Fighters raid Bethlehem mayor's office

Armed Palestinians from al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have stormed the office of the mayor of Bethlehem, in the West Bank.

    Abbas has pledged, but so far failed, to enforce security

    About 20 members of the faction, an armed offshoot of the ruling Fatah party, burst into the building on Manger Square on Tuesday.

     

    The fighters then ordered all staff to leave and closed all the doors, witnesses and security sources said.

     

    Witnesses added that a number of armed men also took up positions on the roof of the building.

     

    The incident was another sign of growing turmoil within Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction ahead of a January parliamentary election.

     

    Palestinian security forces, armed with automatic weapons, surrounded the municipal building.

     

    Members of the Brigades who had been deployed at the entrance to the building said their colleagues had acted in protest at the Palestinian Authority's failure to provide financial assistance to 300 activists.

     

    Eyes on Bethlehem

    They wanted to draw the international community's attention to the issue at a time "when the eyes of the world are turned towards Bethlehem on the eve of Christmas," one Brigades member said about the birthplace of Jesus Christ.

     

    The fighters left the city's hall peacefully, ending a one-hour standoff after receiving a promise from the mayor to address their demands for jobs and pay.

     

    Abbas has consistently pledged, but so far failed, to tame the security chaos in the West Bank and Gaza Strip where armed men are often able to act with impunity, often in the name of resistance to Israel.

     

    Tuesday's action revived memories of a five-week standoff between the Israeli army and a group of fighters who had taken over the Nativity church in 2002.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    We visualised 1.2 million votes at the UN since 1946. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the world today?

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.