VIDEO: PA official opens fire at Palestinian protesters in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM, West Bank - A Palestinian Authority official opened fire on Palestinian protesters on Sunday evening during an anti-PA protest in Bethlehem, occupied West Bank.
Demonstrations against the PA are rare in the West Bank, however tensions skyrocketed over the weekend after Middle East Eye published footage of PA police officers brutalising protesters on Friday.
The video spread rapidly across social media, sparking anti-PA protests on Saturday and again on Sunday, when a PA official in plain clothes, caught on camera again by MEE, opened fire with a hand gun on protesters in front of a PA intelligence compound.
The demonstration began in front of Dheisha Refugee Camp, where protesters began their march to the nearby compound chanting for President Mahmoud Abbas and the head of the PA police force to step down.
When marchers arrived in front of the intelligence building, they rallied together and gave speeches on a megaphone calling for unity and resistance against the PA.
Protesters then staged a sit-in that blocked traffic on the main road.
Eventually, a few protesters began throwing rocks, which heatedly split the crowd between those who wanted a peaceful rally, and those throwing rocks.
A few of the hurled rocks broke windows at the intelligence compound, prompting PA officials in plain clothes to come out of the building to confront protesters, which is when one plain-clothed official opened fire, and then walked back toward the PA compound.
Soon after uniformed PA forces exited the building, protesters scattered, and PA forces moved forward to detain the demonstrators.
A group of PA officials insisted two MEE reporters hand over their camera and footage of the event. When MEE refused they took one of the reporter's press credentials and attempted to detain him.
One journalist who stayed on the scene told MEE that PA officials had detained and taken most of the footage from the march and following incident.
No injuries have been reported and the number of detained civilians is still unknown.
Earlier on Sunday the PA announced disciplinary action against nine police officers who were involved in Friday’s attack on civilians.
Five of the officials were high-ranking officers who put on provisional retirement, according to local news agency, Ma’an News.
The other four officers were lower ranking, and sentenced to three months in prison and one year without promotion.
Friday’s incident caused a number of senior PA officials, including Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, to condemn the action. Hamdallah claimed that “what happened in the camp does not reflect the policy of the Palestinian government, or the Palestinian security forces.”
However, two of the teens, both brothers and sons of a PA police officer, caught on tape being beaten by PA forces disagreed.
“This time [on camera] was crazier than normal, but maybe not. Maybe just because this was caught on video it seems so, but we see PA forces and we hear stories all the time about things like this happening,” 16-year-old Mahmoud Hamamra told MEE on Saturday.