Intense clashes erupted in three refugee camps Tuesday night between Palestinian youths and Palestinian Authority security forces, after a protest over the recent expulsion from the Fatah party of a Palestinian lawmaker was suppressed.
At least two people were wounded from reported live fire during the clashes, which took place in the refugee camps of al-Amari, near Ramallah, Balata, near Nablus, and Jenin.
The clashes began when PA security refused to allow a protest in support of Jihad Tummaleh, who was expelled from the Fatah party on Saturday by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, near Tummaleh’s home in the al-Amari refugee camp.
Tummaleh’s expulsion came after he organized a conference at al-Amari in support of “party unity.” The event was viewed by some in Ramallah as an effort to urge reconciliation between Abbas and his chief political rival Mohammad Dahlan.
Tummaleh first entered the Palestinian parliament in 2006 as a regional representative of Ramallah and El Bireh. He came in second only to the popular Marwan Barghouti in the regional primary vote. Barghouti, considered by many Palestinians a favored successor to Abbas for the PA presidency, is currently serving multiple life terms in an Israeli prison for murder and terrorism.
Fatah has offered no formal explanation for Tummaleh’s expulsion Saturday, but the move was recommended by the “Tajannuh,” or Anti-Delinquency Committee, which has been used in the past to move against Dahlan supporters.
It was not immediately clear if the simultaneous clashes in Jenin and Nablus were directly related to the events in Ramallah.
The Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported large forces were deployed in the al-Amari camp to prevent Tummaleh supporters from leaving the area.
Images on Palestinian social media showed Tummaleh among his supports during the protest.
— Pal.Info.Center (@PalinfoAr) October 25, 2016
PA security forces also arrested Tuesday night the official spokesperson of Fatah in Jerusalem, Rafat Alayan, who had earlier participated in a rally in support of Tummaleh.
عائلة عليان:عناصر الوقائي اعتقلوا الناطق باسم فتح بالقدس رأفت عليان بطريقة وحشية تم فيها الاعتداء،ونؤكد أن الاعتقال جاء بقرار من الرئيس عباس pic.twitter.com/qZVQy9HUY8
— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) October 25, 2016
Dahlan, who was one of Fatah’s most prominent leaders and is seen as another possible successor to Abbas, was kicked out of the Gaza Strip in 2011 after a feud with Abbas.
The PA president has even hinted that Dahlan, who currently resides in the UAE but maintains close ties with supporters in Gaza and the West Bank, may have poisoned the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 2004.
Arab leaders, especially in the so-called Arab Quartet of Jordan, Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, have recently pressured Abbas to patch up differences within Fatah and make peace with Dahlan.
Abbas has so far been unwilling to welcome Dahlan back to the fold, and even uncharacteristically lashed out against “the [Arab] capitals” in September, saying, “no one will dictate to us any position or idea.”