JAFFA, Israel – Tens of thousands of Palestinians on Sunday attended the funeral of a West Bank terrorist who was beaten to death by Palestinian policemen while in custody.
Ahmad Halawa, an Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades commander, was arrested for killing two Palestinian security officers during a gunfight in Nablus earlier this month, and his killing was probably a retribution.
The large turnout at the funeral sent a message of defiance to the Palestinian Authority ahead of crucial local elections, and signifies the ongoing erosion of its central power across the West Bank, especially in and around Nablus.
Following the incident on August 18, PA security raided numerous militant cells, and targeted Halawa as a main agitator. Several days after the operation began, he was caught in a hideout in Nablus. While in custody, Halawa was beaten by policemen who sought to avenge the death of their colleagues and weren’t deterred by shots that other policemen fired in the air in an attempt to save Halawa.
Once Halawa was declared dead, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah ordered the establishment of an inquiry commission into his extrajudicial killing, while handcuffed. At the same time, a general strike was declared in Nablus in protest of the abuse of police power, which was supported even by residents who have been affected by the security decline in the city.
PA officials were shocked at the large turnout at Halawa’s funeral, which reached tens of thousands.
“The funeral was a spontaneous referendum,” Muhanad Halawa, a relative of the deceased, told Breitbart Jerusalem. “The PA described him as a gangster, but how come tens of thousands of people attended the funeral of a gangster? If he was responsible for the anarchy in Nablus, why would the entire city strike for three days? The chants condemning Abu Mazen [President Mahmoud Abbas], Prime Minister Hamdallah and Governor Akram Rajoub only show you what people really think, and who’s responsible for the anarchy.”
“This is by no means the end of it,” Muhanad said. “Ahmad’s family and friends will not forgive those who killed him in cold blood. Before and after the killing of the two officers Halawa tried to calm things down and persuade young militants from the family, who were wanted by the police, to turn themselves in. But his execution had nothing to do with the incident. It was done at the instruction of PA officials who didn’t want Halawa to go on fighting their corruption. They are the source of corruption and anarchy.”