Palestinians mourn death of man shot to death in gunfight by PA security forces

Amjad Odeh was killed during a Palestinian Authority security raid on the Askar refugee camp near Nablus.

Palestinian security forces 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian security forces 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hundreds of Palestinians participated on Wednesday in the funeral of Amjad Odeh, who was killed a day earlier during an exchange of gunfire between Palestinian Authority security forces and gunmen in the Askar refugee camp near Nablus.
Odeh, 37, was shot in the head during a PA security raid to arrest Yehya Abu Salem. According to residents, he was a member of the Fatah Hawks armed group in the camp, which they said consisted of a few dozen disgruntled Fatah gunmen.
They claimed that Odeh was shot by officers belonging to the Preventive Security Force. However, the PA governor of Nablus, Jibrin al-Bakri, hinted that the victim may have been killed by gunmen who opened fire at the officers.
“There was an exchange of gunfire with gunmen,” Bakri said. “The security force left the camp after arresting the wanted man [Abu Salem]. When the force returned to its base, it was notified that a resident had been shot.”
The governor said that an initial investigation showed that Odeh had been shot from close range whereas the security force was relatively far from the scene.
He added that while Odeh had been shot on the left side of his head, the security force was situated in the opposite direction.
Adnan Damiri, spokesman for the PA security forces, said that Odeh was “innocent” and that a security force had entered Askar camp to arrest a man responsible for “chaos and anarchy.”
Residents of the camp said that members of the Fatah Hawks had distributed a leaflet condemning the resumption of peace talks with Israel two days before Tuesday’s incident.
One resident told The Jerusalem Post that when the security officers arrived to arrest Odeh, dozens of youths began hurling stones at them.
“The officers opened fire into the air and left the camp quickly after arresting Abu Salem,” he said, adding that Odeh was struck in the head with a single bullet as he was standing outside his upholstery business.
“We have no doubt that he was shot by the security forces,” another resident said. “Another man was wounded in the confrontation.”
He claimed that Fatah gunmen opened fire at the security forces “only after they shot and killed Odeh for no reason.”
The killing of Odeh, a former security prisoner in Israel, triggered a wave of protests in the camp and in Nablus, during which youths set fire to several PA vehicles and offices.
Husam Khader, a Fatah leader from the nearby Balata refugee camp, strongly condemned the killing of Odeh and called for firing all the security commanders in the Nablus area.
“Nablus needs emergency treatment,” Khader wrote on his Facebook page. “We need a comprehensive national plan. Nablus and its surroundings are on fire. Where is President Mahmoud Abbas? Where is the weak and powerless government?”