Heaviest skirmish in years as PA forces battle gunmen near Nablus

Unconfirmed reports of injuries in hours-long shootout in Balata, most populous refugee camp in West Bank

Illustrative photo of Palestinian security forces (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of Palestinian security forces (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Palestinian gunmen fired on PA policemen in a refugee camp outside the northern West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday, in what eyewitnesses described as the heaviest shootout between PA security forces and armed Palestinian groups in recent years.

Unconfirmed reports said there were casualties in the shootout, but it wasn’t immediately clear how many or on which side. The fighting lasted several hours, according to local news.

Palestinian news site said local police urged Nablus residents to stay off the streets for their own safety.

The gunfight began before sunup, following a multi-day operation in the Balata refugee camp by Palestinian Authority security forces.

The objective of the Palestinian security forces was to restore order to the camp and confiscate weapons. Intelligence received by the PA showed that a large quantity of arms had been gathered in Balata.

The Balata refugee camp, the most populated in the West Bank according to UNRWA, is known as a hotbed of activity against the Palestinian Authority and the IDF. It has an unemployment rate of 25 percent, according to UN statistics.

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