Israeli forces open fire on protests across the West Bank 23Nov13 November 23, 2013

251560_345x230Ma’an   -   23 November 2013
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — At least three Palestinians were struck by bullets or tear gas canisters and dozens more suffered from tear-gas inhalation as Israeli forces opened fire on protests across the West Bank on Friday.

Israeli forces also assaulted a television crew covering the protests in one village.

Protests against the Israeli occupation and separation wall took place in villages across the West Bank, including in Bilin, Nabi Saleh, al-Masara, Tuqu, and Kafr Qaddum.

Dozens were also injured in protests in East Jerusalem and near Jerusalem, specifically at Kabsa Junction, Qalandia, and in Issawiya neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

One man was shot in the back and dozens were injured by excessive tear-gas inhalation during clashes between activists and Israeli forces in the central West Bank village of Bilin.

Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at protesters as they neared their lands close to the wall. They chased protesters through the fields and shot Majd Burnat, 18, with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the back.

Israeli forces also assaulted a Palestine TV crew while they were covering the protest.

Protesters held Palestinian flags and chanted songs calling for unity and the release and freedom of Palestinian prisoners.

This week’s protest was held in solidarity with Palestinian holy sites and Jerusalem.

Since 2005, Bilin villagers have protested on a weekly basis against the Israeli separation wall that runs through their village on land confiscated from local farmers.

Previous protests by Bilin activists have forced the Israeli authorities to re-route the wall, but large chunks of the village lands remain inaccessible to residents because of the route.

In Nabi Saleh, northwest of Ramallah, a demonstration was held to mark the 29th anniversary of the death of Bakr al-Tamimi who was killed by Israeli forces in Ramallah in 1984.

Participants marched toward the main gate of the village to try and open it after 10 years of closure. Israeli soldiers who were deployed in the area since the early morning fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at demonstrators, causing dozens to suffer from excessive tear-gas inhalation.

Participants then headed toward a spring which was seized by Israeli settlers under the army guard four years ago. Clashes continued there as demonstrators threw rocks at Israeli forces, who fired tear gas at them and at the village.

The Israeli army declared the village a closed military zone early Friday in an attempt to quash the weekly demonstration.

The people of Nabi Saleh have been protesting weekly for four years, demanding that their lands confiscated by Israeli forces to build the separation wall be returned.

In al-Masara, near Bethlehem, a protest was held against Israel’s Prawer Plan to displace tens of thousands of Bedouins in the Negev Desert.

Protesters marched in the village and raised Palestinian flags and pictures of late leader Yasser Arafat, chanting against Israeli policies. As they reached the entrance of the village, dozens of Israeli soldiers were waiting. Soldiers stopped Palestinians from reaching their land using plastic armor.

Since 2006, the residents of al-Masara have protested on a weekly basis, demanding Israeli authorities return village lands confiscated in order to build the separation wall as it crosses through their town.

In Tuqu, also near Bethlehem, Israeli forces violently dispersed a protest against a tent erected by settlers at the western entrance of the village.

Dozens of activists participated in the protest, holding Palestinian flags and marching through the village.

Israeli forces formed a human shield around the tent as activists wanted to remove it. They assaulted several protesters causing a number of bruises.

Extremist Jewish groups frequently pitch tents or set up mobile camps on sites near Palestinian villages with Israeli forces’ protection in order to pave the way for the construction of permanent Israeli settlements.

Two people were injured and dozens of others suffered from tear-gas inhalation in clashes in Kafr Qaddum.

Wiqas Wael, 20, and Tariq Omar, 18, were struck with tear-gas canisters in the stomach and the back, and dozens of others suffered from excessive tear-gas inhalation and were treated at the scene.

Protests are held every Friday in Kafr Qaddum against Israel’s closure of a main road linking the village to its nearest city, Nablus.

Israel began building the separation wall in 2002, and the route has been the target of regular demonstrations by border towns whose land is cut off by its path.

Israel has regularly confiscated large plots of Palestinian land in order to build the wall. When the 435-mile barrier is complete, 85 percent of it will have been built inside the occupied West Bank.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that the separation wall was illegal and “tantamount to annexation.”

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.


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