West Bank: One killed as Palestinian forces clash with resistance fighters

Fayha Shalash

Middle East Eye  /  August 30, 2023

Tensions between the PA and local armed men soar following an attempt to remove barricades used to block Israeli soldiers.

One man was killed as Palestinian Authority (PA) forces clashed with resistance fighters in the occupied West Bank city of Tulkarm on Wednesday.

According to local media, the clashes started after PA forces attempted to remove barricades placed at the entrance to the city’s refugee camp, which is used by resistance fighters to obstruct Israeli military raids.

Armed men in the city disputed the removal of the barricades, leading to an argument with PA forces. An exchange of fire erupted minutes later, local media said.

Palestinian police confirmed in a statement the death of a “young man in a shooting in Tulkarm camp” and said that security services have launched an investigation into the incident.

The young man was identified as Abd al-Qadir Zaqdah by his family. 

His uncle, Fadi Zaqdah, told Middle East Eye that Abd al-Qadirm, 22, was fatally shot in the neck while he was going home after buying some groceries from a shop in the camp. 

“We don’t know who fired the bullet at him, so we transferred his body for autopsy at the Arab Specialist Hospital in Nablus,” Fadi said. 

“If those in charge of the autopsy were honest, the truth and who killed our son would appear.”

The Tulkarm Brigade, a small group of armed men involved in resisting the Israeli occupation, issued a statement condemning the use of lethal force by PA officers, accusing them of firing at residents.

“The security services opened fire on the brigade [members] and other residents, seriously wounding a young man,” the group said. 

“We won’t remain silent, and we will not tolerate this deadly violation and actions that help the occupation.”

An eyewitness, who preferred not to be named, told MEE they saw PA security officers indiscriminately using tear gas at peaceful crowds. 

“The security forces were shouting at the people and pushing them away from the entrance of the camp to complete their work in removing the barricades,” they said.

“From the window, I saw laser lights from the snipers stationed inside the PA district headquarters. These lights were directed at dozens of places in the camp, including the children’s school.”

Talal Dweikat, spokesperson for the PA security services, said that a gunman opened fire at the Tulkarm governorate building, prompting forces to take “necessary measures to restore order”. 

He added that forces were operating to remove the barricades after residents complained they were restricting their movement.

The Islamic Jihad’s armed wing in Tulkarm denied Dweikat’s claim that the barricades were causing inconvenience to residents and blamed the PA for killing Zaqdah. 

“We were in contact with the PA security services when their forces arrived but we were surprised when they started shooting at civilians,” the group said in a statement. 

“We confirm that our fighters did not shoot back at PA officers and that our guns are only directed at the Israeli occupation.” 

‘Treacherous acts’

Like other cities in the north of the West Bank, Tulkarm has seen a resurgence of armed resistance against Israel’s occupation in recent months. 

The Israeli military has increased raids in the city to stamp out the armed groups. 

The PA, which coordinates security affairs with Israel, also stepped up arrests of Palestinians accused of being involved in fighting the Israeli occupation. 

PA officers routinely go into Palestinian cities to remove barricades set up by the armed groups, drawing the ire of fighters. 

A spokesperson for Hamas, the biggest group in opposition to the PA, called Zaqdah’s killing a “national and moral crime”.

“We urge the Fatah movement to take a clear position against this crime,” Abdel-Latif al-Qanou said. 

A statement signed off by al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed group affiliated with Fatah, which dominates the PA, lambasted Palestinian forces for the killing. 

“We have long asked the PA to stop targeting resistance fighters and have tried to look the other way when it came to the treacherous acts taken by some of the leadership in the PA,” the statement said. 

“But after today’s events, we want to clearly say that we will cut off the hands of those who deliver our resistance fighters to Israel, and those who slander them.

“From this moment on, any entry by the PA forces into Tulkarm camp will be met with live fire, the same way the Israeli troops are met.” 

Muhannad Karajeh, head of the Lawyers for Justice group, told MEE that the increasing use of lethal force by the PA against peaceful assemblies in the West Bank is a dangerous escalation. 

“When there are tense events, why do the security services not withdraw in the presence of citizens? Why do they not open a line of negotiation with institutions and popular committees? Why do they prefer confrontation more than withdrawal?” Karajeh asked. 

“This raises another question: is there an intention by the security services to engage in clashes to impose their control?”

Last year, a 53-year-old Palestinian man was killed after armed clashes broke out between Palestinian security forces and protesters in Nablus after the Palestinian Authority arrested a high-ranking Hamas member wanted by Israel in an ambush. 

Fayha Shalash is a Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank


Palestinian killed in armed confrontation with PA security services

Al-Jazeera  /  August 30, 2023

Ramzi al-Ardah is shot after confrontations between security services and fighters in Tulkarem refugee camp.

A Palestinian has been killed by Palestinian Authority (PA) security services in a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, local media reported.

Ramzi al-Ardah was shot after armed confrontations took place between the security services and fighters inside the Tulkarem refugee camp on Wednesday.

According to local sources, the confrontations broke out after young men attempted to stop members of the security services from removing barricades armed fighters had put up earlier to obstruct Israel’s repeated raids on the camp.

Al-Ardah’s father Fakhri al-Ardah suffered from suffocation after tear gas canisters were fired by security services, sources said.

‘Bloody violation’

The Tulkarem Brigade armed group said in a statement that PA forces fired live bullets at the residents of the camp.

“The security services removed the barricades that were placed to block the movement of the occupation forces,” the Brigade said. “We will not remain silent over this act that helps the occupation, and we will not tolerate anyone who committed this bloody violation.”

A spokesperson for the Palestinian security services, Talal Dweikat, said armed men opened fire in front of a government building, which resulted in their intervention to take control of the situation.

Dweikat said the security services responded to complaints from citizens about barriers placed in front of schools and municipal buildings, as well as on roads within the refugee camp.

Armed fighters fired at the security services, and in the ensuing gun battle, a man was killed, Dweikat said, without specifying who was responsible.

Alleged car-ramming attempt

In a separate incident on Wednesday, a Palestinian man was seriously wounded after being shot by Israeli soldiers following an alleged car-ramming attempt at a checkpoint in the southern occupied West Bank.

Israeli forces said they shot at a Palestinian-owned car that had accelerated towards an army post near the illegal Jewish settlement of Hagai in Hebron/Al-Khalil.

The Palestinian, whose identity is unknown, was taken to the Israeli Soroka Hospital in Bir as-Sabe’ (Beersheva).

According to local Palestinian media, Israeli forces declared the area a closed military zone, closed the entrance to the Fawwar refugee camp in Hebron and reinforced their military presence.

Photos from the scene showed the car, which had slammed into a concrete block at the army post, riddled with bullet holes.

Near-nightly raids by Israeli forces on Palestinian areas and an increase in attacks by Jewish settlers have led to an escalation of violence across the occupied West Bank, with a rise in Palestinian shooting attacks against Israelis.

According to the United Nations, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in 2023 so far, marking the year as the deadliest since the body began documenting Palestinian deaths in 2006.