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Clashes spread throughout West Bank

March 17, 2010 9:15 A.M. (Updated: March 19, 2010 10:45 A.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Fierce clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli forces at the Qalandiya checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem on Wednesday, as marches held across the West Bank witnessed renewed discord.

The Betillo village junction, west of Ramallah, saw further clashes between protesters and soldiers. Riot-dispersal measures were used to disperse the crowds, witnesses said, with no injuries reported. An Israeli military spokesman said the incident involved rock hurling toward patrolling border guards in the area, but did not describe the incident as a clash. He confirmed no damage or injuries at the scene.

Witnesses said violent confrontations were underway at the Beita junction, south of Nablus in the northern West Bank. No injuries or detentions were reported in the incident, which erupted at an Israeli military checkpoint.

An Israeli military spokesman said armed forces were using riot-control measures against 100 rioters.

In photos: Clashes erupt south of Nablus

Meanwhile, witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli forces expelled workers in the farmers market, shutting it down until further notice. The Israeli army said they were not familiar with the incident.

The Huwara and Beit Furik checkpoints in Nablus city were also closed, with heightened security imposed on the At-Tanib and Za'tara checkpoints.

Locals said forces manning the Huwara checkpoint prevented Palestinians from transit beginning early Wednesday. As a result, extensive traffic jams were reported, with many workers unable to return to their homes or reach their workplaces in Ramallah.

The military spokesman said neither Huwara nor Beit Furik checkpoints were sealed, but said following an earlier security assessment, more thorough searches were implemented at both checkpoints.

Meanwhile in Hebron, the army said about 20 Palestinians were throwing rocks in Anoun, north of the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement.

Israeli forces reportedly stormed the village of Beit Ummar, north of Hebron, overnight, detaining Ibrahim Said Mahmud Awad, 17, Amir Ibrahim Sabarna, 20, and Iyad Omar Sabarna, 20. An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the detentions.

Locals reported Israeli forces deployed around a school in Adh Dhariyia, south of Hebron, adding that troops employed riot-dispersal measures, including rubber-coated bullets and tear-gas, with no injuries reported.

The town further saw an early morning incursion by Israeli troops, who occupied the municipality building and used the roof as a military outpost, witnesses said. The homes of Shukry Abu Alan and Muhammad Al-Masri were stormed, they said, with no detentions reported.

According to the Israeli army, "a group of rioters hurled rocks" at forces in the area, and riot dispersal means were used. The spokesman added that no "irregular incidents" were reported.

Additionally, locals said troops surrounded the Ismail Ghaith Al-Farroukh School at the entrance of Beit Einon, east of Hebron, with no reports of confrontations. The Israeli military said a student riot had taken place, and riot dispersal means were deployed.

Palestinian Authority police prevented students from protesting near Beit Jala, apparently in a bid to prevent an escalation of the past 48 hours of violence.

However, a student march began Wednesday morning from the Al-Ubeidiya and Dar Salah schools east of Bethlehem to the Qaber Hilwa. Dozens of students participated, chanting slogans in defense of Jerusalem.

In Tuku, south of Bethlehem, demonstrators threw stones at settlers' vehicles that were passing the road. No injuries were reported. One Palestinian was detained in the incident, the Israeli army said, who was transferred to security forces for questioning and was later released. The spokesman said stones were also thrown toward Israeli forces.

Locals said Israeli forces raided the Hussan village, west of Bethlehem, and detained Shadi Khairy Za’oul, 17. The spokesman said the detained was taken for questioning by security forces and was also later released.

The violence comes a day after confrontations over access to holy sites in occupied East Jerusalem injured dozens of Palestinians and police. Over 91 Palestinians were injured, with 60 detained, officials said.

About 40 sustained wounds from rubber-coated bullets fired by Israeli forces, with seven sustaining injuries to the eye. An international journalist was injured in Eisawiyyah, an East Jerusalem neighborhood.

An Israeli police officer was shot in the hand north of Jerusalem on Tuesday evening, police said. The officer was among 14 officers injured during the confrontations, four with injuries requiring hospitalization.
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