Palestinians protest Palestinian Authority's 'political arrests' in Jenin

Palestinians protest Palestinian Authority's 'political arrests' in Jenin
Palestinians in Jenin and other occupied West Bank cities marched to protest arrests by the Palestinian Authority amidst calls from across the board to end political arrests.
3 min read
West Bank
18 July, 2023
Protesters demanded the release of Palestinians from the Jenin camp, detained by the Palestinian Authority. [Qassam Muaddi/TNA]

Hundreds of Palestinians marched in Jenin late Monday, protesting the Palestinian Authority's detention of several Palestinians for political reasons. The marches came in response to a call by the Jenin Brigade, the leading Palestinian armed resistance group in the Jenin refugee camp.

Earlier in the day, the Brigade accused the PA, in a statement, of breaking a deal by not releasing two of its members, previously detained by the Palestinian security forces, after the visit of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Jenin last Wednesday.

According to the Brigade's statement, it had accepted a request by the PA to maintain calm in Jenin during Abbas's visit on the condition that the PA would release two detained Brigade members after the visit.

"We consider the PA's arrests of our fighters a stain of shame, as the efforts of the PA's security forces meet the efforts of the occupation in persecuting freedom fighters", read the Brigade's statement.

"These arrests will achieve nothing except threatening the social and national fabric", went on the statement, calling Palestinians to protest.

For its side, the spokesperson for Palestinian security forces, Talal Dweikat, denied the existence of political detentions in the PA's jails. Dweikat argued that the two men detained in Jenin were arrested on criminal accusations, not political ones.

The PA's governor of Jenin, Akram Rujoub, also denied the accusations of political detentions and said those arrested had attacked the Palestinian police station.

At the march in the Jenin camp, armed fighters denied the governor's accusations. "Did our comrades leave the detention centre to attack the police station and then go back to their cells?" one-armed fighter said in front of the crowd. "Because the attack on the police station happened after the detention of our comrades", he went on.

Present at the protest, Jamal Hweil, a member of the general assembly of Fatah (Fatah's Revolutionary Council), the faction whose leadership runs the PA, showed his support for the fighters' demands while denying his knowledge of the supposed deal between the Jenin Brigade and the PA.

These young men have spoken with a sense of responsibility, cautious of maintaining our national unity between all camp affiliations, " said Hweil.

"I call on our security forces and on President Abbas directly, with all respect, to let the boys go free", added the renowned former fighter of the battle of Jenin in 2002.

The protest came hours after the PA security forces arrested several Palestinians in the Jenin area, thought to be affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad - PIJ. The movement accused the PA of cracking down on its members on Sunday and called on the PA to release them.

Similar calls to the PA to stop 'political arrests' were voiced across the Palestinian political board, including spokespersons for the PFLP and Hamas.

The tensions over political arrests by the PA arrive less than two weeks before the announced meeting of the Secretaries-General of Palestinian factions in Cairo, scheduled on July 30.

The meeting, called on by Egypt, is the latest in a series of attempts to overcome Palestinian political divisions, the last of which was held between representatives of Fatah and Hamas in Algeria in October of last year.