Palestinian Authority police officers stand guard in the West Bank [File].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Two Palestinians on Tuesday stole a pistol from a Palestinian Authority policeman during an altercation in Nablus and fled to the nearby Balata refugee camp, where Fatah gunmen have been openly challenging the PA security forces in recent weeks.
The incident prompted PA security forces to beef up their presence around the camp – a move that resulted in an exchange of gunfire with Fatah gunmen. No one was hurt during the armed clashes.
Over the past few weeks, Balata camp has been the scene of several shooting incidents between unruly Fatah gunmen and PA policemen and security officers.
The PA has accused the gunmen of imposing a rein of terror and intimidation on camp residents and wealthy families living in Nablus.
Several attempts by the PA to arrest the gunmen, whom it describes as “thugs” and “gangsters,” have failed. Also, attempts by various factions and figures in Nablus to reach a “cease-fire” agreement between the two sides have failed.
The gunmen are demanding that the PA free two of their friends who are being held in the Palestinian Jericho Central Prison.