Violence broke out today when Palestinian Authority security forces entered the city of Nablus in northern Samaria to arrest Hamas member Musab Shtayyeh and two others, and were met with resistance from local factions, with a gunfight erupting in the streets.
The fighting began late Monday night when P.A. security forces reportedly shot dead 53-year-old Firas Yaish, and then employed gunfire, tear gas and other crowd-control measures to try stop the violent riots.
According to Palestinian media reports, four others were injured, including one Anas Abdel-Fattah. On Tuesday, reports noted that a member of the P.A. security forces was killed.
Videos of guns being fired and crowds marching in the streets have appeared on social media, and militants in Nablus called for a general strike, saying they will not allow P.A. security forces to enter the city if the recent detainee, Shtayyeh, is not released.
The media also reported that the Nablus-based Radio Hayat FM will be off-the-air in order to assure the safety of the broadcasters. An-Najah National University and the Nablus Municipality will operate remotely on Tuesday.
Shtayyeh was an associate of Fatah militant Ibrahim Nabulsi, who was dubbed “the Lion of Nablus” as a member of Fatah’s armed wing and the commander of its Nablus brigade. IDF security forces killed Nabulsi last month when he resisted arrest.
The P.A.’s arrests come in the midst of Israel’s “Break the Wave” security operation, which has seen more than 1,500 Palestinians arrested so far. The counterterrorism operation was launched as the result of a string of fatal attacks on Israelis earlier this year.
Particular points of tension have been Nablus and Jenin, where Palestinian groups such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Fatah are taking over the streets and pushing out P.A. security forces.
A show of force by the P.A. against radical members of Palestinian society would appear to be a response to criticism from Israel that the P.A. has not been able to shut down violent attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.
The Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Hamas all condemned the P.A.’s arrest of Shtayyeh and a second Hamas general, labeling the arrests as being “in the service of the Israeli occupation” and called for continued “resistance” by Palestinians.
Another point of tension is in the northern Samaria town of Hawara, adjacent to the main road that leads to nearby Israeli settlements. In recent months, Palestinians have thrown stones and shot at passing cars. Such a clash flared up between settlers and local Palestinians along the road on Monday.