Celebratory gunfire hits a transformer in Hebron: ‘We came close to a horrendous disaster’
Videos filmed on March 14, 2023 show armed supporters of the Palestinian political movement Fatah firing celebratory gunshots into the air in Hebron in the West Bank. The men were celebrating their party’s victory in student elections held at the city’s polytechnic university. However, this celebratory gunfire, a common occurrence during celebrations in the Middle East, hit a transformer, causing it to explode. Our Observer says the result could have been catastrophic.
It was a celebration that nearly ended in tragedy. Armed supporters of Fatah showed up en masse at the Hebron polytechnic university, where a student election was being held and fired multiple rounds of gunshots into the air during and after the vote.
A video shared on Twitter on March 14, 2023 captures the terrifying moment. You can hear bursts of gunfire and then an electrical wire hanging over the street catches fire, breaking and swinging dangerously over a road filled with cars and people
معجزة .. بأعجوبة نجا عدد من المواطنين اليوم أمام جامعة البوليتكنك في الخليل أثناء إطلاق النار من قبل السلطة الفلسطينية احتفالاً بفتح الشبيبة الفتحاوية . pic.twitter.com/I4KDpAZJ2A— غزة الآن - Gaza Now (@GazaNownews) March 14, 2023
Before the explosion, civilians had already tried to get anyone bearing arms to leave.
“Will all armed people please immediately leave the area,” a person is heard saying into a microphone in another video.
The footage also shows people wearing yellow bandanas, the color worn by members of the movement, leaving the area, still firing into the air.
سلاح رخيص بيد ناس رخيصة!— الـليدر عُثمــان 🇵🇸 (@othman068197462) March 14, 2023
تذكرت #معتصم_زلوم وهو يقول لمناظر الأجهزة الأمنية : دعك من الشهداء واحكي على قدك .
هذا قدركم . طخيخة أعراس مرتزقة
أبطال على شعبنا ، أنذال أمام العدو#الخليل #فتح pic.twitter.com/0ZY6hTrVsr
Celebratory gunfire is extremely dangerous but remains common in the Middle East. Many people living in the neighbourhood where it occurred were far from pleased. Our Observer Issa Amro is an activist and human rights defender in Hebron.
For several seconds, a flaming electric cable bounced between residential buildings and cars parked in the street. Thankfully, no one was injured and no fires were started. There was so much gunfire.
We came close to a horrendous disaster. It’s extremely dangerous to shoot in densely populated areas like Hebron. Those responsible for the incident are the armed groups that operate outside the law and have links to the Fatah movement and the Palestinian intelligence chief Majed Faraj.
Aside from just celebrating, these people were firing guns like that because they wanted to scare students that are part of the opposition camps. Some people also theorise that these members of Fatah want to reassert themselves and establish a certain legitimacy that they lost after Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the State of Palestine and the Palestinian Authority, canceled the presidential and legislative elections in 2021. [Editor’s note: Abbas is a member of Fatah himself and some people believe he canceled the elections over fears his party would lose to rivals Hamas].
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When the student election results were announced mid-afternoon on March 14, Fatah was ahead, scoring 21 out of 41 student government seats. The student group backed by the Islamist movement Hamas got 19 seats. Just one seat was won by the more left-leaning bloc.
Another video shows the moments following the transformer’s explosion in Hebron. The video shows armed partisans from Fatah moving away from the flames.
🅰️🎥 شاهد | "طخيخة فتح" يتسببون بانفجار محول كهرباء قرب جامعة البوليتكنك في الخليل بعد إطلاقهم النار بشكل مكثف، وسط حالة سخط من المواطنين في المركبات pic.twitter.com/L1CbcvqW1J— أحرار برس (@PsAhrar) March 14, 2023
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