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Israel opens Jericho checkpoints after two-hour closure

Oct. 10, 2008 8:12 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 10, 2008 8:12 P.M.)
Jericho - Ma'an - Israeli security forces reopened all entrances to the West Bank city of Jericho after a two-hour closure on Friday.

A Ma'an correspondent reported that Israeli soldiers had closed its multiple military checkpoints installed at the entrances of the city, obstructing residents' movement in the Jordan Valley in response to what they say were gunshots heard coming from the illegal Israeli settlement of Betsael, which is adjacent to the Al-Fasayel village.

But Palestinian Authority (PA) commander Khalid Abu Kamel told Ma'an that "the Israeli procedure was unjustifiable," claiming that the Israeli allegations about the shooting were false.

Israeli commanders reportedly told Kamel that its military coordination office had moved an injured man from the area in an ambulance headed toward Jericho.

But Kamel said the Israeli reports were false, as "a Red Crescent medic vehicle was at the scene for the duration of the gunfire coming from inside the settlement." Kamel said it had arrived there to pick up an 80-year-old Palestinian man named Ishtayan Farraj Shlayfah who had reportedly suffered a stroke. Kamel said the ambulance picked him up at his home in Al-Fasayel, a village near the city.

Two hours later, the Israeli military announced it was lifting the closure of Jericho and the Jordan Valley.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society confirmed Kamel's account of the events on Friday, saying that the elderly man had been suffering "serious health conditions" and that the stroke is his third. He is in the intensive care unit at a Jericho hospital.
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