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Unrest in Hebron, Beit Ummar sees dozens injured

March 19, 2010 5:04 P.M. (Updated: March 20, 2010 3:28 P.M.)
Hebron - Ma'an – Following Friday prayers on Hebron's Tareq bin Ziad Street, clashes erupted between tens of worshipers and Israeli soldiers guarding the Ibrahimi Mosque, witnesses said.

An Israeli military spokesman said soldiers responded with "riot dispersal mechanisms" when approximately 80 individuals began "hurling rocks and burning tires" in what he called a "violent illegal riot."

Fifteen were injured, Red Crescent medics confirmed, with eight treated for tear-gas inhalation in the field, and six hospitalized including one man who was struck with a rubber-coated bullet during the clash, officials at the Al-Muhtaseb Hospital in Hebron said.

Onlookers said soldiers fired on a Red Crescent ambulance as it evacuated some of the injured, shattering its windshield. The military spokesman said he was unfamiliar with the incident, and noted troops used no live or rubber-coated bullets during the clash.

Witnesses described Israeli soldiers mounting the roof of a Palestinian home near the mosque, declaring it a military post for the duration of the unrest. Neighbors identified the home as belonging to Ali Abu Sneina.

Beit Ummar

Twelve kilometers north of Hebron in Beit Ummar, Palestinian Solidarity spokesman Mohammad Awwad said 20 residents suffered tear-gas inhalation, and another six were hit with rubber-coated bullets as protests erupted in the town.

Awwad said the rally was spontaneous, and occurred as residents exited the central mosque. "A large number of Israeli soldiers were deployed [near the town]," Awwad said, saying "young men hurled stones at the soldiers who fired tear-gas canisters."

Young men also reportedly threw stones at passing settler cars after Israeli forces entered the town, and clashes erupted in the A’seeda neighborhood. Awwad noted live fire was directed toward the home of Kahled Auda Za’aqeeq during the violence.

Following the clashes, a Palestinian ambulance was denied entry into Beit Ummar by soldiers guarding the area, and were forced to treat the injured in the field, Awwad added.

An Israeli military spokesman said he would look into the reports.

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