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PA forces arrest 2 'top fugitives' in Jericho

Nov. 28, 2016 5:48 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 28, 2016 8:54 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces arrested two men described as “top fugitives” in Jericho on Sunday evening.

An official PA security source confirmed to Ma'an that two residents of the Nablus-area refugee camp of Balata -- identified as Muhammad al-Masmi, also known as al-Nus, and Mahmoud Abu Siris, also known as al-Lahlouh -- were arrested on Sunday evening in the central occupied West Bank.

The two men were wanted by the PA for “illegal activities,” as well as for having opened fire at Palestinian security forces on several occasions.

A security forces spokesman in Jericho, Nabil Taqatqa, said that al-Masmi and Abu Siris were unarmed when they were spotted in an industrial facility in northern Jericho, and were then surrounded and detained.

Meanwhile, armed men closed a road near Balata on Monday and seized an ambulance belonging to Palestinian military medical services, Nablus district governor Akram al-Rujoub told Ma’an.

Al-Rujoub added that Palestinian security forces were able to reopen the road small armed clashes with the gunmen. No injuries were reported on either side, and the governor said that the ambulance was later recovered.

The Nablus district -- and Balata in particular -- has been the site of violent clashes involving Palestinian security forces since a massive security crackdown was launched across the West Bank, which turned deadly in August when two policemen were killed during a raid in the Old City of Nablus to uncover weapons and make arrests.

The ensuing manhunt for the gunmen responsible left three suspects killed by Palestinian security forces, sparking international outrage over what the UN deemed “extrajudicial executions” -- particularly that of Ahmad Izz Halaweh, the alleged mastermind behind the police shooting, who was beaten to death in custody.

Amid the ongoing security crackdown, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has faced widespread criticism over the unclear circumstances in which some Palestinian fugitives have been arrested and killed, with prisoners’ rights group Addameer saying that “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

The crackdown also comes as Palestinian political factions have repeatedly accused the Fatah-dominated PA of “escalating security collaboration” with Israeli authorities and “adopting a revolving door policy" funneling Palestinians from PA jails into Israeli prisons.
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