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5 shot as Israeli forces disperse protests across West Bank

Jan. 17, 2014 7:43 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 19, 2014 2:35 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces injured five Palestinian protesters with rubber-coated steel bullets and caused dozens more to suffer from excessive tear gas inhalation as they dispersed protests across the West Bank on Friday.

The weekly protests against the Israeli occupation and separation wall were violently dispersed by Israeli forces in Bilin, al-Masara, Kafr Qaddam, and Tuqu.

Bilin

In the village of Bilin in the central West Bank, five protesters were injured and dozens suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation as Israeli soldiers dispersed a protest against the separation wall and renewed Israeli settlement construction on Palestinian land.

Protesters also marched in solidarity with the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, which has been besieged by the Syrian regime since July of last year.

Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, stun grenades, and exploding bullets at protesters as they neared lands close to the wall that were previously confiscated from villagers by Israeli forces.

Coordinator for the popular resistance committee Abdullah Abu Rahma, 43, was injured by a tear gas canister that struck him in the back while Rashid Khatib, 20, Eid al-Khatib, 20, photographer Mohammad Yassin, 21, and Ashraf Abu Rahma, 35, were struck by rubber-coated steel bullets in the legs and feet.

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 dispersed the weekly demonstration in al-Masara village south of Bethlehem.

The demonstration started in the center of the village in solidarity with Yarmouk camp and to mark the 23rd anniversary of the assassination of three PLO members in Tunisia in 1991.

The coordinator for the popular committee in Bethlehem Hassan Brejia condemned the ongoing siege of Yarmouk and called for international intervention to end it.

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

A number of protesters suffered from bruises, burns, and excessive tear gas inhalation in clashes with Israeli forces in Kafr Qaddum in the northern West Bank near Qalqiliya.

Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades at protesters as they arrived at the eastern entrance of the village, which is kept closed by Israeli forces.

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.

Tuqu

Dozens of protesters suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation in clashes with Israeli forces in Tuqu, east of Bethlehem.

Locals said that Israeli forces fired tear gas and stun grenades during the clashes which broke out in the Madares area of the village.

In November, settlers erected an illegal outpost near the village, and have since then chopped down large numbers of olive trees and encroached upon nearby lands belonging to the village.

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."

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.
Ma'an News Agency
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