Amateur videos posted on social media show local youths throwing bricks, stones and metal rods at a Palestinian army jeep before chasing it away from central Martyrs Square. Gunshots echoed throughout the city, known as the business capital of the West Coast, for several hours. The violence is reminiscent of how Palestinians often oppose the Israeli military.
The northern West Bank is known as a stronghold for Palestinian militants, and the Palestinian Authority has often struggled to maintain control over the area over the years.
The administration maintains close security ties with Israel in a common struggle against Islamist militants. This helped promote the perception that PA was just a subcontractor for Israel – more concerned with its own existence rather than improving people’s lives.
Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank is now in its 55th year and shows no signs of ending any time soon. The last major round of peace talks ended in 2009. Palestinians seek all of the West Bank, where some 500,000 Israelis are settled, as the center of a future independent state.
In recent months, the position of the Protected Area has been increasingly weakened as Israel conducts nightly raids. Israel launched the crackdown last spring following a series of deadly attacks inside Israel, some of which were launched by militants from the region. Some 90 Palestinians died During the arrests, many people believed by Israel to be militiamen or local youths took to the streets to protest the raids.
Israel said it was forced to act because Palestinian security forces failed to do so. Palestinians say it is difficult and humiliating to cooperate with the Israelis at a time when there is no political horizon.
The United States has pushed both sides to restore calm. But the Biden administration failed to come up with a diplomatic plan, focusing instead on small measures to improve the Palestinian economy.
Palestinian officials declined to comment on Tuesday’s operation. But two Hamas fighters were arrested in the raid, according to their families. One of them was close to another fighter who was recently killed in an Israeli raid.
Residents accused Palestinian security forces of making the arrest in the name of Israel and began firing into the air and burning tires. Palestinian security responded with tear gas, and exchanges of fire took place.
Local resident Hisham Yaish wrote on Facebook that his 53-year-old brother Firas was killed in a gunfight. He did not accuse either party of firing the deadly bullet, saying only that his brother “was killed in catastrophic incidents.”
But Hamas, which has a bitter rivalry with the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority, said Palestinian security forces had killed him.
Hamas condemned the raid and accused the Palestinian Authority of collaborating with Israel.
“While the enemy continues to commit murders, arrests, judgments and settlements, the authorities identify with it by continuing to coordinate security, oppress our people, and pursue and arrest hold resistance fighters whose behavior is beyond all of our national norms,” Hamas said in a statement.
In a statement to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa, Palestinian security spokesman Major General Talal Dwaikat confirmed Yaish’s death.
He said the cause of death was unknown, but claimed an initial report indicated that security forces were not present in the area where he was killed.
“The testimony of witnesses present at the area of the unfortunate accident confirm the veracity of this account,” he said.