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PA raid sparks armed clashes in Balata refugee camp, 2 injured

June 4, 2017 12:53 P.M. (Updated: June 5, 2017 7:45 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma’an) -- Palestinian security forces conducted a raid into Balata refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus before dawn on Sunday, sparking armed clashes with locals that left two “wanted criminals” injured.

Nablus Mayor Akram Rujoub told Ma’an that a group of armed men in the camp opened fire at Palestinian security forces who were “conducting a security operation” in Balata, causing clashes to erupt.

Palestinian forces shot and injured one man in the foot, while another sustained an unspecified injury and was treated by an ambulance crew that entered the refugee camp, according to Rujoub.

Rujoub confirmed that no injuries were sustained among Palestinian security forces.

Rujoub did not mention the purpose of the raid, and it remained unclear if the two injured men or any others were arrested.

Balata refugee camp is often the site of violent clashes between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and armed locals, as the PA has launched a massive security crackdown to seize weapons and detain “wanted criminals” across the West Bank, as a part of the PA’s widely criticized security coordination with Israel established under the Oslo Accords.

Under the practice, PA security forces’ regularly arrest Palestinian suspects wanted by Israel, suppress Palestinian protests, and share intelligence with the Israeli army, which has been denounced as a revolving door policy of funneling Palestinian activists between Israeli and PA jails for the same offenses.

A raid by Palestinian forces in Balata in March left a Palestinian policeman dead, as fighters in the camp aligned with Fatah's armed wing the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades warned that they would continue to resist the ongoing security crackdown.

“Who are you using this policy against? Your own people? When you seek to kill us using Mossad (Israeli intelligence) methods, you are leaving us no other choice,” a masked gunman told Israel’s Channel 2 at the time.

A recent study by Palestinian think tank al-Shabaka documented the consequences of the PA’s security campaigns in Balata refugee camp, “whose ostensible purpose were to establish law and order,” but have been perceived by locals as the criminalization of resistance against Israel.

“Rather than recognize resistance as a natural response to institutionalized oppression, the PA, in tandem with Israel and the international community, characterizes resistance as ‘insurgency’ or ‘instability.’ Such rhetoric, which favors Israeli security at the expense of Palestinians, echoes discourse surrounding the ‘war on terror’ and criminalizes all forms of resistance,” al-Shabaka wrote.

According to the Hamas movement, PA forces detained 103 Palestinians in the month of May, including 14 in the Nablus district.
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