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Israeli forces open fire on Nakba Day protests

May 16, 2015 12:46 A.M. (Updated: May 16, 2015 11:29 A.M.)
NABLUS (AFP) -- Israeli soldiers fired tear gas, rubber and live bullets at Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip on Friday, wounding at least 21 people, medics and security sources said.

Clashes took place near Ramallah and farther north in Nablus, after a new Israeli cabinet took office and as Palestinians marked 67 years since the Nakba, or "catastrophe," that befell them when Israel was established in 1948.

At a demonstration outside Ofer military prison near the West Bank administrative center of Ramallah, dozens of protesters stoned soldiers who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, an AFP correspondent said.

Medics said seven Palestinians were wounded.

In separate clashes in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, rubber bullets and live fire by soldiers wounded at least 10 Palestinians, security sources and witnesses said.

The Israeli army confirmed the clashes, but denied that live rounds were fired.

More than 1,000 settlers from nearby Jewish settlements were bused into the city to visit Joseph's Tomb early in the day, and soldiers blocked off roads leading to the pilgrimage site, Palestinian witnesses and security sources said.

Palestinians protested, some throwing stones, before clashes with the army erupted.

A spokeswoman for the military said soldiers had "escorted" up to 3,000 Jewish visitors to the tomb since Wednesday evening, and that a crowd of some 200 Palestinians had approached the area throwing stones and burning tires.

Soldiers used "riot dispersal" means, she said.

Rallies in Gaza

In Gaza, which is still recovering nine months after last summer's devastating war between Israel and de facto rulers Hamas, Israeli troops on the border fired live rounds at Nakba Day protesters, wounding four, the enclave's interior ministry medical spokesperson said.

Three demonstrators were hit at a demonstration staged by dozens of people near the border fence east of Gaza City, and a fourth was shot at a similar protest near Khan Younis in the south, Ashraf al-Qudra said.

The Israeli army said it had fired at the "lower extremities" of five people who approached the border fence, after warning them not to come any closer.

Under Israel's blockade of the coastal territory, Gaza residents are not allowed within 100 meters (yards) of the border fence on foot, or 300 meters in a vehicle.

Israeli soldiers often fire at Palestinians who come closer.

The protests were significantly smaller than the main demonstration in Gaza City, which was attended by 2,000 people, an AFP correspondent said.

At the rally, a Hamas speaker called for "continuing the resistance against the enemy Israel, until we liberate Palestine."

Israel and Hamas fought a 50-day war in July and August last year that killed about 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 73 people on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.

After Israel's establishment in 1948, more than 760,000 Palestinians -- estimated today to number around 5.5 million with their descendants -- were violently expelled from their homes, with the catastrophe marked every May 15.

For the Palestinians, the right to return to homes they fled or were forced out of is a prerequisite for any peace agreement with Israel, but it is a demand that Israel has rejected out of hand.

Israel on Thursday formed a new rightwing government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Palestinian officials have said the new lineup pushes the prospects of peace farther away than ever.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report.
spb / usa
where there's Nakba there's fire
16/05/2015 02:30
Israel remember what Moses said :" LET MY PEOPLE GO". Palestinians yearn to be free. It is their right to be free. Controlling them will never give Israel security.
16/05/2015 04:52
Outlier / USA
Joe, it will have to do until security comes along. In the meantime, Palestinians might consider negotiating for their freedom.
17/05/2015 02:23
inbound39 / New Zealand
More and more in full view of the International Media the immoral IDF are seen clearly as nothing more than gutless cowards.
17/05/2015 08:20
palomaloma / USA
The Israelis are digging their own grave. Ruthless brutality and lack of decency and morality will bring about the demise of this thuggish mafia. Their day of reckoning is coming and this time they only have themselves to blame. Nurenberg !
17/05/2015 19:51
Tibi / Tubas
-1- Sumud, "steadfast perseverance", is good, but reason is better, and
Palestinians should have learned over the decades, that
-2- Clashes never changed anything, except their numbers being sent to jails, hospitals, and morgues !!
18/05/2015 18:31
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