A Palestinian man was killed overnight on Tuesday when Palestinian Authority security forces raided the occupied West Bank city of Nablus to make arrests on Israel’s behalf.
The Israeli-backed PA forces entered Nablus on Monday night and arrested two Hamas resistance fighters “at Israel’s request,” according to Tel Aviv daily Haaretz. The two men are Musab Shtayyeh and Ameed Tubeileh.
Shtayyeh is reportedly associated with Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, a Palestinian resistance fighter killed in an Israeli attack in Nablus in August.
The arrests sparked confrontations between Palestinian residents and PA forces that lasted well into Tuesday afternoon.
Firas Faris Yaish, 53, was fatally shot in the head in the crossfire between resistance fighters and PA forces. Several others were wounded, including a college student who sustained a serious injury to the abdomen.
Local media circulated Yaish’s picture following his killing:Hamas held the PA “fully responsible” for Yaish’s killing, as well as collaborating with “the criminal policies of the occupation against our resistance fighters and heroes.” Other Palestinian political parties denounced the PA’s arrest of the two men.
The PA denied that its security forces were present at the scene where Yaish was shot.
Yaish was killed due to an “injury whose nature has not yet been determined, and we are awaiting a medical report,” said Talal Dweikat, the spokesman for PA forces.
Palestinian resistance fighters issued a recorded statement demanding the men’s immediate release.The fighters denied that Shtayyeh surrendered to the PA. They asserted that Shtayyeh had fired back at PA troops thinking they were Israeli special forces, but then laid down his weapon once he understood they were fellow Palestinians.
The Palestinian Authority appears to have deployed snipers into Nablus to quell protests against its attacks on Tuesday, according to images circulated by local media.The forces arrested Agence France-Presse photojournalist Saleh Hamad. Palestinian demonstrators threw stones at PA armored vehicles in scenes reminiscent of regular confrontations with Israeli occupation forces: The PA seems determined to demonstrate its utility to Israel amid growing fears that its power is waning in key areas of the West Bank.
Israeli leaders have expressed alarm that the Palestinian Authority is losing control over the pockets of the West Bank where Israel allows it to operate.
The PA’s overnight attack may be an effort to reassert control in the northern West Bank amid a resurgence of Palestinian armed resistance in Nablus and Jenin. It is also notable that US and European Union funding for PA forces has generally been contingent on them helping Israel quell Palestinian resistance.
PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is set to address the United Nations General Assembly next week, where he is expected to launch an appeal for full UN membership for Palestine.
Since the State of Palestine is already a member of key bodies, such as the International Criminal Court, this full membership would be a largely empty gesture.
But Abbas’ resort to this demand – a reprise of his “Blue Chair” campaign from a decade ago – indicates the PA’s desperation to appear as a defender of the Palestinian cause.
Abbas already met with Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, on the fringes of the UN this week. Lauder was also previously the chair of the Jewish National Fund USA, a body that raises money for Zionist colonization of Palestinian land.
Jordan’s King Abdullah met with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Tuesday and they discussed rising tensions in the occupied West Bank.
Lapid reportedly informed King Abdullah that with upcoming Jewish holidays, the number of Jewish Israelis visiting the al-Aqsa mosque compound might increase, and “that he expected the Jordanians to back them and prevent incitement,” according to Haaretz.
Israel has been working with Jordan to put pressure on Abbas to activate the Palestinian security forces in the northern West Bank and stop the escalation,” according to Israeli journalist Barak Ravid.
“The Jordanians also pressured Abbas not to promote a vote in the UN Security Council to accept Palestine as a full member state of the UN,” the journalist added.
The Palestinian Authority has since its creation in the mid-1990s maintained close cooperation with Israeli occupation forces under the banner of “security coordination.”
Regardless of what Abbas says in his upcoming speech, no amount of fist-brandishing at the UN will change the Palestinian Authority’s commitment to protect Israel’s settlers and serve Israel’s interests on the ground.