Palestinian Authority struggles to crack down on lawlessness in Jenin, Hebron

Citizens of Hebron appeal to Jordan to send troops; Jenin refugee camp residents clash with PA security forces.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

Palestinian security forces entered the Jenin refugee camp to arrest criminals and seize weapons in an operation expected to last weeks.
The camp is widely regarded as a hotbed of armed groups supporting Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Fatah.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the move came in the wake of the funeral of Jenin’s senior Hamas figure, Wasfi Kabaha last week. It was attended by thousands of Palestinians, including openly armed Hamas and PIJ gunmen and widely regarded as a challenge to Abbas’s authority.

Abbas dismissed all the PA security commanders in the Jenin area.

The PA’s operation in the camp began on Friday night, resulting in clashes. The Post described masked gunmen firing on PA security forces while residents threw stones. Gunmen went on to attack the headquarters of the PA security services in Jenin. To the PA’s embarrassment, no arrests were made.

Around 14,000 Palestinians live in the UNRWA-administered camp.

The Post added that lawlessness has spread to Hebron as a result of two large clans have clashed in the streets for several weeks. At one point, much of the city lost electricity for several hours when a power plant was hit gunfire. The paper also reported that Hebron residents even took the unprecedented step of appealing to Jordan’s King Abdullah to send troops to bring calm.

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Israeli officials are keeping tabs on the PA operations in Jenin and Hebron, but are not taking any active involvement, Ynet reported.

“The appeal to Jordan’s King Abdullah aims to send a warning to the Palestinian Authority,” said Ahmad Ja’bari, a businessman from Hebron quoted by the Post. “The people of Hebron want to embarrass the Palestinian Authority because it is not doing anything to protect them and their properties. The feeling here is that the Palestinian Authority is not interested in enforcing law and order, because many of the gangsters are affiliated with its ruling Fatah faction.”