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Israeli forces disperse Palestinian protests across West Bank

Oct. 4, 2013 5:29 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 6, 2013 2:39 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces injured dozens of Palestinian activists on Friday at demonstrations against the Israeli separation wall across the occupied West Bank.

In Bilin, west of Ramallah, six were injured and dozens suffered tear-gas inhalation as Israelis attacked demonstrations protesting the separation wall and demanding the return of village lands illegally confiscated to build the wall.

Previous protests by Bilin activists have forced the Israeli authorities to re-route the wall, but large chunks of the village lands remain inaccessible to residents because of the route.

Palestine Satellite Channel reporters Ali Dar, Salah al-Khawaja, and Mohammad Abed, 19, were struck by tear-gas canisters, while Mohammad Abdul-Fattah Burnat, 24, was shot by a rubber-coated steel bullet in the back. Luisa Morgantini, former vice president of the European Parliament, and lawmaker Mustafa Barghouthi were also among the injured.

Barghouthi said Israeli forces attacked the demonstration and fired stun grenades, tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets widely.

He added that Israeli soldiers tried to restrict the movement of ambulances and paramedics.

Barghouthi argued that Israeli “suppression” would not break the will of Palestinians, and he added that the popular resistance along with the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel was the way to end settlement activity and increase the steadfastness of Palestinians.

In Kafr Qaddum, near Qalqiliya, dozens suffered tear-gas inhalation as hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces who fired tear gas and stun grenades.

Coordinator for the Popular Struggle Committee Murad Shtewi said that hundreds had participated in the demonstration in order to mark the olive-picking season. In Kafr Qaddum, several villagers were prohibited from reaching their lands to harvest their olive trees, he added.

During olive-picking season, Israeli settlers often attack Palestinian farmers as they attempt to harvest their crops and the Israeli occupation forces often defend settlers as they launch attacks.

In Nabi Saleh, protesters marched toward confiscated village lands but were stopped by Israeli forces who fired tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and stun grenades.

Demonstrators raised Palestinian flags and chanted slogans condemning the Israeli occupation, settlements and international impunity towards Israeli action.

Israeli forces had earlier closed the village’s entrances and deployed dozens of soldiers near a spring that was seized by settlers four years ago. They declared the area a closed military zone, a common Israeli tactic for appropriation of Palestinian land for military or settlement usage.

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law. The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.

Israel began building the separation wall in 2002, and the route has been the target of regular demonstrations by border towns whose land is cut off by its path. Israel has regularly confiscated large plots of Palestinian land in order to build the wall. When the 435-mile barrier is complete, 85 percent of it will have been built inside the occupied West Bank.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that the separation wall was illegal and "tantamount to annexation."

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