Arafat Removes Nablus Police Chief; Sets Up Campus Guards
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) _ Bowing to the demands of Palestinian protesters, Yasser Arafat today fired a senior police commander who had ordered a raid of a West Bank university.
Arafat also said he would set up special guard units for Palestinian universities. Arafat did not elaborate, but the units apparently are designed to avoid future friction between police and students.
The Nablus police chief, Col. Ala Hosni, was to be removed from his job and transferred to Gaza, a statement by Arafat’s office said. It was not clear whether Hosni would remain in the police force.
The action aimed to end protests set off by Arafat’s crackdown on Islamic militants. Palestinian security forces arrested some 900 people after the Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups carried out four suicide bombings in Israel.
In the beginning, most demonstrators were supporters of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups that have opposed Arafat’s rule from the outset.
However, Arafat supporters started joining the protests after police raided An Najah University in Nablus last weekend, firing tear gas and beating students. Five students were injured.
On Wednesday, members of Arafat’s Fatah movement at the university joined Hamas sympathizers in a vote to suspend classes until those responsible for the raid had been punished.
In the nearby town of Ramallah, where Arafat addressed a meeting of the Palestinian legislative council on Wednesday, some 2,000 protesters rallied, demanding an end to the crackdown.
After protesters scuffled with police, Arafat rushed to the demonstration and was heckled by the angry crowd.
According to a survey published today by a Palestinian think tank, 58.5 percent of Palestinians queried support the crackdown on the militants, while 31.9 percent oppose the police actions.
Asked about suicide attacks in Israel, 70.1 percent said they opposed such violence, while 21.1 percent said they supported the bombings.
The poll was conducted by the Nablus-based Center for Palestine Research and Studies. It included responses from 1,262 residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and had a margin of error of 3 percent.