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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Palestinians Riot to Protest Murder by Own Police

NABLUS, West Bank -- Palestinians burned tires, closed shops and staged a sit-in Thursday to protest the death of a Nablus man they maintain was whipped and burned with cigarettes by Palestinian security forces in jail.

Some 200 demonstrators gathered outside the office of the Nablus governor and demanded the resignation of the city's mayor, Ghassan Shakaa, a confidant of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Arafat's Fatah movement, which has been increasingly critical of the Palestinian leader because of his harsh methods in silencing dissent, called a protest strike. Dozens of activists moved from shop to shop, ordering merchants home.

Youths burned several tires in a Nablus street, and a Palestinian police car was pelted with stones.

"We did not struggle [against Israeli occupation] to have this kind of repression," read a banner draped outside the home of the detainee, Mahmoud Jemayel, who died of his injuries Wednesday.

Jemayel was arrested in Nablus on Dec. 18 as part of a roundup of underground gunmen known as the Fatah Hawks. The Hawks, who have no formal affiliation with Arafat's Fatah movement, had terrorized the city in the months before Israel turned it over to Palestinian rule Dec. 11. They killed people suspected of collaborating with Israel and shot the knees of people they suspected of drug dealing.

Jemayel was held in a jail in the West Bank town of Jericho for seven months, then transferred to a prison in Nablus on Friday, where he was interrogated by agents from the Bahriyeh, or Marines, one of several Palestinian security agencies.

Late Friday, Jemayel was admitted to a Nablus hospital with severe beating injuries and transferred to a Palestinian hospital in Ramallah when his condition deteriorated. On Wednesday, he was taken to Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital, where he died.

A reporter who visited Jemayel at the Ramallah hospital saw cigarette burns, bruises and streaks from whipping on Jemayel's body. Doctors said Jemayel had a broken skull and was bleeding in the brain.

Three Palestinian interrogators were arrested Wednesday "because they are responsible for torturing Mahmoud Jemayel," said Nablus Gov. Mahmoud Aloul.

"They were arrested by the military prosecutor and after personal orders from Arafat on charges of excessive use of violence," he said.

"We will not forgive any mistake that happens," Arafat was quoted as saying during a meeting of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

However, Jemayel's mother, Leila, said she held Arafat responsible for permitting such abuse. "What good is a military trial now? How is that going to help me?" said Mrs. Jemayel.

It was not clear why Thursday's protests were directed at the Nablus mayor. Palestinian reporters said Jemayel was suspected of having thrown a bomb at the mayor's house and setting his car on fire two or three years ago.

Anger in Nablus was increased by a report Thursday that two men transferred to Nablus with Jemayel for interrogation had tried to commit suicide.

Jamal Nabulsi, 34, and Moammar Mabroukeh, 25, cut their wrists and necks with razor blades, according to Nabulsi's mother, Zakiyeh. She visited the two in the hospital Wednesday night, and said that they were gone when she returned Thursday.

Israeli, Palestinian and international human rights groups have complained of mistreatment of detainees in Palestinian jails. Six Palestinians have died in custody since the start of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in May 1994.