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Israeli forces storm heart of Bethlehem in rare daytime raid

Dec. 26, 2013 8:37 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 28, 2013 11:47 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces raided the center of the southern West Bank cities of Bethlehem and Beit Jala on Thursday afternoon, detaining four Palestinians under heavy armed escort.

In a rare daytime raid into the heart of Palestinian Authority-controlled areas, Israeli army forces accompanied by special plain-clothes soldiers raided several homes in the center of Bethlehem after passing through the center of nearby Beit Jala.

A Ma'an correspondent said that Israeli forces stormed several homes with police dogs and caused extensive damage to Palestinian private property in order to detain four civilians.

The civilians were identified as Omar al-Harimi, 46, and his son Samy, 21, as well as Abd al-Salam Souman, 45, and his son Muhammad, 14.

The Ma'an correspondent added that Israeli forces had blockaded the neighborhood and declared the area around it a "closed military zone," preventing the entry and exit of local residents amid heavy gunfire.

The correspondent added that Israeli forces also pointed green lasers at journalists and local residents during the raid to prevent their movement.

On Wednesday night, Israeli forces stormed the neighborhood of Wadi Maale, also located near the center of Bethlehem. During that raid, they raid the homes of two Palestinian civilians, Hamzah al-Kamel and Shehadah Muhammad Shehadah and detained them.

Israeli forces also raided a third home, but the unidentified resident fled the house before Israeli forces could detain him or her.

Both Bethlehem and Beit Jala are located in Area A, the less than 20% of the West Bank that is under Palestinian civil and military control according to the Oslo Accords.

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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