Clashes with Palestinian security forces in Nablus leave one dead

Clashes with Palestinian security forces in Nablus leave one dead

Ramallah, occupied West Bank – A Palestinian man has been killed during ongoing clashes between Palestinian fighters and Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Nablus.

Local media identified the man as 53-year-old Firas Yaeesh. His death was announced at dawn on Tuesday.

Witnesses, as well as local journalists, have said that Yaeesh was killed by PA police fire. Neither the PA nor Yaeesh’s family has commented and details on the man’s killing remain unclear.

“Armed men had been shooting at the Nablus police centre, then the police began shooting indiscriminately – a bullet from the police hit him and killed him in front of his home,” Nablus-based journalist Hazem Nasser told Al Jazeera, citing witnesses.

An autopsy is expected to be conducted later on Tuesday, according to local journalists.

Another Palestinian man Anas Abdelfattah, who is said to be a student at An-Najah National University in Nablus, sustained serious wounds from a bullet to the stomach and is in a critical condition.

Clashes and confrontations unfolded in Nablus shortly after midnight following the PA’s arrest of two Palestinian fighters, including 30-year-old Musab Shtayyeh, who is high on Israel’s wanted list.

Shtayyeh is a commander with the al-Qassam brigades, the armed wing of the Gaza-based Hamas’s armed resistance movement.

The other fighter was identified as Ameed Tabliyeh.

Ongoing clashes

Clashes were still ongoing at midday on Tuesday, with live ammunition being fired by both sides.

Young people have also thrown rocks and PA security forces have launched tear gas at crowds.

Local journalists told Al Jazeera that a number of people had been injured after inhaling tear gas. PA police have closed off the Martyrs’ roundabout and the area around the Old City in the centre of Nablus.

“The situation is difficult. There is indiscriminate fire. It’s very tense,” said Nasser.

Atef Daghlas, who lives near the roundabout, said that “since the morning, the clashes have reduced in intensity, but there are confrontations with youth ongoing”.

“If there is a funeral procession for Yaeesh, particularly at the Martyrs’ roundabout, the situation may escalate,” Daghlas told Al Jazeera.

Upon news of the arrest of the two fighters, armed groups in Nablus and Jenin released statements calling for their release, and dozens of fighters descended onto the streets and fired live ammunition into the air.

Hamas said in a statement shortly after midnight that it condemned the arrests and called for the immediate release of the detained fighters.

“While the enemy [Israel] continues its killing and arrest operations, and Judaisation and settlements, the PA persists with security coordination and the oppression of our people and persecution and arrest of fighters,” the movement stated.

In a video statement, the Lion’s Den armed group in Nablus said: “We direct an urgent message to the security services: the sons of ‘Lion’s Den’, and all the Palestinian political factions in Nablus, will not accept the [Israeli] occupation’s number one wanted person being [detained] in the PA’s prisons.”

The group threatened that “not one [PA] security force officer will be allowed to operate in Nablus city” if Shtayyeh was not released.

The Jenin brigades, another armed group in the northern occupied West Bank, said “the prisoner Musab Shtayyeh must be released, so that we do not reach a situation you are unhappy with,” and added in their video statement “we did not ask you to fight with us or on our behalf, but do not be a poisoned dagger in our backs”.

The PA’s arrests of the two men come during an Israeli military campaign called Break the Wave, during which Israeli forces have gone after Palestinian fighters, particularly in the northern occupied West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus, where Palestinian armed resistance has become more organised since May last year.

Following a string of attacks in Israel by Palestinians since March, which killed 19 people, the Israeli army has killed out near-daily raids and arrests in the two cities and has often killed Palestinian fighters.

Tuesday’s intra-Palestinian clashes may signal a new phase in the violence that has gripped the occupied West Bank this year.

“[The confrontations signal a] stage of [the armed group’s] putting boundaries with [PA] security forces,” Nasser, the journalist, said. “Yes, there are political arrests, but arresting those wanted by the occupation – that will be prevented.”

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