West Bank on verge of chaos

Palestinian leaders have warned that the West Bank is on the verge of unprecedented chaos, as thousands of demonstrators showed support for fighters who attacked the offices of the security services and the local governor.

    West Bank Governor Qaddura Musa's office was torched

    Prime Minister Ahmad Quraya said on Sunday it was vital  Palestinians unite to prevent the kind of chaos seen in Gaza in July - which had led him to submit his resignation - from spreading to the West Bank.


    "We, the Palestinian people, must stand united in condemning this chaos in the same manner that we deterred the chaos that took place in Gaza," he said in an interview published in Sunday's Al-Quds daily.


    "If this chaos reaches the West Bank, then we will be on the verge of an unprecedented and unacceptable disaster," he said.


    Meeting disturbed


    Fighters backing Arafat blocked
    meeting in Nablus

    Amidst the concerns in continuing unrest, about 20 fighters of Fatah's al-Awda Brigades opened fire on Sunday to break up a meeting entitled "A call for reform and ending corruption" in West Bank's Nablus city, reported our correspondent.  


    The meeting of a group of members of Fatah in the Governorate building was about to start when fighters of the al-Awda Brigades started shooting heavily, spreading fear and tension in the assembly.


    Abu Jihad, an al-Awda Brigades official, told reporters the meeting had been blocked as it was actually against Arafat and not against corruption, as was made out to be. 



    In Janin, about 5000 people took to the streets on Sunday, in the northern West Bank, in support of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades after its followers torched the local offices of the security services and the 

    district governor over the weekend. 



    Zubaidi said the security offices
    were 'cooperating' with Israel

    Dozens of fighters fired into the air, pledging support for the powerful local leader of the Brigades, Zakaria Zubaidi.


    "Anyone touches him [Zubaidi], we will kill him. Anyone who touches him is a collaborator," the crowd chanted in unison.


    Zubaidi justified Saturday's arson attack on the security services by charging its officers were "cooperating" with Israel's Shin Beth domestic intelligence service to wipe out members of his organisation.




    Television footage broadcast over the weekend also showed Al-Aqsa fighters, their faces uncovered, ransacking the offices of governor Qaddura Musa and tearing down portraits of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat from the walls to throw them in the fire.


    "We completely reject this kind of chaos in Janin or in any place"

    Saib Uraiqat,
    negotiations minister, Palestinian Authority

    Al-Aqsa has traditionally been loyal to Arafat, but has become increasingly frustrated at what it sees as widespread corruption within both the Palestinian Authority and Arafat's Fatah movement.


    Further signs of the developing chaos were seen in the nearby city of Nablus on Sunday when fighters from al-Awda, another armed group loyal to Arafat, fired into the air as a show of strength outside a Fatah meeting.


    Three foreigners were also briefly held hostage on Friday night in Nablus.


    Palestinian negotiations minister Saib Uraiqat said the unrest was undermining the national cause.


    "We completely reject this kind of chaos in Janin or in any place," he said.


    "We need to maintain and protect our national unity and we need to work out solutions to all problems through national dialogue involving everybody under the rule of law,"  he said.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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