA security forces’ “repressive” crackdown on the protesters. “What happened today shows that the Palestinian Authority has not learned the lessons from its crimes against our people,” Assaf said.

The PA’s Nablus Governorate said in a statement that the security forces dealt with a gathering in the center of the city which came after calls from unknown parties and without obtaining permission from the security authorities. “Out of concern for security and order and to avoid chaos and vandalism, the security services dealt with the gathering from the beginning by warning [the protesters] and asking them more than once to clear the street,” the governorate said, noting that no one was injured.