JALAZOUN, West Bank - At least 50 people were hurt on Sunday in a clash
between Palestinian police and residents of a refugee camp protesting
against a strike in a UN aid agency that has paralyzed services, police
and an ambulance service said.
The demonstration, in Jalazoun
camp in the West Bank, was the most violent in a series of protests over
the past week stemming from a more than month-old strike for higher pay
by local employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency
UNRWA, which employs more than 5,000 Palestinians in 19
camps for some 730,000 West Bank refugees, has been forced to shut
schools, clinics and suspend trash collection at the camps since the
"We have nothing to do with the strike and we want
to make our voice heard," said Mohammed Najar, a Jalazoun resident. "The
situation in the camps cannot be tolerated: no schools, no clinics and
trash is piled everywhere."
Adnan Al-Dmairi, spokesman of the
Palestinian security forces in the West Bank, said authorities
sympathized with refugee camp residents hit by the strike but would not
A police spokesman said at least 40 policemen
were hurt by rocks thrown by protesters, who also blocked roads and
burned tires. Police responded by hurling stones at the crowd and firing
tear gas and live ammunition into the air, injuring more than 10
people, an ambulance service said.
Aid agencies are struggling to
cope with a deepening refugee crises related to the civil war in Syria
at the same time the Palestinian economy is faltering.
refugees fear UNRWA is slowly disengaging from its aid activities and
believe the international community owes them support since it
recognized Israel amid the war that led to its founding in 1948 - during
which they fled or were driven from their homes to Gaza, the West Bank
and surrounding countries.
The UN agency has said it is trying to
end the strike but does not have funds to meet the wage demands. It
also says its employees get paid at least 20 percent and in some cases
80 percent more than public-sector employees in equivalent fields.