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Witnesses: Army fires tear gas at US, PA officials

Jan. 29, 2011 12:31 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 29, 2011 12:31 A.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Thursday fired tear gas and stun grenades at senior US and Palestinian officials and farmers planting tress near Hebron, witnesses said.

US consulate officials, settlement and wall affairs minister Maher Ghuneim, Hebron governor Kamil Hamid and Beit Ummar mayor Nasri Sabarneh joined farmers in Safa to plant trees on land slated for confiscation by Israel.

The farmers are frequently denied access to their land by settlers and Israeli soldiers.

A US Consulate's political attaché left the scene when Israeli soldiers arrived, onlookers said.

Palestinian Authority security sources said Israeli forces seized a PA car and detained PA officers for 30 minutes.

Soldiers used the PA patrol as a shield to protect them from farmers who were throwing stones toward them, locals said.

Meanwhile, residents of the illegal Susiya settlement south of Hebron assaulted local resident Ibrahim An-Nawajah, while soldiers detained two of his sons, Iyad and Nasir, witnesses said.

In a separate incident, settlers from nearby Beit Hagai attacked Salman Yusef At-Tubasi, 26, and handed him over at gunpoint to Israeli troops who detained him, locals reported.

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