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As unrest in West Bank’s Jenin rises, governor vows to restore order

City has boiled in recent months, with illegal weapons spreading, says PA governor; Israeli forces entering Jenin have seen repeated gun battles over the past few months

Mourners carry the body of Osama Subh, a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad killed by Israeli soldiers during a gun battle near Jenin, during his funeral in the village of Burqin in the northern West Bank on September 26, 2021. (JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)
Mourners carry the body of Osama Subh, a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad killed by Israeli soldiers during a gun battle near Jenin, during his funeral in the village of Burqin in the northern West Bank on September 26, 2021. (JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)

Unidentified Palestinian gunmen fired on the Jenin municipality building on Thursday, the latest in a string of violent incidents to hit the northern West Bank city.

The incident came as Jenin’s governor told The Times of Israel this week that he would bring back order in the area.

“Under the slogan of ‘law and order,’ security forces will pursue all negative forces in the province,” Akram Rajoub said during a phone call.

Jenin has seen repeated violent incidents in recent months, and Palestinian Authority security forces have vowed to crack down on the perpetrators. The city is widely seen as a hotbed of activity for the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups.

According to Rajoub, illegal weapons have spread widely in the area and shootings have also increased. In response, Ramallah has launched an operation to restore law and order in the camp, Rajoub said.

Israeli soldiers entering the area to conduct arrests have also repeatedly been met with gunfire. In late September, Islamic Jihad member Osama Soboh was killed during a shootout with Israeli troops near Jenin. Another four Palestinians, including two members of the PA security forces, were killed during a gun battle with Israeli soldiers in August.

“Israel continues to impede our security activities. When soldiers enter to conduct arrests and shoot and kill Palestinians, this hampers our security activities,” Rajoub said.

But on Friday, when Palestinian Authority security forces entered Jenin Refugee Camp — which lies in the heart of the city — they were also met with stone-throwing by local residents.

Akram Rajoub, who serves as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Jenin governor (Credit: WAFA)

PA forces have detained suspects across the governorate as part of the ongoing operation, although precise statistics have not been publicized.

“The security forces will fulfill their missions, and security and stability will soon return to Jenin,” Rajoub said.

Rajoub insisted that the arrests were not necessarily directed against Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but against “those who violate the law.”

“But if Hamas thinks that they can act in such a manner — they are sorely mistaken. No disturbance to law and order will be allowed in Jenin, neither by them nor by others,” Rajoub said.

The city has recently seen shows of widespread support for the terror groups.

Thousands of Palestinians held a mass funeral in Jenin in early November for Hamas official Wasfi Qabha, a former PA minister who had died from coronavirus. The ceremony saw green Hamas flags flutter through the heart of Jenin, as mourners marched from the city’s Great Mosque to the refugee camp’s burial ground.

In the aftermath of the incident, PA President Mahmoud Abbas transferred the commanding officers in the Jenin PA security forces to other West Bank enclaves. Many speculated that Ramallah had been peeved that their Hamas rivals had been allowed to go forward with the event.

Rajoub denied that the matters were connected. “The Qabha funeral was not the main driver. [The reassignment] had been discussed by the security establishment for the past two months,” he said.

The Palestinian Authority, which has limited self-rule in enclaves across the West Bank, is dominated by the nationalist Fatah movement. Fatah and Hamas have long fought one another; a bloody 2007 civil war between the two parties saw Hamas expel their rivals from the Gaza Strip.

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