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Israelis open fire at Bilin protest, dozens of Palestinians injured

Oct. 18, 2013 5:57 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 20, 2013 7:35 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Dozens of Palestinians suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation and one was wounded after being shot by a tear gas canister as Israeli forces opened fire on demonstrators in the West Bank town of Bilin on Friday afternoon.

Dozens of Palestinians, Israelis, and international activists were taking part in a protest against the Israeli separation wall that runs through Bilin.

Israeli forces subsequently opened fire with a large number of sound bombs, rubber bullets, and tear gas canisters.

After protesters refused to disperse, Israeli forces stationed at the wall chased activists, leading to clashes in the immediate vicinity of the wall that lasted around three hours.

Photographer Amjad Ayed Abu Rahma, 18, was arrested during the clashes, while Abdullah Yaseen, 23, was hit in the leg by a tear gas canister flying at high velocity. Dozens of other protesters suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation during the clashes.

Israeli forces targeted photographers in the vicinity of clashes and prevented an ambulance from reaching the injured. All wounded were treated following the conclusion of clashes around 3 p.m.

The protests had begun immediately following Friday prayers, and followed a path from the center of the village towards the Israeli separation wall in the village.

This week the protest was also held in solidarity with Jerusalem. Israel widely restricts access for Palestinians to the city and is accused by Palestinians of seeking to "Judaize" the city by evicting large numbers of Palestinian inhabitants. East Jerusalem has been under Israeli military control since 1967, but is an internationally recognized part of the Palestinian territories.

Since 2005, Bilin villagers have protested on a weekly basis against the Israeli separation wall that runs through their village on land confiscated from local farmers.

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.
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