JENIN, West Bank – A Palestinian lawmaker was shot twice in the leg by assailants as he returned to his home early Sunday, adding to a recent wave of violence and lawlessness in a town once seen as a Palestinian model of law and order.
Lawmaker Shami al-Shami said he was shot as he got out of his car about 1:30 a.m. He said eight bullets were fired at him, including one that hit the side mirror as he opened the car door. He said he ran for cover and then noticed he had been hit twice in the right thigh.
Al-Shami, a member of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement, said he did not know why he was targeted and that he did not recognize the assailants.
But the violence may have been linked to a growing crackdown by Abbas' forces on armed gangs in Jenin.
Jenin, located in the northern West Bank, was the scene of some of the worst violence during the second Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s. In addition to experiencing frequent clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants, the town was largely ruled by armed gangs that openly patrolled its streets and alleyways.
But in recent years, Abbas' security forces have made great inroads in restoring law and order. Under a program coordinated with Israel, Jenin was among the first Palestinian towns that were turned back over to Palestinian security.
That period of quiet, however, has been tested over the past 15 months or so, since an Israeli Arab actor who founded a community theater in town was gunned down by a masked gunman. The killer remains at large.
Earlier this year, gunmen shot at the home of the area's governor. The governor, Kadoura Mousa, was not hurt, but suffered a fatal heart attack several hours later. His death sparked a massive roundup of suspects, including a well-known former militant leader.
The new governor, Talal Dweikat, said that Sunday's shooting was an attempt to undermine the work of the security forces who are trying to strengthen and expand their control in the area. He vowed to bring the assailants to justice.
Also Sunday, an Israeli military court sentenced a former Hamas militant leader to 54 life terms for his role in a series of attacks that killed 46 Israelis and wounded more than 400 others.
Ibrahim Hamed, the former head of Hamas' military wing in the West Bank, was convicted last week of masterminding attacks that included the bombings of a Jerusalem cafe, the cafeteria at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and other public places during the second uprising a decade ago.