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Bystanders injured as PA security forces enter Balata

March 8, 2015 12:57 P.M. (Updated: March 10, 2015 9:20 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Two young Palestinian men sustained gunshot injuries on Saturday evening during an exchange of fire between fugitives and Palestinian security officers.

The exchange began during an attempt by Palestinian security forces to arrest a fugitive in Balata refugee camp east of Nablus in the northern West Bank.

Palestinian security sources told Ma'an that security officers entered Balata in the evening to make the arrest, but came under fire. The fugitive managed to run away after being injured by shrapnel. Two bystanders sustained minor wounds during crossfire, the sources said.

Balata refugee camp was established by the United Nations in 1950 to provide housing and services to refugees resulting from the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, causing more than 700,000 Palestinians to flee their homes.

Balata is now the most populated refugee camp in the West Bank. Housing an estimated 23,000 on less than a kilometer of land, the densely populated camp has historically shown high levels of unemployment, overcrowded classrooms, and lack of basic services such as access to clean water and effective sewage systems.

The cramped environment of the camp makes it difficult for security forces to enter covertly, and entrance of Palestinian security or Israeli forces into the camp often results in violent clashes.

The attempted arrest on Saturday marks an ongoing effort by the Palestinian Authority to clamp down on criminal activity throughout the West Bank.
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