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Palestinian security forces suppress Hizb al-Tahrir march in Hebron

Feb. 25, 2017 3:56 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 27, 2017 8:24 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Palestinian security forces suppressed a rally in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Saturday that was organized by the Hizb al-Tahrir organization, and detained several members of the group after firing tear gas and allegedly assaulting protesters.

Security forces declared the Ibn Rush Square in the center of Hebron a “closed military zone,” and prevented citizens from accessing the area.

Hizb al-Tahrir organized the rally in order to protest the detention of 15 of the group’s supporters who were arrested last week during another demonstration in Hebron.

Palestinian police were redeployed throughout the streets of Hebron after dispersing the rally.

Director of the Hebron office of the Independent Commission for Human Rights Farid al-Atrash condemned Palestinian police for using force against peaceful demonstrators, calling the "assault" a "violation on the right of citizens to assemble peacefully."

"Tear gas was used, live gunshots were fired into the air, and citizens were assaulted with rods," he added, while urging Palestinian forces to "observe the law and respect citizens’ right to assemble peacefully."

Security officials in Hebron released a statement later on Saturday warning that "security forces will not allow anybody to arouse unrest in Hebron or muddle the state of security and safety in the district."

The statement said that a number of Hizb al-Tahrir supporters along with "fugitives wanted by security services" had started the "unlicensed rally."

Hizb al-Tahrir -- a pan-Islamic political organization with the goal of uniting all Muslims into one state with an elected Caliph as its head -- was founded in Jerusalem in 1953.

The group has had a vocal presence in the occupied Palestinian territory since and believes that the establishment of an Islamic caliphate would end Israeli military occupation.

Hizb al-Tahrir notably rejects the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s support of a two-state solution establishing a state of Palestine in the occupied West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Musab Abu Arqub, a senior leader in the group, told Ma’an last year that the group rejected negotiations with Israel on the grounds that they “give the occupation legitimacy,” adding that acceptance of a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders would be “a crime,” regardless of who made the decision.

The group has typically carried out its mission through public addresses, hanging posters, and releasing statements, but its vocal criticism of Palestinian political parties has in the past led to the arrest of Hizb al-Tahrir supporters by Palestinian forces.

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