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Israeli forces raid Beit Ummar in Hebron district, ransack store

Oct. 15, 2016 4:00 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 16, 2016 6:15 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces Friday night raided the village of Beit Ummar in the occupied West Bank district of Hebron, including breaking the iron security gates of a local store, smashing the glass doors, and ransacking it, while also raiding the home of a former prisoner.

Muhammad Awwad, an activist against illegal Israeli settlements in Beit Ummar, told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided a store belonging to Ibrahim Khalil Kamel Ikhlayyil after breaking down the store’s security gates, despite the fact that the owner was present after being informed by neighbors that Israeli soldiers were attempting to break into his store.

Awwad added that despite Ikhlayyil bringing keys to the store, soldiers continued breaking the gates and smashing the glass doors, adding that the incident was caught on the store’s surveillance camera.

Israeli soldiers also reportedly damaged materials in the store and stole “many” cigarette packs.

Ikhlayyil estimated that the losses from the raid was worth some 15,000 shekels ($3,926), and added that the raid went on for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces also raided the home of former prisoner Sufian Zaki Odeh Bahr in the al-Baten area of Beit Ummar, and took pictures of his home from the outside. Israeli soldiers also took pictures of his car and the IDs of both him and his wife.

Israeli soldiers also wrote down Bahr’s mobile number.

An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports.

Earlier this week, Israeli forced closed the main entrance of Beit Ummar and set up several Israeli military posts, a local activist told Ma’an at the time.

Muhammad Ayyad said that Israeli forces closed the large iron gate constructed at the entrance of the village next to an Israeli watchtower that serves as a permanent Israeli checkpoint. The closure prevented residents from marching in the funeral of local deceased woman Mariam Saed Awad, according to Ayyad.

Israeli forces also closed commercial shops in the village and prevented cars from parking or temporarily pulling over on the side of the village’s streets.

Beit Ummar, which is located in the northwestern part of the Hebron district, routinely comes under target of Israeli forces for periodic closures and military raids following Palestinian attacks on Israeli's.

Friday's raids came on the heels of violent detention raids and tightening security restrictions across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank following Sunday’s deadly shooting that left an Israeli police officer and an Israeli woman killed before the attacker, Misbah Abu Sbeih, was shot to death by Israeli forces.

Beit Ummar is commonly closed and raided following such attacks, as the village sits near an Israeli bypass road (Route 60) -- used by Israeli settlers to travel to and from illegal settlements in the West Bank, while also being located near several Israeli settlements.

Israeli forces conduct night raids across the occupied Palestinian territory on a near-daily basis. According to UN documentation, the Israeli army carried out 186 detention raids from Sept. 6 to 19.

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