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Palestinian security clash with electricity protesters in Nablus

Jan. 2, 2013 10:38 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 4, 2013 1:06 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma’an) -- Protesters clashed with Palestinian security forces in the West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday evening, in a demonstration against a recent deal to end refugees' exemption from electricity costs.

Around 200 Palestinians gathered at the Shuhada junction in the city and burned tires, drawing dozens of security officers and a firefighting crew to the scene. The protesters were calling for the debt-cancellation clause of the deal to be applied to non-refugees.

Protesters threw stones and glass bottles at the security forces, and more than 20 officers were light to moderately wounded, according to Red Crescent officials.

Nablus governor Jibrin al-Bakri warned that while he supports peaceful protests, and any protester who destroys private and public properties will be held to account.

The electricity deal, signed by PA premier Salam Fayyad on Sunday, ends refugees' exemption from electricity costs, but cancels all their outstanding debt.

Opposition within the popular committee in Nablus insists that refugees should not be forced to pay bills and is also demanding non-refugees also have their debt canceled.

On Tuesday, the popular committees of refugee camps in Nablus called upon the Palestinian government to be just and support all classes of Palestinian people.

Meanwhile, Fatah in Nablus called on the North Electric Company to freeze all previous debts.

Mahmud Ishtayeh, Fatah Secretary in Nablus district, urged the supplier to freeze all debts and delay fines before the end of 2012 until they reach an agreement with the PA cabinet.

Ishtayeh said that they have to take into consideration the difficult situation Palestinians go through, and to support their steadfastness. On the other side, they should pay attention to the importance of strengthening the capacity of electricity companies.

Palestinian power companies said the gap in payments from refugees was a main reason for their accumulating debts. In the summer, Palestinian officials said Israel was threatening to cut off power over the unpaid debts, which total around $100 million after this month's tax seizure.
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