By Ali Sawafta and Nidal al-Mughrabi
Nablus, West Bank (Reuters) – Palestinian gunmen clashed with Palestinian Authority security forces in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday and a man was killed in the clashes, which erupted after the arrest of two militants, local authorities said. said witnesses and doctors.
The Islamist armed group Hamas, a rival to the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA), said the PA had arrested one of its senior officials wanted by Israel and another gunman, in the city of Nablus .
There was no immediate comment from the PA, which has been criticized by Israel and the US for not doing enough to contain the gunmen in militant strongholds such as Nablus and nearby Jenin. .
Clashes erupted in the two towns overnight. Shots were fired at the PA headquarters in Jenin, witnesses said. Shops closed and An-Najah National University asked students to stay home.
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Witnesses said Palestinian Authority police fired tear gas at youths while throwing stones. It was not immediately clear whether the 53-year-old man killed in the clashes had been hit by the PA or militant fire.
Violence in the West Bank has increased in recent months after Israel stepped up its raids into the territory following a series of deadly Palestinian street attacks in Israel.
PA leaders have said Israeli incursions are weakening its power, while Israel says it must operate there to prevent further attacks and has demanded that the PA crack down on militants.
US-sponsored Palestinian statehood talks with Israel collapsed in 2014. Since then, the PA’s domestic credibility has waned, while Hamas leaders regularly call on West Bank militants to intensify attacks on Israel.
The Palestinian Authority has limited autonomy in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Hamas rules Gaza, which it seized from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah in a brief civil war in 2007.
“The Palestinian Authority has positioned itself as the exclusive agent of the (Israeli) occupation against our Palestinian people,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.
The AP has not commented on the latest violence. He has previously dismissed such allegations and in turn accuses Hamas of trying to incite the public against him to weaken him.
(Reporting by Ali Sawafta. Additional reporting and writing by Nidal Almughrabi; Editing by Alison Williams)
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