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Israeli forces shoot, injure 3 Palestinian youth in overnight Bethlehem clashes

Oct. 11, 2016 1:54 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 11, 2016 5:43 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli troops shot and injured three Palestinian youth with live fire late Monday night during clashes near the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque -- known also as Rachel's Tomb -- just north of the city of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank.

Locals told Ma'an that one of the victims was hit in the shoulder and that two others were shot in the foot.

Locals evacuated the wounded from the scene in private vehicles. Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances arrived later and provided first aid before taking the injured to the hospital.

The clashes broke out near the al-Azza refugee camp after a group of Israeli soldiers from a military post near Rachel's Tomb deployed around a cemetery in the area between al-Azza and the Aida refugee camp.

An Israeli army official later sent footage to Ma'an from a security camera purporting to show the same three youth who were shot, hurling Molotov cocktails at an Israeli army watchtower, before the video abruptly ends, failing to show Israeli soldiers returning fire.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an they were looking into details of the incident.

The area around Rachel’s Tomb, where al-Azza, Aida, and an Israeli military base are located, was the site of near daily clashes for several months between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians when a wave of unrest erupted across the Palestinian territory and Israel last year, which has since left scores of Palestinians dead.

Monday night’s shooting of two youth in the feet came on the heels of a report released by Palestinian NGO Badil, documenting the Israeli army’s targeting of Palestinian youth with live fire in Bethlehem’s al-Duheisha refugee camp, specifically targeting youth in the kneecaps and legs.

These injuries have typically occurred during overnight raids into the refugee camp, which routinely erupt into violent clashes with Israeli forces.

According to BADIL, 30 Palestinians had been shot with live ammunition in the camp from January to mid-August, the majority in their legs and knees.

Between the end of July and mid-August, BADIL documented that 18 Palestinian youth between 14 and 27 years old were shot in their legs -- eight of which shot directly in the knee and several more in both legs -- causing both permanent and temporary disabilities.

The raids in August came came as reports emerged of an Israeli army commander responsible for Bethlehem’s three refugee camps making repeated threats to make “all youth in the camp disabled.”

The NGO has said that the threats "reinforce the claim made by BADIL that these threats and actions are not accidental or isolated incidents, but rather result from a systematic Israeli military policy aimed at suppressing resistance, terrorizing Palestinian youth, and causing permanent injuries and damage to their physical and mental well-being."

"These willful and grave breaches of international law trigger the obligations of third party states and other mandated agencies to put an end to this climate of impunity under which Israeli forces and its officials operate."

BADIL's collection of testimonies came as the latest report amid years of well documented cases of abuse and mistreatment of Palestinian children by Israeli forces in the occupied territory, including in East Jerusalem, which is under Israeli police jurisdiction.

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