Palestinian killed in rare clash between gunmen and PA security forces

Gun battle erupts in Tulkarem after Palestinian officers remove barricades set up by armed groups in refugee camp

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Palestinian gunmen clash with PA security forces in the West Bank city of Tulkarem, August 30, 2023. (Screenshot: X)
Palestinian gunmen clash with PA security forces in the West Bank city of Tulkarem, August 30, 2023. (Screenshot: X)

A Palestinian man was shot dead during rare clashes between gunmen and members of the Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank city of Tulkarem on Wednesday.

The clashes were sparked after PA security forces entered Tulkarem to remove barricades set up by gunmen in an adjacent refugee camp, aimed at impeding Israel Defense Force troops who carry out regular arrest raids.

Over the past year, Palestinian terror groups have asserted control of various refugee camps across the West Bank, setting up roadblocks and planting roadside bombs to prevent Israeli forces from entering.

The Reuters news agency reported that the PA said residents had complained that the barricades endangered passersby and a nearby school.

Palestinian media said 25-year-old Abdel Qader Zakdah was fatally shot and several others were wounded during the clashes that ensued in the Tulkarem Camp.

It was unclear if Zakdah was directly involved in the clashes, and he was not claimed as a member of any of the armed groups that are based in Tulkarem.

Reuters cited Talal Dweikat, a spokesperson for PA security services, as saying that after the forces removed the obstacles from the Tulkarem camp, local gunmen opened fire at a building housing the Tulkarem governate, “prompting security forces to intervene, taking necessary measures to restore order.”

Palestinian media outlets circulated a video of a group of gunmen — unmasked, somewhat unusually — accusing the PA of killing Zakdah.

“We will not keep silent at this act, which aids the occupation forces in arresting and chasing the youths and those [on Israel’s] wanted list,” one of the gunmen said, according to Reuters.

The Hamas terror group also denounced the killing, saying in a statement that it was “a serious crime against security and civil peace in the West Bank.”

Violence has surged across the West Bank over the past year and a half, with a rise in Palestinian shooting attacks against Israeli civilians and troops, near-nightly arrest raids by the military, and an uptick in revenge attacks by extremist Jewish settlers against Palestinians.

In September 2022, PA security forces killed a Palestinian bystander during clashes with protesters in Nablus, following the arrest of two members of Hamas, allegedly at Israel’s request.

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