Amidst the heaviest Israeli military invasion of the West Bank since the Second Intifada, another 2 Palestinians were killed over Sunday night. In Nablus’ al-Ein refugee camp, 27 year old Ahmad Khalid was shot dead, and in Ramallah, 30 year old Mahmoud Tarifi was killed as people attempted to resist an IOF invasion that saw a huge military presence fill the city centre. According to the Palestinian Prisoners Society more than 500 people have been arrested by Israel in the current military operation.
During the attacks on Ramallah the IOF stationed themselves outside the central Palestinian Authority police station as they invaded the city and shot at local youth who were resisting the operation. This choice of location was clearly strategic as Israel aimed to reiterate, to the Palestinian street, the inaction of Palestinian security services during Israeli military invasions under the Israeli-PA ‘security coordination’ policies.
Expressing their anger at the total lack of support and defense from PA security services amidst the Israeli military invasion, Palestinian youth threw stones at the police station after the IOF withdrew from the city. Having refused to raise a weapon is defense of Palestinian youth, the PA security forces then began to shoot from the balconies of the police station to repel the youth. Some reports state that the PA were shooting in to the air and not directly at the youth.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas last week defended the PA-Israeli security coordination polices which brought understandable anger from the Palestinian street. Amongst other Palestinian political figures denouncing Abbas’ words and actions, Hanin Zoabi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, called the PA-Israeli security coordination a betrayal of the Palestinian people and the national cause.
On Monday 23rd June, the day after the attacks on Ramallah, Palestinian youth activists staged a demonstration against security coordination. Beginning in Ramallah’s clock square, about 200 hundred activists marched through the city calling for an end to security coordination and in defense of the hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners. The route of the demonstration was intended to pass through the city and then away from Ramallah to the Israeli settlement of Beit El, although activists knew that this was unlikely to happen. True to form, when the demonstration reached the main road towards the settlement it was met by reinforced lines of Palestinian Authority riot police blocking the road armed with riot shields and batons. The protest against security coordination was halted in its tracks, by yet more security coordination.
Protesters chanted against the security policies and later sung the Palestinian national anthem whilst waving Palestinian flags, but made no attempt to break police lines and create a violent confrontation. The police similarly did not react violently, and many looked embarrassed or even ashamed at enforcing these policies. Many Palestinians who today work at the lower levels of the PA security services have themselves been activists within the Palestinian struggle; today they are pawns being used by the PA within a much wider game in which Mahmoud Abbas attempts to retain his power by acquiescing to the demands of Israel, supported by the international community who fund the PA security services.