Region | Palestinian Territories

Palestinian internal clashes erupt in Nablus

Government’s decision to only forgive debt for refugees angers citizens

  • By Nasouh Nazzal Correspondent
  • Published: 16:46 January 2, 2013
  • Gulf News

Ramallah: Heavy clashes have erupted between the Palestinian public and their security apparatus in Nablus and the northern areas of the West Bank in protests against the Palestinian government’s decision to delete electricity debts and to financially pardon the residents of the refugee camps.

Hundreds of angry Palestinians flocked to the streets, burning tires, blocking the main roads and roundabouts and clashing with the Palestinian security apparatus which requested back-up all over the northern areas of the West Bank.

Palestinian demonstrators threw stones and empty glass bottles at security forces which fired live bullets in the air and tear gas bombs toward the demonstrators. More than 50 Palestinians, both demonstrators and the security forces, have been wounded and rushed to hospitals.

Under the theme of “cover all the needy people”, thousands of Palestinian members of the public are expected to take part in the demonstrations which are spreading city by city and village by village.

The municipalities of the northern cities of the West Bank have announced a three-day general strike in protest of the decision which covered only the residents of the refugee camps and excluded residents of the villages and cities. The municipalities of Nablus, Tulkarem, Qalqilia, Salfit, Jenin along with all the local councils of their villages have been closed since the government’s decision was put in place at the beginning of the year 2013. Tuesday was an official holiday and those municipalities will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday.

According to the Palestinian government’s agreement, which Dr Salam Fayyad signed with the popular committee of the refugee camps, the residents of the refugee camps will be pardoned from paying their outstanding electricity debts which will be deleted up to the end of the last year — December 31, 2012.

The municipalities of the northern West Bank cities announced that the government agreement with the refugee camps lacked social justice as almost all the Palestinian residents were in debt to municipalities and it was unfair to relieve the residents of the refugee camps and leave the residents of the villages and cities without any privileges.

“All Palestinian residents should be treated equally and fairly — this is a social must,” said Othman Dawoud, Qalqilia Mayor.

“The latest government agreement to delete the debts of the residents of the refugee camps has created a serious problem with the city’s residents of whom more than 70 per cent hold UNRWA cards,” he told Gulf News. “Social justice, especially with the needy Palestinians in the cities and villages was totally missing when the government signed this agreement with the refugee camps,” he stressed.

The residents of Qalqilia owe more than 100 million Shekels to their municipality. “Now we have a problem and the government should pay bigger attention to the residents of the cities and provide them with social justice,” he said.

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