PA tries to stop teachers from reaching Ramallah protest

Educators are blocked by checkpoints; government has yet to make good on its promise to raise salaries after 2013 strike

Teachers protesting over wages in Ramallah on February 23, 2016. (screen capture: YouTube)
Teachers protesting over wages in Ramallah on February 23, 2016. (screen capture: YouTube)

Palestinian security forces set up checkpoints near Ramallah and Jerusalem Tuesday in an attempt to keep thousands of teachers from reaching the Palestinian Authority’s administrative center in Ramallah to protest low salaries.

Buses carrying teachers to the government buildings in Ramallah, where protests were to take place, were stopped and turned away by officers at checkpoints in the de facto PA capital as well as neighboring al-Bireh.

Officers were stationed at government buildings in Ramallah, ready to thwart any attempt at protest made by the teachers, according to the Palestinian Ma’an news agency.

Last week, an estimated 20,000 teachers demonstrated in Ramallah, calling on the government to respect the 2013 agreement to raise public school teachers’ salaries.

Despite the attempts to block the teachers’ arrival to Ramallah Tuesday, many teachers managed to gather outside the government offices after eluding Palestinian security.

Video taken at the scene showed several hundred protesters facing off against a line of riot police.

Ma’an reported that officers at additional checkpoints set up near the Beit Jala junction and Dar Salah south of Jerusalem were also checking and turning back private vehicles carrying teachers toward Ramallah.

Anonymous sources who asked their name not be divulged for safety reasons told Ma’an that security forces were threatening to punish bus companies and fine taxi drivers for driving teachers to the demonstration.

Last week, 22 teachers were detained by Palestinian police after participating in a two-day strike in Ramallah.

The Western-backed PA is going through a severe fiscal crisis and struggling to pay its vast number of government employees. Teachers make up the largest group of this sector.

“The instructions the Palestinian government has given to its security services breach the basics of Palestinian law,” Khalil Assaf, a member of a politically unaffiliated committee, told Ma’an.

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