Palestinian forces scuffle with Hamas protesters in West Bank

A Palestinian uses a slingshot to hurl stones near the Hawara checkpoint south of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus on Friday. — AFP

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian security forces scuffled with Hamas supporters as they broke up a protest on Friday in the West Bank city of Hebron, witnesses and police said.

The protest in the southern West Bank city was planned in support of Hamas on the anniversary of its founding.

On social media sites, activists posted videos showing the security forces using batons against both male and female demonstrators in Hebron.

In Nablus in the northern West Bank, protesters from other factions clashed with Hamas demonstrators after they raised its flag, witnesses said.

Adnan Al-Damiri, spokesman for the Palestinian police, confirmed they prevented a pro-Hamas protest in Hebron, called initially to demonstrate against Israel.

“But Hamas... demonstrated against the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its security services in the city center and not against the (Israeli) occupation.”

The PA, led by President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party, cooperates closely with Israeli security, while Hamas has fought three wars with the Jewish state since 2008.

Hamas cells operate in the West Bank despite the PA and Israel seeking to arrest them.

Two Israeli soldiers were killed Thursday and two other Israelis injured when a man opened fire at a bus stop at a settlement in the West Bank, before fleeing.

Hamas has claimed two other recent shooting attacks in the West Bank but has so far not taken responsibility for Thursday’s attack.

The resistance movement has controlled the Gaza Strip since forcing out Abbas’ forces in 2007, with the two at loggerheads since.

An Egyptian security delegation visited the West Bank’s main city of Ramallah to meet with Abbas late Thursday to try to calm tensions. — AFP