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Four Israeli soldiers injured in tear gas accident in Bilin

Feb. 7, 2014 8:49 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 10, 2014 11:51 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Four Israeli soldiers suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation on Friday afternoon after an accident near the central West Bank village of Bilin.

The soldiers were injured after tear gas canisters exploded inside a military vehicle.

At the time of accident, the vehicle was chasing village youths amid clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers, Palestine 24 quoted media coordinator for the Popular Campaign Against the Wall in Bilin Rateb Abu Rahma as saying.

"The tear gas began to spread inside the vehicle, leading to their suffocation because they were unable to get out quickly enough," Abu Rahma said.

"The soldiers then got out of the jeep and threw their weapons on the ground, before another military patrol came to their aid and treated them on the spot."

"After that, they continued chasing local youths," he added.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that during the course of "a violent riot ... a border policeman was injured due to a malfunction in his gear," without elaborating.

Dozens of youths are regularly injured by excessive tear gas inhalation during weekly clashes in Bilin, which have been ongoing since 2005.

Villagers have protest 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 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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