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Clashes with Israeli forces spill onto Bethlehem main streets

Jan. 17, 2014 10:57 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 19, 2014 11:15 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Clashes between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces spilled over onto Bethlehem's Manger Street on Friday, after two weeks of daily confrontations in nearby Aida refugee camp.

Local activist Salah Ajarma told Ma'an that clashes between protesters and Israeli forces took place in the area around Rachel's Tomb on the main road leading through Bethlehem from Jerusalem to Hebron as well as on nearby Manger Street.

Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters at protesters as they threw rocks towards the soldiers, who blocked off Bethlehem's main streets.

There were unconfirmed reports by local activists and eyewitnesses that one protester was injured in the clashes due to excessive tear gas inhalation.

On Saturday, residents of Azza refugee camp, located near the scene of Friday's fighting, will hold memorial services to commemorate the one year anniversary of the death of Salah al-Amarin.

The 15-year-old boy was shot dead by Israeli forces during clashes in Aida refugee camp last January.

The clashes in Bethlehem come after nearly two weeks of daily clashes between Israeli forces and youth in Aida refugee camp near Rachel's Tomb.

At least three protesters have been injured in the clashes in Aida refugee camp, two due to live bullets and one due to rubber bullets, according to Ajarma.

A border police spokesman could not be reached for comment.

The areas around the holy site are a frequent site of clashes because it is surrounded on three sides by the Israeli separation wall despite being in the middle of the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.

There are 19 refugee camps in the occupied West Bank, within which live about a quarter of the 771,000 registered refugees in the territory.

More than 760,000 Palestinians -- estimated today to number 4.8 million with their descendants -- were pushed into exile or driven out of their homes in the conflict surrounding Israel's creation in 1948.
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