Palestinian security force kills Islamic Jihad gunman in rare internal clash

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RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) – Palestinian security officers killed a gunman in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, a rare intra-Palestinian clash whose circumstances were disputed and which the fighter’s faction described as an Israeli-style “assassination”.

Palestinian Authority security services spokesperson Talak Dweikat said a force sent to patrol Tulkarm overnight came under fire and shot back, hitting the gunman. He died from his wounds in hospital.

Videos circulated online, and which Reuters was not immediately able to confirm, showed a car being hit by gunfire.

A local armed group, the Tulkarm and Nour Shams Camp Brigades, claimed the dead man, Ahmed Abu al-Foul, as its member with affiliation to the largely militant group Islamic Jihad.

Al-Foul was “treacherously … targeted in his car” without provocation, the brigades said in a statement. “This crime is just like any assassination by Israeli special forces.”

President Mahmoud Abbas‘ PA wields limited self-rule in the West Bank, and sometimes coordinates security with Israel.

Parts of the territory have drifted into chaos and poverty, with the PA and Israel trading blame, especially since ties have been further strained by Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

Hamas, an Islamic Jihad ally which rules the Gaza Strip and has chafed at Abbas’ strategy of seeking diplomatic accommodation with Israel, denounced “the attacks by the PA’s security forces on our people and our resistance fighters”.

Palestinian security forces and gunmen have exchanged gunfire several times in the last year, but deaths are rare.

(Reporting by Ali Sawafta; Editing by Alison Williams)