Palestinian security forces in a refugee camp near Nablus on Tuesday failed to arrest two armed Fatah members who had appeared, masked and armed, in an Israeli news item.

The PA security forces arrived at the Balata Refugee Camp in the early morning to arrest Mohammed Abu-Zu’bul and Iyad Tirawi, leaders in Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades, who were caught on camera by Israel’s Channel 2 TV station on Thursday parading their weapons around the camp and firing into the air.

The men were protesting ill-treatment by the PA.

Women and children gathered at Abu-Zu’bul’s home and forced the PA security forces to retreat, the Dunya al-Watan news agency reported. Residents of the camp subsequently blocked the entrance to Balata with burning tires, to protest the raid.

The Palestinian Authority is facing mounting criticism over its inability to pay civil servants’ salaries, due to an unprecedented budgetary deficit.

President Mahmoud Abbas’s popularity on the Palestinian street has plummeted in comparison to that of Hamas Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, and imprisoned Fatah rival Marwan Barghouti, following Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in the Gaza Strip, according to a poll conducted in December.

According to data obtained by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), headed by Dr. Khalil Shikaki, if a three-way presidential election were to be held today, Haniyeh would receive 39% of the vote and Barghouti 29%. Abbas would only come in third, with 27%.

The poll found Hamas’s popularity to be at its highest level since 2008.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, dozens of protesters gathered in Ramallah to demonstrate against the government of Abbas and his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, and carried signs that read “This government spends more money on its ministers than on its bureaucrats… it is a failed and corrupt government.”

On Monday, shots were fired at Jenin governor Talal Dweikat in an apparent attempt on his life, the Quds News Network, a local news wire, reported. Unknown men also sent the governor intimidating messages, warning him that his destiny would be similar to that of his predecessor, Qadura Moussa, who died of a heart attack last May after shots were fired at his home.