Palestinian refugees give Qureia scare

Armed Palestinians at the Balata refugee camp in the occupied West Bank have fired gunshots next to a building where Prime Minister Ahmad Qureia was giving a speech.

    The Balata refugee camp is a hotbed of resistance activity

    Although bullets did not penetrate the wall of the sports club near the city of Nablus on Wednesday, other suspected resistance fighters also opened fire inside the building - within a hundred metres of Palestinian officials.

    An explosive device was also detonated as the prime minister and his entourage left the camp. Neither Qureia nor anyone in his entourage were injured.

    "This is the kind of chaos we do not want. They (resistance groups) want to impose their will but we will not bend to them," Qureia said after the shooting.

    The prime minister has previously threatened to suspend his government over the failure by the security forces to get to grips with various resistance factions in the Palestinian territories.

    Refugee frustration

    But Balata refugee camp is a hotbed of resistance activity, and many in the camp oppose what they see as Palestinian officials' efforts to marginalise them.

    They also resent reports of corruption among high-level Palestinian officials.

    Mahmoud al-Khatib, who said he was one of a group of young men who fired at the building, said he acted out of anger and frustration at how officials treated his father, who was jailed by Israel for 21 years.

    "When my dad came out of jail, the Palestinian Authority didn't help him with anything," he said. "Officials live in luxury and we, the ones who gave so much to Palestine, have gotten nothing.

    "I reached a point where I'm willing to kill so I can take back my rights, my father's rights, and the rights of all those like us," he said.

    After the gunfire and explosion, Qureia continued with his planned itinerary and toured another refugee camp nearby.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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