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2 hit by live fire critical after Ramallah-area protest

June 15, 2011 4:29 P.M. (Updated: June 17, 2011 3:25 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Seven Palestinians were injured, including two critically, Wednesday after an anti-wall protest was quashed, sparking anger in the village of Deir Qaddis, west of Ramallah.

A rally headed from the village to obstruct Israeli bulldozers digging up private lands for the construction of the separation wall, a Ma'an correspondent reported. Israeli forces were heavily deployed in the area and tried to disperse the demonstrators, beating them with clubs and rifle butts.

The use of live fire was reported, and a military official confirmed that bullets were used after one of the soldiers was attacked by protesters.

"One, a 24 year-old, was shot twice in the pelvis and in the shoulder, and the second, a 22 year-old, was shot in the back of his thigh and will require an operation," the protest organizers said in a statement.

Aiming to stop the construction of the wall and the destruction of private agricultural lands, several demonstrators managed to pass the line of soldiers and worked to stop the work of bulldozer drivers. They succeeded in stymieing the heavy machinery before soldiers fired high-velocity tear-gas canisters and stun grenades at the demonstrators.

A witness said troops "brutally attacked the demonstrators with clubs and rifle butts, injuring seven." Two young men sustained serious injuries and one protester fainted after inhaling tear-gas.

Paramedics arrived on scene and evacuated the injured, saying that the seven were set to be detained by soldiers.

"One soldier was wounded during an illegal violent riot in Deir Qaddis when stones shattered his leg. The rioters advanced on him continuing with massive stone throwing," an army spokeswoman said.

"Other soldiers felt his life to be in danger and opened fire, first in the air and, after they failed to heed warnings, they fired at the rioters."

A second soldier was lightly wounded in the incident, the army said.

Deir Qaddis mayor Faris Nasser said the protest came in response to persistent encroachment on village land by Jewish settlers from the nearby settlement of Nili.

"For the last two weeks, settlers from Nili have been using bulldozers to take our land," he said.

AFP contributed to this report.
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