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PA forces disperse Palestinian protest in Bethlehem

Sept. 20, 2015 9:19 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 21, 2015 12:28 P.M.)
Palestinians from Duheisha refugee camp in Bethlehem take part in a protest against excessive use of force by PA security forces. (MaanImages)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Authority security forces on Sunday dispersed a march near al-Duheisha refugee camp in Bethlehem that was called to protest an excessive use of force by PA forces last week.

A Ma'an reporter said that up to 300 Palestinians took part in the march, which began at the entrance to the refugee camp before making its way to a nearby PA intelligence building.

Protesters reportedly chanted slogans against President Mahmoud Abbas and the PA.

The march was called after PA security forces on Friday violently attacked three teenage Palestinians from al-Azza refugee camp, also in Bethlehem.

The attack, which was caught on camera by online news site Middle East Eye, came during a peaceful rally, and led to sharp criticism from Palestinians of the officers' excessive use of force.

Protesters at Sunday's march attempted to stage a sit-in in front of the intelligence building.

While a number of the protesters urged a refrain from violence, others threw stones at the building, smashing one of its windows.

Security officers then emerged from the building and a plain-clothes officer reportedly opened fire using a handgun, leading to the dispersal of the protest.

There were no reports of injuries.

Up to 300 Palestinians took part in the protest. (MaanImages)

A high-ranking Fatah official, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "We agreed with factions and powers not to participate in these marches where some people chanted against the president."

Referring to violence from protesters, he added: "We think there are sides like Israel who might want to plant disturbances and benefit from them."

He said that because of this, members of the Fatah movement in Bethlehem were "on alert."

The PA announced earlier Sunday that nine PA officers, including five high-ranking officers, would face disciplinary action over Friday's attack.

Adnan Dmeiri, chief spokesman for the PA security forces, has said that the three teenagers will receive justice, noting that in 2014, PA officers were punished with imprisonment and disciplinary service after they were found guilty of violence against Palestinian citizens.

The head of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Right, Farid al-Atrash, has also urged the PA to investigate the attacks.

"As a Palestinian, I say that the president should immediately apologize to our people in the Azza Refugee Camp and should give orders to call to account those who gave the orders," he said.
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