Clashes broke out in the West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday after a rare operation by the Palestinian Authority security forces to arrest a Hamas member.
A 53-year-old bystander named Firas Yaish was reportedly killed in the crossfire, although the Palestinian health ministry had not yet verified the reports. An alleged tweet from Yaish’s relative Kawther claimed to be “mourning” Firas’s passing.
Numerous young people continued to throw rocks towards PA armored vehicles and there was shooting heard across the city center throughout the morning, according to AFP correspondents.
Musaab Shtayyeh, 30, was arrested, and Hamas, the secular Fatah faction that governs the PA, denounced the arrest, calling it a “kidnapping… a national crime” and a “stain” on the PA’s reputation.
It criticized the PA for continuing security coordination with Israel and called for Shtayyeh and Ameed Tbaileh’s immediate release.
“The authority has positioned itself as an exclusive agent of the occupation (Israel) in the face of our Palestinian people,” the statement said.
Even while Israel, which has held the West Bank since 1967, maintains security links with the Palestinian Authority, raids against Hamas militants are uncommon.
Despite numerous recent attempts at reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, tensions still exist. Since 2007, when Hamas drove out PA forces from the coastal outpost in bloody street warfare, the group has been in charge of Gaza.
In recent months, violence has become almost every day in the northern West Bank.
Israel has carried out numerous overnight raids in the region, particularly in Jenin, in an effort to find wanted people.
After a string of devastating attacks against Israeli sites in March, the raids that followed resulted in the deaths of dozens of Palestinians, including fighters.
The PA is under increasing pressure from Israel to take action against accused militants in the West Bank.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid declared last week that he would “not hesitate to act in any place that the Palestinian Authority does not maintain order” after violence near Jenin claimed the lives of two Palestinians and an Israeli soldier.
Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, head of the Israeli armed forces, claimed earlier this month that the “helplessness of the Palestinian Authority security forces” was creating favorable conditions for armed organizations.