Palestinian Authority forces violently suppressed demonstrators in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday evening.
The protesters were demanding an end to PA sanctions that are compounding the suffering of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Earlier in the day, the PA decided to stop granting permits for protests during the upcoming Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan, to “make it easier for citizens to conduct their normal lives.”
Hours later, PA forces fired tear gas and sound grenades, attacked protesters and arrested journalists and activists before the holiday had even begun.
EU trainers have included former members of British forces involved in human rights abuses in Northern Ireland.
European and American support for the PA is predicated on its willingness to continue “security coordination” with Israel, which means in practice helping to suppress any form of resistance to occupation.
Videos circulated on social media showing riot police violently suppressing demonstrations:
“PA security forces haven’t fired a single tear gas canister or bullets at Israeli forces raiding Palestinian neighborhoods,” Quds News Network stated. “Today they used those means against peaceful Palestinian protesters in Ramallah.”
PA forces in civilian clothing attacked and arrested protesters:
Among those arrested was Yahya Rabie, head of the student union at Birzeit University:
Attacks on journalists
In this video, a plainclothes officer is seen attempting to seize a journalist’s phone:
Palestinian journalist Jihan Awad was among other reporters who were attacked and had their phones confiscated during the crackdown on protesters:
Quds News Network reported that security officials also arrested two journalists, American and Turkish.
Hundreds of Palestinians in the West Bank took to the streets multiple times this week calling on the PA to lift sanctions it imposed on the Gaza Strip last year.
Palestinians used the hashtag “lift the sanctions” in Arabic on Twitter to express solidarity with Gaza.
Palestinian civil society groups called on the PA to lift its ban on demonstrations, stating that it is “illegal, unconstitutional and a violation of citizens’ rights to gather peacefully and express their opinions.”
They added that PA security forces must ensure the safety of those participating in the protests.
In April 2017, the PA drastically cut the salaries of public employees in Gaza, compounding the severe hardships caused by Israel’s decade-long siege.
Salaries are still not being paid.
Last year, the PA asked Israel to cut Gaza’s electricity supply, causing a severe deterioration in the already dire humanitarian situation.
The PA also delayed the approval of medical transfers to the West Bank, which resulted in deaths of Gaza patients, including a child.
PA leader Mahmoud Abbas imposed the sanctions as part of his efforts to oust Hamas, the rival of his own Fatah faction.
In 2006 Hamas defeated Fatah in legislative elections.
However, Abbas’ party, backed by Israel, the US, the EU and some Arab states, did not allow Hamas to govern the Palestinian Authority.
Instead, Fatah-aligned militias in Gaza, working with the United States, tried to remove Hamas from power by force.
But in June 2007, Hamas moved against them preemptively, expelling Fatah forces from Gaza.
The attempted putsch against Hamas after it won the elections resulted in the current division, where Abbas’ Western-backed PA kept control in the West Bank, while the internationally isolated Hamas has ruled the interior of the besieged Gaza Strip.
Ali Abunimah contributed research.
- Mahmoud Abbas
- Gaza siege
- Palestinian Authority
- Palestinian Authority salary cuts
- Palestinian Authority security forces
- attacks on journalists
- European Union
- security coordination
- Palestinian Journalists Syndicate
- Jihan Awad
- Sameh Abu Awad
- Birzeit University
- Tariq al-Sadi
- Yahya Rabie
- Quds News Network
- Razan al-Najjar