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Israeli forces open fire on protests across West Bank, injuring dozens

Nov. 1, 2013 8:31 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 4, 2013 10:52 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel forces injured dozens of Palestinians and international activists after opening fire on protests across the West Bank on Friday.

Weekly protests against the Israeli occupation and separation wall took place in the towns of Nabi Saleh, Bilin, and al-Masara, and dozens were wounded after Israeli forces opened fire with rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters to disperse them.

In Nabi Saleh, Israeli forces dispersed demonstrators who marched towards village lands that were confiscated in order to build the separation wall that cuts through their village.

Demonstrators chanted songs for unity and condemning Israeli "crimes," including the killing of 5 Palestinians in Jenin and Gaza in recent days. Israeli forces subsequently fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets, and as a result dozens suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation.

The Israeli army had declared the village a closed military zone in the early hours of the morning and dozens of soldiers were deployed to limit people's movement.

The people of Nabi Saleh have been protesting weekly for four years, demanding that their lands confiscated by Israeli forces to build the separation wall be returned.

In Bilin, four Palestinians were injured and dozens suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation as Israeli soldiers dispersed the weekly demonstration.

Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas at protesters as they marched near their confiscated lands near the wall.

Ahmad Burnat, 20, Iyad Burnat, 40, Farhan Burnat, 36, and an unnamed Norwegian activist, 30, were struck by rubber-coated steel bullets in different parts of their bodies. Dozens of others suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation.

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.

In al-Masara, a village south of Bethlehem, dozens suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation as Israeli forces dispersed the weekly protest on Friday.

Popular Struggle Committee Coordinator in Bethlehem Hassan Brejia said that Israeli forces had used tear gas to disperse protesters, who were marching in order to celebrate the freeing of 26 Palestinian prisoners earlier this week.

Since 2006, the residents of al-Masara have protested on a weekly basis, demanding Israeli authorities return village lands confiscated in order to build the separation wall as it crosses through their town.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice called on Israel to stop construction of the separation wall within the occupied West Bank.

When completed, 85 percent of the wall will run inside the West Bank.

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.

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