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Palestinians Clash on Death Penalty

July 3, 2000

AMARI REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank (AP) _ A Palestinian court Monday imposed the death penalty on a car thief who killed an 18-year-old woman, triggering a gun battle between the defendant’s angry supporters and Palestinian security forces.

Several people were injured in the firefight outside the Amari refugee camp, along the West Bank’s main north-south highway. Hospital officials in the nearby town of Ramallah said at least one of the injured was in critical condition.

The Amari camp, just south of Ramallah, is known as one of the West Bank’s strongholds of car thieves and weapons dealers.

Ahlam Dokmak, an Amari resident, was shot to death Saturday in her family’s butcher shop in Ramallah, as part of a turf war among car thieves. Doctors said Dokmak was killed by shots fired from close range.

Ramallah residents have complained in the past that Amari gunmen have taken their disputes to the streets of their city.

After Saturday’s shooting, Ramallah merchants closed their shops in protest. Later that day, a group of Amari residents went on a rampage in several Ramallah restaurants, opening fire and smashing furniture.

Before dawn Monday, a military tribunal in Ramallah sentenced Raji Saker, 29, of the Amari camp, to death for killing Dokmak. The judges imposed a 12-year prison term on an accomplice, Jamal Azzeh, 24. One of Saker’s brothers, Walid, was acquitted, while another, Ibahim, is being sought by police.

Three people have been put to death by firing squad in the Palestinian areas in the past six years, one for raping a child. All three were members of the security forces. In two dozen other cases, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat commuted death penalties to life sentences.

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