UNRWA strike sparks clashes in West Bank
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UNRWA strike sparks clashes in West Bank

At least 40 policemen and 10 protesters reported injured after demonstrations turn violent near Ramallah

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Protesters from the Palestinian refugee camp of al-Jalazoun, clash with Palestinian police as they block the main road leading to the West Bank city of Ramallah to demonstrate against the reduction of aid to refugees given by United Nation's UNRWA on January 12, 2014 (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Protesters from the Palestinian refugee camp of al-Jalazoun, clash with Palestinian police as they block the main road leading to the West Bank city of Ramallah to demonstrate against the reduction of aid to refugees given by United Nation's UNRWA on January 12, 2014 (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Dozens of Palestinian demonstrators blocked roads and clashed with police forces near Ramallah in the West Bank to protest a UN aid agency strike which has resulted in a severe lack of public services across Palestinian refugee camps.

At least 50 people were injured during the protests, Reuters reported, including 40 policemen.

According to the Palestinian news agency Ma’an, main roads near the al-Jalazun and al-Amari refugee camps were blocked with stones and burning tires.

A Palestinian police spokesman said 40 policemen were injured after stones were hurled at them. The police responded by throwing stones and firing tear gas canisters at the protesters, injuring more than 10 protesters, Reuters reported. Live ammunition was reported to have been fired in the air at the site as well.

Palestinian security services spokesman Adnan Dmeiri denied that any protester was hurt, Ma’an reported.

“What happened was unfortunate, and we are with the protests and the demands and consider them lawful,” Dmeiri said.

He added that although he sympathized with the protesters, the Palestinian Authority would not accept disorderly conduct.

“We are not against protests unless they disturb the general order, or lead to attacks on the freedom of citizens and public or private property,” he said.

Workers from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency have been on strike for more than a month, after the organization had laid off 55 employees in late 2013. The strike stemmed from a lack of resources, apparently due to the group’s shifting of funds toward Syrian refugees dispatched from their home during the country’s over three-year-long civil war.

More than 5,000 Palestinians in 19 camps are employed by the agency, providing service to the West Bank’s nearly 730,000 refugees.

“We have nothing to do with the strike and we want to make our voice heard,” Mohammed Najar, an al-Jalazun resident told Reuters.

“The situation in the camps cannot be tolerated: no schools, no clinics and trash is piled everywhere.”

The UN agency stressed it has attempted to end the strike but does not currently possess the funds to meet the wage demands of its Palestinian workers.

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