Fatal quarrel among Palestinians ignites protest in Ramallah

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Relatives of a top Palestinian official rampaged through Ramallah late Wednesday, firing into the air and at government buildings after a family member was killed in a personal quarrel with a Palestinian security officer, security officials said.

Hospital officials confirmed the death of Khalil al-Sheikh in a gunbattle that erupted after his nephew quarreled with the security officer. Al-Sheikh had arrived at the scene with a group of gunmen to help defend his nephew.

Al-Sheikh was the brother of Hussein al-Sheikh, one of the most powerful men in the West Bank. Hussein al-Sheikh is a senior Cabinet minister and close adviser of Palestininian President Mahmoud Abbas. He also is among the few Palestinian leaders to maintain good working relations with Israeli political and security officials.

After Khalil al-Sheikh’s death, family members marched through Ramallah, shooting at government buildings and at the headquarters of the Preventive Security, the security force that employed the suspected killer, security officials said. The sound of automatic gunfire could be heard throughout the city.

A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk with the media, said the alleged killer remained at large.

The West Bank has experienced an upsurge in violence in recent months, including violence between rival clans and villages and domestic violence.

The violence appears to have been fueled by a deep economic crisis caused by months of government lockdowns to control the spread of the coronavirus. Social media have been filled with calls for the Palestinian Authority to crack down on the violence and confiscate illegal weapons that have flooded the territory.

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Associated Press writer Josef Federman in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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