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Security gaps in Tulkarem after shot fired

April 27, 2011 1:16 P.M. (Updated: April 28, 2011 6:11 P.M.)
TULKAREM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces informed PA security in Tulkarem that they should step back from the city as soldiers enter the area for "ongoing security activity" Wednesday, following an incident of PA fire nearby an Israeli patrol yesterday.

According to Palestinian sources, an Israeli guard showed his middle finger to a PA security officer as the two passed in a rare occurrence, prompting a PA officer to fire a single shot into the air in protest of the gesture.

The forces rarely encounter each other, as PA forces maintain the rule of law in Tulkarem unless Israeli forces contact local officials and inform them that a military operation will be carried out. On the orders, PA forces withdraw.

PA sources said they had not been informed that Israeli patrols would be active in the area when the incident occurred on Tuesday.

Following the single shot, which Tulkarem Mayor Dalal Dweikat had earlier characterized as a misfire, Israeli forces ordered the PA officers off the streets, security sources told Ma'an.

Soldiers re-entered Tulkarem overnight, amid what witnesses said was heavy gunfire, but appeared to withdraw shortly afterward.

There has been no indication to PA forces, however, that they can re-enter the town and continue their work.

The security vacuum has already lead to low-level disruptions, with witnesses saying a group of unknown assailants opened fire on the home of local school director Rasem As-Sa’ed causing damages but no injuries.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed that border police had been carrying out an "operational activity" late Wednesday, and responded to reports of a single gunshot, noting that the incident was being investigated.

She said any activity in Tulkarem overnight was not carried out by Israeli military forces. A border police spokesman said he was not immediately familiar with the incident and would look into the report.

Palestinian security officials say they remain under order to stay out of the city, and have been unable to respond to reports of lawbreaking and violence.
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