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Israeli forces disperse weekly protests across West Bank

Jan. 3, 2014 3:56 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 5, 2014 7:41 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces injured two Palestinians and detained one after protests broke out in three West Bank towns on Friday.

The weekly protests against the Israeli occupation and the separation wall were dispersed by Israeli forces with rubber bullets and tear gas in Bilin, Kafr Qaddum, and al-Masara.

Bilin

Two were injured and dozens of Palestinian as well as Israeli and international solidarity protesters suffered from excessive use of tear gas in the weekly protest in the central West Bank town of Bilin on Friday.

Israeli forces opened fire with rubber-coated bullets, tear gas canisters, and stun grenades in the direction of protesters as the demonstration arrived near village lands near the wall.

Abd al-Rahman Beitillu, 16, was shot in the leg and Palestine TV cameraman Najib Sharawna suffered from extremely severe tear gas inhalation and had to be taken to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah.

The march was held in memory of the 49th anniversary of the launch of the "contemporary Palestinian resistance," which refers to the Jan. 3, 1965 operation that launched the Fatah movement.

The protest also marked the third anniversary of the death of Palestinian activist Jawaher Abu Rahmah, who was died after choking to death on tear gas fired by Israeli forces during a Bilin protest.

During the protest, the Italian Association for Peace "Assopace" in cooperation with the Human Supporters Association in Nablus performed a puppet show depicting their opposition to injustice.

The participants raised Palestinian flags and banners of the Fatah movement, and marched along the streets of the village chanting slogans calling for national unity.

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.

Al-Masara

Israeli forces on Friday also dispersed a demonstration in al-Masara near Bethlehem.

The demonstration started at the center of the village, and participants raised Palestinian flags.

The demonstration was held in solidarity with Palestinian refugees under siege in al-Yarmouk refuge camp in Syria, and to refuse land swaps with Israel as a part of ongoing peace negotiations.

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.

Kafr Qaddum

Israeli forces detained a Palestinian man during clashes with protesters in the village of Kafr Qaddum near Qalqiliya on Friday afternoon, locals said.

Witnesses said hundreds of Palestinians were protesting the closure of the main entrance to the northern West Bank village when Israeli forces fired tear gas at them, causing several protesters to suffer from excessive tear gas inhalation.

Locals said 24-year-old Aqel Mahmoud Eshtawi was detained and taken to an unknown destination after being ambushed by Israeli forces.

An Israeli army spokeswoman did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Protests are held every Friday in Kafr Qaddum against Israel's closure of a main road linking the village to its nearest city, Nablus. The road has been closed since 2000.

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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