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Beit Jala protesters say police used excessive force

June 27, 2010 7:13 P.M. (Updated: June 28, 2010 4:36 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - What organizers called a peaceful rally in Beit Jala on Sunday ended with the detention of four protesters and the injury of three others.

"Soldiers used excessive force" one protester told Ma'an, firing sound bombs, tear-gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets at the group, which marched toward the Cremisan winery, where the path of the wall continues to snake toward the monastery vineyard.

Head of the popular committee against the wall in Beit Jala, Imad Abu Nassar, said soldiers used batons against what he described as "peaceful protesters" injuring two, while a two others were injured by tear-gas canisters.

Among the three protesters detained at the rally, was Huwieda Arraf who participated in Free Gaza Flotilla, Abu Nassar told Ma'an.

Homes on Old Cremisan Street were intentionally targeted, Abu Nassar said, noting that tear-gas canisters were fired toward the residential area.

"We will continue with our peaceful struggle, of which today's actions were a clear violation. We have the right to demand the retention of our lands, and we will send a message to Israel and the international community that we will not give them up even by force," protester Elie Shahada told Ma'an.

A border police representative could not be reached by phone for comment on the allegations of excessive use of force.

Previous statements by Israeli officials have held that force is only used following violence by protesters, an accusation that Beit Jala rallies in particular have vociferously denied.

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