Palestinians reach truce to prevent violent clashes in West Bank city

Palestinians reach truce to prevent violent clashes in West Bank city

Palestinian security forces and militants agreed to a truce on Wednesday to end violent clashes in a West Bank town, local officials said. The violence highlighted a deep disenchantment with the internationally supported Palestinian leadership.

For now, the agreement to end the fighting eases tensions in the area, which on Tuesday was gripped by some of the fiercest antagonisms directed at the Palestinian Authority in years. But the truce failed to address the underlying and widespread opposition to Palestinian security coordination with Israel.

Clashes erupted after an arrest operation by Palestinian security against local militants. The two sides exchanged fire as angry villagers threw objects at an armored jeep and drove it away. A man was presumed dead. The violence was reminiscent of the way Palestinians normally protest Israeli troops.

The unrest in Nablus reflected the deep unpopularity of the Palestinian leadership, which is widely seen because of its security ties with Israel as consolidating Israel’s 55-year military occupation of the West Bank and its nearly 3 million people. It has also been plagued by corruption and has repeatedly postponed elections.

Israel Palestinians
Palestinian security forces clash with Palestinians following an arrest operation against local militants, in the West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday, September 20, 2022.

Nasser Nasser/AP

A semblance of normal life returned Wednesday to Nablus, known as the business capital of the West Bank. Shoppers walked around the rubble of the clashes as firefighters on top of cranes smashed broken glass from shop windows that surround the city’s main Martyrs Square. Palestinian security forces were deployed in armored vehicles in the center of the city.

A committee of Palestinian factions and other prominent figures said that under the truce, Palestinian security forces would stop arresting suspects wanted by Israel in the city unless they break Palestinian law. Authorities would discuss the release of one of the men arrested in the recent operation. They would also release Palestinians detained in Tuesday’s clashes unless they damaged property or looted.

The Palestinian Authority maintains close security ties with Israel and the two often collaborate against Islamist militants in the West Bank. Israel urged the Palestinian Authority to do more to contain militancy, especially in the months following a wave of deadly attacks against Israelis in the spring, which killed 19 people.

Instead, Israel intensified its own activity in the area, sending troops on nightly incursions into towns, cities and towns, rounding up hundreds of Palestinians and killing around 90 during that time. Israel says the vast majority of those killed were militants, while others were local youths killed while hurling rocks or firebombs at Israeli troops.

Any civilians were killed in violence, including a veteran Al Jazeera journalist and a lawyer who inadvertently drove into a battle zone. In May, 16-year-old Palestinian Ghaith Yamin was shot dead by Israeli soldiers during a clash that took place amid a Jewish pilgrimage to the West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry announced at the time.

The northern West Bank, including the areas around Nablus and Jenin, a city that has long been a bastion of armed struggle against Israel, were focal points in the attacks. The Palestinian Authority has less of a presence there and is viewed with deep suspicion because of its security ties to Israel.

That disenchantment, along with rising tensions generated by Israeli nighttime attacks, boiled over with clashes on Tuesday.

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Israeli police remove the body of Palestinian Musa Sarsour after he allegedly killed an 84-year-old Israeli woman and then hanged himself, in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Wednesday, September 21, 2022.

Oded Balilty / AP

Israel says the attacks aim to dismantle militant networks that threaten its citizens and that it makes every effort to avoid harming civilians. Palestinians say the incursions are aimed at maintaining Israel’s military dominance over territories they want for a future state – a dream that seems as remote as ever, with no serious peace talks held in more than a decade.

from Israel occupation of the West Bank is now in its 55th year, with no signs of ending anytime soon. Palestinians look to the entire West Bank, home to some 500,000 Israeli settlers, as the heart of a future independent state.

In Tel Aviv, police said they found Musa Sarsour, 28, a West Bank resident, hanged in central Tel Aviv, near a key business district, on Wednesday. Sarsour was suspected of killing an 84-year-old woman in a southern suburb of Tel Aviv on Tuesday. Citing officials, Israeli media reported Sarsour’s death as an apparent suicide, according to AFP.

Security camera footage, which captured the attack, showed the woman being repeatedly hit from behind and falling to the ground.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who was at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, called the murder a “shocking attack by a despicable and cowardly terrorist”.

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