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On January 29th this year a roadside brawl between a butcher from Ramallah and two youths from the nearby refugee camp of Kalandia degenerated into a brief torrent of violence. What began with a murder ended in two days of ostensibly sectarian thuggery—the butcher happened to be Christian and the youths Muslim. The real significance of the affair, however, is the way it has thrown into sharp relief both the growing socio-economic faultlines within this embattled society and the tenuous nature of the authority that Arafat’s government wields, even in its seat of power.
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