PA security forces. Image credit: Stop the Wall, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The authority of the Palestinian Authority was undermined amid scenes of disorder and violence in the West Bank last week.

Charges that the PA was not doing enough to enforce law and order have led some Palestinian civilians to fear that violence may lead to “civil war” between gangs in Hebron and the northern West Bank.

Last week, four universities had to be closed due to violent clashes on campuses between students and rival groups.

Al-Quds University, south of Jerusalem, closed after masked gunmen from a nearby village opened fire at cars belonging to students and lecturers. The shooting was thought to be connected to a dispute over a car park near the university.

Bir Zeit University, north of Ramallah, likewise had to close following violent clashes between students belonging to rival groups affiliated with the governing Fatah party.

Violent brawls between student groups also saw Hebron University and the Palestine Polytechnic University have to close.

Dozens of houses, businesses and shops were set alight by masked gunmen in Hebron, as the Al-Awaiai and Ja’bari clans clashed in street fighting.

The ongoing feud is thought to relate to the killing of taxi driver Basel Ja’bari, of the Ja’bari clan in September, which has not been punished by the PA.

Abdel Wahab Gheith, a leader of one of Hebron’s largest clans, blamed the PA for its inaction; pointing to how police officers had been moved from Hebron to Jenin despite the unrest.