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B'Tselem: Israel denies 'right to protest' in West Bank

Sept. 12, 2011 11:15 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 15, 2011 11:06 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli military systematically denies Palestinians the right to protest in the West Bank, a report published Monday by the Israeli rights group B'Tselem says.

The 'Show of Force' report finds that Israel does not recognize the "basic right" of Palestinians to protest and responds to demonstrations with an "excessive use of crowd control weapons."

The army often fires tear gas canisters "directly at protesters," a practice which B'Tselem says violates the military's own orders.

In most cases the army treats protests as "disturbances" and disperses processions even in the absence of violent acts by protesters, according to the report.

B'Tselem examined the conduct of Israeli forces in weekly demonstrations held in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh over the past year and a half.

It found that the response of the Israeli army indiscriminately harms all village residents through the closure of roads and the imposition of Friday curfews which expose a large number of people to delays and restrictions.

Residents are also exposed to the effects of excessive tear gas which "penetrates their homes."

The Israeli rights group documented four consecutive demonstrations with video and field observation between June 17 and July 8 and interviewed village residents.

The Israeli military does not "recognize the right to demonstrate" in the West Bank, B'Tselem stated. It called on the Israeli army to respect Palestinians' right to protest and use "proportionate" means where necessary to disperse protesters.

The way in which Israeli forces conduct themselves during demonstrations in Nabi Saleh could well indicate how the military will respond to protests expected around the Palestinian UN bid, the rights group added.
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