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Local elections in Nablus postponed after 'extrajudicial execution' by Palestinian police

Aug. 24, 2016 9:55 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 29, 2016 4:54 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma’an) -- Political factions and institutions in the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus have decided to postpone municipal elections set to take place in October in the wake of violent confrontations between armed groups and Palestinian security forces which culminated in the brutal killing of one suspect while in police custody.

According to Palestinian official sources, a meeting was held by the Palestine Liberation Organization and other Palestinian officials in Nablus to discuss recent developments in the city, and a decision to postpone the elections in the city -- and not the entire Nablus district -- was taken unanimously.

The sources added that a letter would be sent to Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah for him to approve the decision.

Meanwhile, parliamentary blocs of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) demanded on Wednesday that a committee of parliamentary representatives investigate the death of Ahmad Izz Halaweh, reportedly the most prominent Nablus-area leader of Fatah's military wing the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, who was beaten to death by police officers on Tuesday.

The PLC members called for an end to Palestinian security forces’ extrajudicial procedures, the prosecution of Halaweh’s killers, and for the maintenance of calm and law enforcement in Palestinian society.

Halaweh, the main suspect in a shooting by several gunmen last week which left two Palestinian policemen dead, was arrested during predawn raids in the Old City of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank on Tuesday and taken to the Juneid security compound, where he was killed by security officers.

Halaweh was the third civilian to be killed by Palestinian security officers following Thursday’s shooting.

Two were shot dead on Friday during raids in the Old City, three more suspects were arrested on Sunday, while Palestinian authorities claimed five further suspects remained at large.

Nablus governor Akram Rujoub released a statement on Wednesday to hail the policemen “who fell martyrs while performing their national duties” in Nablus, and said that Palestinian security forces were trying “to bring to an end the phenomenon of security chaos and outlaws.”

Rujoub added that security was “a sacred duty of the Palestinian security organization, and weapon possession is a monopoly for Palestinian security services.”

Regarding Halaweh’s death, Rujoub called the case an “unacceptable mistake and abnormal behavior which has already been denounced at the highest political and security levels,” and said that he was committed to transparency regarding the killing.

“We should be transparent with our people, even if the truth is shocking,” Rujoub said.

The United Nations and Palestinian factions from across the political spectrum reacted with outrage over Halaweh’s death, with the UN denouncing the killing as an “apparent extrajudicial execution.”

Halaweh’s death has further exposed growing discomfort within Palestinian society regarding the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority and Palestinian security forces, which have long been accused by some political factions of misconduct and coordination with Israel.
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