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Israel evacuates Nablus protest village, dozens injured

Feb. 2, 2013 7:19 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 5, 2013 1:44 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces evacuated a protest tent set up earlier on Saturday by Palestinian activists in Nablus, leading to clashes which injured at least 20 people.

Earlier, around 200 people from across the West Bank set up the "Al-Manatir neighborhood" encampment in an area of Burin village that activists say is slated for confiscation by a neighboring settlement.

Burin is squeezed between the Bracha and Yitzhar settlements, and is the target of regular settler violence.

Israeli forces raided the area and forcibly removed all activists from the site. Soldiers fired multiple tear gas canisters at the protest village, injuring at least 20 Palestinians, witnesses said.

Palestinian Authority official Ghassan Daghlas told Ma'an that during the clashes, settlers attacked Burin with fire-bombs and rocks, damaging homes, cars and setting fire to olive trees.

Earlier on Saturday, 16-year-old Zakariya Al-Najjar was hit in his thigh by a bullet fired by settlers in Burin, a Ma'an reporter said.

Groups of settlers also gathered near Yizhar settlement and threw stones at passing Palestinian cars.

Palestinians Diyaa Bani Audah, Ashraf Abu Rahmah from Bilin, Wahib Qadus, Barakat al-Najjar, Bakir al-Najjar, Ibrahim al-Najjar and Udayy Ahmad from Burin were detained by Israel's military during the clashes.

An Israeli army spokesman confirmed that seven people were arrested.

Fatah official Mahmoud al-Aloul told Ma'an that Palestinians will continue to confront settlers and illegal settlement expansion.

"If they demolish a protest village, we will erect a new one, and we will continue until the Palestinian people retrieve all their rights," he said.

Burin protesters said they had been buoyed by a report issued on Thursday by United Nations human rights investigators who called on Israel to halt settlement expansion and withdraw all settlers, adding that the practice could be subject to prosecution as a possible war crime.

The "Al-Manatir neighborhood" is the fourth such initiative in recent weeks.

The Bab al-Shams village was set up in an area where Israel plans to build the "E1" settlement, severing the West Bank from Jerusalem.

Then, locals established the al-Karamah (Dignity) village in Beit Iksa, northwest of Jerusalem, which is set to be tightly encircled by Israel's separation wall.

Last week, activists set up the Al-Asra, or prisoners, protest village in the village of Anin, northwest of Jenin.

Israeli forces have moved to evacuate the camps and dismantle their structures.

Reuters contributed to this report
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