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Friday, June 11, 2004

Palestinian gunmen threaten UN construction crews in Jenin

New houses "not big enough"
AP: JENIN REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank - The United Nations suspended a construction project in this refugee camp after Palestinian gunmen threatened crews rebuilding houses destroyed by Israeli forces, a U.N. official said Thursday.

Many residents of the Jenin camp are complaining that their new houses, replacing those destroyed in Israeli incursions, are not big enough, said Sami Mshasha of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which aids Palestinian refugees.

In the most recent attack, five Palestinians from one family barged into the U.N. office in Jenin on Tuesday and opened fire with M-16 and Kalashnikov assault rifles, said Fahri Turkman, a Palestinian lawmaker.

No one was hurt, but it was the third such attack on U.N. personnel in the past six months. . . .

One gunman, who identified himself as Abu Maher, said he took action because the house promised to him was only half the size of the one Israeli forces destroyed. He said dissatisfaction in the camp was widespread, with some residents saying the wait for a new home was too long. . . .

As part of the reconstruction, the U.N. agency is building 430 houses with $27 million from the United Arab Emirates, Mshasha said. Seventy apartments have been built so far, and more than 1,000 damaged houses have been repaired . . . .

Raed Karawi said the agency gave him an apartment of 600 square feet. "This is not enough for me and my wife to live. We will have children soon. This is not fair," he said, threatening to buy 20 old cars and block the new roads.