Ramallah: The Palestinian security apparatus has released a number of Palestinians accused of setting alight two restaurants which serve alcohol in Beir Zeit, a town north of Ramallah, for lack of evidence.
Palestinian crowds gathered in front of the adjacent restaurants last weekend and threw stones at their windows, doors and signboards. Others set the two restaurants on fire and the crowds remained at the scene, watching until the two restaurants were totally gutted.
The residents of Beir Zeit had accused the two restaurants of serving alcohol to the public without regard for Islamic sensibilities.
Sources in Beir Zeit told Gulf News that the area’s residents had approached the Ramallah and Al Beirah Municipality, trying to force the owners of the restaurants to meet their demands, but the attempts were futile because senior municipal officials failed to act.
Large crowds from Beir Zeit held a strike at the municipal premises demanding the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) take immediate action against those restaurants.
The sources said that the angry crowds made it clear to the municipality that Beir Zeit residents will never tolerate restaurants serving alcohol in their neighbourhood, adding that “indecent acts” have been reported in the restaurants.
The Beir Zeit residents gave the Ramallah and Al Beirah Municipality a 24 hour deadline to close down the two restaurants before the residents took action by themselves. The residents said that they should therefore not be held responsible.
A senior officer at the Palestinian security apparatus told Gulf News that Palestinian security departments, including the Palestinian Police and Preventive Security, launched an investigation into the incident and arrested several suspects.
The officer said that suspects were interrogated but all of them denied the charges. They were later referred to the Public Prosecution which released a number of them for lack of evidence ciing difficulty in identifying the perpetrators due to the size of the crowds which took part in burning the two restaurants.
The Palestinian security apparatus meanwhile have tightened security measures around hotels and other big restaurants which serve alcohol to prevent similar actions against them in the future.