Special to WorldTribune.com
RAMALLAH — The Palestinian Authority has been clashing with refugees
in the West Bank.
PA forces confronted Palestinian refugees amid a strike of basic
services near Ramallah. Officials said at least 50 people were injured in a
battle with hundreds of Palestinians around the United Nations-sponsored
camp in Jalazoun on Jan. 12.
“We are not against protests unless they disturb the general order or lead to attacks on the freedom of citizens and public or private property,” PA police spokesman Brig. Gen. Adnan Dumeiri said.
Officials said Jalazoun refugees blocked roads near Ramallah in protest of a strike at the UN Relief and Works Agency, which employs more than 5,000 Palestinians in 19 camps in the West Bank. They said 40 police officers were injured by rock-throwing.
PA troops responded by firing live ammunition and tear gas. At least 10 Palestinian civilians were said to have been injured.
“What happened was unfortunate,” Dumeiri said. “I personally am the child of a [refugee] camp, and I sympathize with all the demands.”
The strike at UNRWA has lasted more than a month as employees demanded a
salary increase. Officials said the UN, which pays salaries more than 80 percent than those of the PA, has cited budget difficulties.
Officials acknowledged that the protests included members of the ruling
Fatah movement. They said many Fatah members also worked for UNRWA, which
was forced to close schools.
In an unrelated development, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has sought to
bolster Fatah influence in the West Bank. On Jan. 7, Abbas appointed Fatah
members Rafi Rawajba and Abdullah Kamil as governors of the provinces of
Kalkilya and Tulkarm.