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Israeli soldiers injure ten, detain ten others at demonstration

Sept. 26, 2008 8:33 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 26, 2008 8:33 P.M.)
Ramallah - Ma'an - Ten protesters were reportedly injured Friday during clashes at a demonstration near the West Bank city of Ni'lin.

The injured Palestinians suffered from teargas inhalation after Israeli soldiers fired rounds in response to rocks thrown by residents, furious that bulldozers were preparing confiscated land to build a toxic waste dump.

Ten other Palestinian youths were arrested by Israeli soldiers, who accused them of participating in the apparently peaceful rally. It was not immediately clear if the detainees were among those throwing rocks, participating in the demonstration, or both.

A spokesperson for the protest group was unavailable for comment Friday as he remains hospitalized with severe injuries sustained at another demonstration on Tuesday. He had been shot in the face by a teargas canister, causing severe bruising and blood loss, according to medical officials in Ramallah. Israeli military officials did not dispute that their soldiers fired the canister.

The spokesperson, A'hed Al-Khawarja, was briefing European Union (EU) Representative for Political Affairs Jerome Bellion-Jourdan when soldiers opened fire. But the diplomat says he informed soldiers that he was in the area on behalf of the European Union. Israeli forces ignored him, he said.

A representative from the Israeli Border Police defended the soldiers' actions to members of the Israeli press.

"Was he holding a huge sign that said, 'I am a European Union official?'" the official asked. "Border Police forces on the ground rose to the task of preventing the disruption of law and order, and an unlawful entry into a closed military zone," he said.

The European diplomat rejected the claim, adding that "there was no sign indicating that this was a closed military zone," he said.

Israeli Border officials did not deny the diplomat's account of the events or dispute that the allegedly 'closed military zone' had never been identified to the public. But a representative did tell reporters that the two men "were not leaving" when soldiers opened fire.
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