PA police disperse protest by force

PA security forces use tear gas and batons to disperse protest against trial of 5 Arabs in Ramallah.


PA police officer
PA police officer
Flash 90

Palestinian Authority security forces used tear gas and batons to disperse a protest Sunday at a
court involved in the case of five Arabs, including one recently killed by Israeli forces, activists and lawyers said.

The crowd dispersed included journalists and activists while the protest in the PA political capital Ramallah had been peaceful, a group of human rights organisations said in a statement.

Police said protesters had "blocked the road in front of the court" and that "they refused to comply when security forces ordered them to clear the way".

"Forces then deployed in accordance with the law," they said.

Bassel al-Aaraj, 31, was killed on March 5 by Israeli soldiers in Ramallah, after he opened fire at soldiers who came to arrest him at his home and was shot dead.

He was wanted by the Israelis, but had also been detained for several months by the Palestinian Authority with four others for illegal possession of arms and endangering the lives of others.

Israel accused him of being the head of a cell planning attacks against Israel.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority coordinate on security matters, drawing criticism from many Arabs.

The four other suspects were not present in court because they have since been arrested by Israel. Aaraj's name was withdrawn from the list of suspects on Sunday, his lawyer said.

"What we suffered today is an attack on our rights," his father Mahmud al-Aaraj told reporters after the protest was dispersed.

Mohannad Karajeh, a lawyer defending the accused Arab s, said he planned to file a complaint on behalf of 12 protesters caught up in the dispersal.

The PA journalists' union denounced the "shameful aggression" of the dispersion.