One killed in rare clash between Palestinian security forces and gunmen

Reuters  /  August 30, 2023

RAMALLAH, West Bank – A man was killed on Wednesday in a clash in a town in the occupied West Bank that broke out after Palestinian security forces tried to remove barricades set up by gunmen.

The rare internal violence followed months of intensifying Israeli military raids on West Bank areas where Palestinian gunmen have been increasingly assertive, in a challenge to the internationally-backed Palestinian Authority (PA).

Witnesses said PA security personnel men came to Tulkarm to free up roads to its refugee camp, which gunmen had blocked as a precaution against Israeli incursions. The PA said residents had complained that the obstacles endangered passersby and a school.

In the ensuing gunfight, a Palestinian man, described by locals as unaffiliated to the PA or armed groups, was shot dead. Further details on the circumstances were not immediately clear.

Several gunmen posted a video accusing the PA of his killing.

“We will not keep silent at this act, which aids the occupation forces in arresting and chasing the youths and those (on Israel’s) wanted list,” one of the gunmen said.

The PA, contacted by Reuters, had no immediate response to the militants’ accusations.

Talal Dweikat, spokesperson for PA security services, said gunmen had opened fire at the Tulkarm governorate, “prompting security forces to intervene, taking necessary measures to restore order”.

Hundreds of Palestinians, mostly fighters but many civilians as well, have been killed in Israeli raids since the latest wave of violence erupted in early 2022.

In the same period, dozens of Israelis have been killed in shootings, stabbings, or car-ramming attacks by Palestinians. Violence by Jewish settlers against Palestinians has also surged.

In the latest incident, the Israeli military said its troops shot a Palestinian motorist who rammed into them near the city of Hebron on Wednesday, injuring a soldier. The Palestinian’s condition was not immediately published.

The PA, set up following the Oslo peace accords three decades ago, exercises limited governance over parts of the West Bank. Accused by Israel of being lax against Palestinian gunmen, it says Israeli policies have weakened its sway.

Reporting by Ali Sawafta; additional reporting and writing by Nidal al-Mughrabi; editing by Angus MacSwan