Wedding deaths lead to Palestinian crackdown on guns

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The shooting took place on a much-used thoroughfare near the center of Ramallah.

For some, the resultant pain was further pronounced because Taher was an activist in Fatah, the core political grouping loyal to Yasser Arafat.

Local Fatah leaders last week issued a statement blaming the Palestinian Authority, Ramallah Governor Mustafa Liftawi and the Palestinian security agencies. Because security forces were able to protect entertainers appearing at last month's Ramallah Festival, they said, the forces should be able "to provide security to our masses."

The accident on Wednesday of last week took place after midnight. Zmikna had asked the singer to stop the festivities at that point due to the presence of two men firing guns. "Everyone was going home, but then they shot, and the person was killed," said Zmikna. "It was not deliberate."

The Ramallah Governorate, embarrassed by the death, vowed an "iron fist" response, including confiscations of unlicensed weapons.

But Col. Saeb Nossar, a spokesman for the governorate, ruled out confiscation of weapons held by Fatah activists.

"I don't consider the weapons of the [Fatah] organization to be illegal. The PLO used to pay thousands of dollars for weapons [for Fatah], so I don't think these are illegal," he said. However, Fatah will be asked to hand over a list of weapons held by activists, he added.

Nossar said that many of the illegal weapons in Palestinian hands were coming from Israel via "mafia elements, thieves and drug dealers."

However, the Palestinian human rights group LAW said members of the Palestinian security forces often lend out their guns. "Some of their friends and relatives are using these weapons outside the line of duty," said LAW research director Fahmi Shaheen.

Nossar denied this scenario.

He added that the alleged perpetrator of last week's shooting, Ziyad Zohour, had turned himself into police. Zohour is not a member of the security forces, Nossar said.