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Deadly clashes erupt in Nablus after arrest of Hamas members


RAMALLAH: One man was killed when clashes broke out overnight in the northern West Bank city of Nablus after the arrest of two Hamas members by Palestinian security forces.

The 53-year-old man was killed in an exchange of gunfire between officers and Palestinian activists, a hospital in the city said.

It was initially unclear whether the man was a bystander or involved in the fighting. Video footage showed a Palestinian police vehicle being pelted with rocks.

The tensions erupted following the arrest of two members of Hamas late on Monday. One of them was a local leader who was also wanted by Israel.

The Palestinian security operation came after the Israeli army accused the Palestinians of not taking effective action against activists in the autonomous cities of Nablus and Jenin. Israel is on high alert as the Jewish new year holiday of Rosh Hashanah begins on Sunday evening.

Meanwhile, a statement from the security forces confirmed the death of bystander Firas Yaish and said they were “waiting for a medical report,” on the circumstances of his killing.

He was killed “in a place where no security personnel were present,” forces spokesman Talal Dweikat said in a statement.

Unrest persisted through the morning, with hundreds of youths hurling rocks at PA armoured vehicles and the sound of gunfire ringing out across the city centre, AFP correspondents reported.

Ahmed, 26, a protester who declined to give his family name citing personal security concerns, said the protesters’ anger was fuelled by “security coordination between the PA and the occupation (Israel).” Hamas condemned the arrest of 30-year-old Musaab Shtayyeh, calling it a “kidnapping... a national crime” and a “stain” on the PA’s image.

It demanded the immediate release of Shtayyeh and Ameed Tbaileh, who was arrested with him, and blasted the PA for keeping up security coordination.

“The authority has positioned itself as an exclusive agent of the occupation (Israel) in the face of our Palestinian people,” the statement said. — dpa/AFP

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