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Clash Erupts Between Palestinian Authority and Gunmen in West Bank

It is not yet clear if the 53-year-old victim killed in the clashes was hit by the Palestinian Authority (PA) or militant fire

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PALESTINE: In a deadly brawl, Palestinian gunmen had a fiery confrontation with the Palestinian security forces in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, following which, one man was killed. Two militants were arrested, as per reports by witnesses and medics.

Islamist militant group Hamas, a rival of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA), said that the PA had arrested one of its veteran members wanted by Israel and another gunman in the city of Nablus, on the West Bank.

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There was no immediate comment from the PA, which has received intense backlash from Israel and the United States over its failure to rein in gunmen in militant strongholds such as Nablus and the nearby city of Jenin.

Confrontations and deadly brawls erupted in both cities overnight as gunshots were heard at the PA headquarters in Jenin, shops were shuttered and students at the An-Najah National University were instructed to stay at home.

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Some witnesses reportedly saw PA policemen firing tear gas at youths hurling stones. It is not yet clear if the 53-year-old victim killed in the clashes was hit by PA or militant fire.

Violence in the West Bank has spiked in recent months after Israel stepped up a raid into the territory following a series of fatal Palestinian street attacks in Israel.

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PA leaders remark that Israeli incursions weaken its rule, while Israel has counteracted that logic by recognising its ability to prevent more attacks and has demanded that the PA do more to curb militant activity in the area.

The domestic credibility of the PA has slowly waned ever since the U.S. brokered Palestinian statehood talks with Israel collapsed in 2014. Consequently, Hamas leaders, who rule the region de facto, have been regularly calling on militants in the West Bank to step up attacks on Israel and prevent further Israeli invasion of Palestinian land.

The PA has limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank while Hamas rules Gaza, which it seized from Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah in a brief 2007 civil war. The PA continues to claim the Gaza Strip, although Hamas exercises de facto control.

“The Palestinian Authority has positioned itself as an exclusive agent of the (Israeli) occupation against our Palestinian people,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.

The PA has not responded to the matter for comment but continues to allege that Hamas leaders are trying to incite the public against it to weaken its power.

Also Read: Four Die in Basra Clashes As Iraq Spirals into Chaos


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