Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) demanded that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas fire the Palestinian governor of Jenin.
The demand came in response to statements attributed to the governor, Akram Rajoub, concerning the widespread presence of gunmen and illegal weapons in Jenin and its surroundings.
The call on Thursday came amid increasing scenes of anarchy and lawlessness in the city and nearby villages and towns, in addition to the Jenin refugee camp, a stronghold of gunmen belonging to various armed groups and gangs.
Earlier on Thursday, gunmen again opened fire at the headquarters of the PA security forces in Jenin. No one was hurt. The headquarters have been the target of several shooting attacks in the past few months.
Abbas has ordered a security crackdown on the armed groups and individuals, some of whom are affiliated with his own Fatah faction.
Last week, Abbas reportedly dismissed the commanders of the PA security forces in Jenin after thousands of Palestinians participated in the funeral of Wasfi Kabaha, a senior Hamas official who died of corona complications.
Dozens of Hamas and PIJ gunmen also participated in the funeral in a show of force seen by Palestinians as a direct challenge to the PA.
Earlier this week, PA security officers who entered the Jenin refugee camp in armored vehicles were attacked by dozens of people, including masked gunmen. At least three people were injured.
Sources in the camp said that the officers tried to arrest Sami al-Rakh, a fugitive who has been on the PA’s list of wanted criminals for several years. According to the sources, the fugitive, who was lightly injured during the attempt to arrest him, managed to escape.
Rajoub, the governor of Jenin, was quoted by a Palestinian media outlet as criticizing the activities of the armed groups in his district. He reportedly said there was no presence of “armed resistance” groups there, implying that the gunmen were just criminals who are not affiliated with any Palestinian faction or involved in terrorism against Israel.
Although Rajoub has denied the statements attributed to him, Hamas and PIJ called for his dismissal. They also demanded that he apologize for allegedly offending the Palestinian “resistance” groups.
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem called on the PA leadership to apologize for Rajoub’s remarks, and to dismiss him from the position of governor of Jenin.
Qassem accused the governor of “insulting the people of Jenin, its martyrs, and its resistance. We are proud of the city of Jenin and its camp, which represents a symbol of the ongoing Palestinian resistance, daily clashes with the occupation, and the endless sacrifices of martyrs, wounded and prisoners.”
PIJ official Khader Adnan also called for the firing of Rajoub. According to Adnan, the PA security forces are responsible for the “security chaos” in the Jenin area.