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2 children shot during clashes with PA security forces

March 20, 2015 7:27 P.M. (Updated: March 23, 2015 4:54 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Two Palestinian children were injured, one seriously, in clashes with Palestinian security forces near Balata refugee camp in eastern Nablus on Friday.

Locals told Ma'an that Mohammad Rakiz Abu Assab, 10, was shot in the stomach and taken to Rafidia hospital in a serious condition, while Mohammad Raed al-Hajj, 11, was shot in the foot and taken to al-Ittihad hospital.

Security sources told Ma'an that clashes broke out between security forces and dozens of youths on al-Quds street near the refugee camp after the young Palestinians closed the road and began throwing rocks on the street.

Palestinian Legislative Council Member Jamal al-Tirawi told Ma'an that responsibility lay with President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to prevent the situation in Balata from deteriorating further.

Balata has been the site of growing tension since Palestinian security forces began a security campaign in February with the stated aim of capturing 18 wanted criminals inside the refugee camp.

Seven of the fugitives turned themselves in to the police in mid-February, following a meeting between Prime Minister Hamdallah and representatives of political parties in Balata refugee camp, and several others have been detained.

Earlier this month, gunmen and youths from the camp blocked al-Quds street, demanding that the PA release the wanted men that had turned themselves in.

On March 8 two Palestinian men sustained gunshot injuries during an exchange of fire between fugitives and Palestinian security officers.

The most populated refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, Balata houses an estimated 23,000 on less than a square kilometer of land.

The densely populated camp has historically shown high levels of unemployment, overcrowded classrooms, and a lack of basic services such as access to clean water and effective sewage systems, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

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.

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.
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