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Palestinian intelligence arrests 'fugitive' from Balata refugee camp

Jan. 15, 2017 10:13 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 15, 2017 6:26 P.M.)
(File)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian general intelligence service said on Sunday morning that it had arrested a fugitive from the Balata refugee camp east of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank.

A security source told Ma'an that general intelligence officers ambushed 30-year-old Omar Abu Leil near Nablus municipality's butchery and detained him. Officers surrounded Abu Leil's vehicle, and when he tried to speed away, they fired gunshots at the vehicle "without harming him."

The suspect was accused of committing shooting attacks on Palestinian security officers among other charges, according to the security source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Following the arrest, locals took to the street and burned used tires in protest.

Balata refugee camp has been a site of violent clashes between Palestinian security forces and residents of the camp since a massive security crackdown was launched across the West Bank, which turned deadly last August, after two policemen were killed during a raid into the Old City in 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,” particular after one detainee was beaten to death in police custody.

Last month Palestinian forces also shot dead an alleged Palestinian gunman in Nablus, while three others were also injured. While Palestinian forces had claimed the men opened fire on them, forcing them to respond, others have claimed the four were unarmed at the time of the incident and were surveilling the Palestinian police while they carried out a detention raid.

Amid the ongoing security crackdown, the PA has faced widespread criticism over the unclear circumstances in which 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.

The Israeli army’s central command said that the Palestinian security forces were responsible for approximately 40 percent of all arrests of “suspected terrorists,” Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported last May.

Meanwhile, the densely populated Balata refugee camp has historically shown high levels of unemployment, overcrowded classrooms, and a lack of basic services such as access to clean water and effective sewage systems, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

The camp was established by the United Nations in 1950 to provide housing and services to refugees resulting from the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, which forced more than 700,000 Palestinians to flee their homes.
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