PA keeping lid on Hamas protests in West Bank

"PA police have succeeded in dealing with the demonstrations over the last week," Judea and Samaria Police spokesman says.

man jumps off security barrier 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
man jumps off security barrier 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
The Palestinian Authority Police has proven capable of quelling violent protests and maintaining law and order in the West Bank during Israel's military offensive against Hamas in Gaza, Israeli security officials said Sunday. "The Palestinian police have succeeded in dealing with the demonstrations in the West Bank over the last week," Judea and Samaria Police spokesman Ch.-Supt. Danny Poleg said. The PA police, which recently received training from the Americans, had largely been able to contain violent protests in Palestinian-controlled cities, so they didn't spill over into Israeli-controlled areas, Poleg said."They are under the same high alert as we are," he said. On the instructions of PA President Mahmoud Abbas,the Fatah-controlled security forces have banned pro-Hamas demonstrations. Hamas supporters in the West Bank said the PA's security forces threatened to arrest them if they raised Hamas flags or chanted slogans in favor of the Islamist movement. "We were told that we could only stage protests against Israel and in solidarity with the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip," a Hamas representative said. "We were also warned against initiating confrontations with the Israeli army." He added that it was ironic that "millions of people" in nations across the world were being permitted to demonstrate in solidarity with the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip while Abbas and other Arab leaders were prohibiting such protests. The tough measures in the West Bank are aimed at preventing Hamas from stirring trouble and undermining the Palestinian Authority, a senior PA official in Ramallah said. He pointed out that Hamas leaders have in the past few days called on Palestinians living in the West Bank to rise up against Israel and the PA. "Our security forces have instructions to use an iron fist against anyone who incites and expresses support for Hamas," the official said. On Friday, the PA security forces used force to disperse several hundred demonstrators in Hebron. Sources in the city said at least five protesters were detained. Separately, IDF troops shot and killed Mufid Saleh Walweel, 22, during violent protests near Kalkilya on Sunday, Palestinian medical officials said. The military said the soldiers fired at a man who was trying to cross the West Bank security barrier during a protest in which firebombs and stones were thrown at the troops. Meanwhile, the Israel Police remain on the highest state of alert nationwide over the weekend as the ground operation in Gaza got under way. Hamas has said it would carry out suicide bombings in Israeli cities in retaliation for the Israeli offensive. Nearly 600 Arabs suspected of taking part in violent protests in Israel against the Gaza operation were arrested over the past week, most of them in northern Israel and in Jerusalem, police said. Two hundred and thirty of them remain in detention, while dozens have been charged with rioting and disturbing the peace. Scores of police officers were lightly wounded in the clashes.