On Sunday, Israeli security personnel engaged in a shootout with terrorists in the West Bank city of Nablus, killing two armed Palestinians. The Israeli raid was a response to an increase in attacks emerging from the vicinity, perpetrated both by splinter factions within the ruling Fatah party and by rival groups outside it. Khaled Abu Toameh explains:
The presence of the gunmen on the streets in the Nablus and Jenin areas underscores the weakness of the Palestinian Authority (PA), whose leaders are aware that there’s little they can do to disarm the armed groups and individuals.
The Palestinian public, meanwhile, continues to view the gunmen as “heroes” who are ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause. They are regarded as the defenders of the people, while the PA leaders and security forces are denounced as corrupt “traitors” and “collaborators” with Israel.
Many Palestinians, meanwhile, are disturbed by the presence and activities of the gunmen, who they say are replacing the PA security forces as law-enforcers. “There’s a feeling that the Palestinian Authority is no longer in control,” said a Palestinian academic from Ramallah. “There are too many armed men and thugs who are acting as if they are in charge.” The PA is both afraid and unwilling to deal with the gunmen, he said.
In recent weeks, many Palestinians have complained about scenes of anarchy and lawlessness, especially in the Jenin and Nablus areas, where a number of Palestinians were shot and injured in several attacks there. Earlier this week, unidentified gunmen shot and injured a retired [PA] security officer and his son in Nablus. Last Friday, gunmen shot and injured Nasser al-Shaer, a Nablus academic who previously served as deputy prime minister in the PA government.