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Soldiers try to use journalists as 'human shields' in Aida clashes

March 22, 2014 9:25 P.M. (Updated: March 24, 2014 10:39 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A journalist said that Israeli soldiers tried to use him and two colleagues as "human shields" while they were covering clashes in Aida refugee camp north of Bethlehem on Saturday afternoon.

Journalist Musa al-Shaer said that soldiers detained him and his colleague Abd al-Rahman Yunus, as well as an American journalist, while they were covering clashes in the camp between local youths and Israeli forces.

Additionally, al-Shaer told Ma'an that Israeli soldiers had prevented them from doing their work and tried to use them as "human shields" against local youths who were throwing rocks.

Al-Shaer said that the soldiers released them and returned their press cards, but refused to give any reason for their detention.

During the clashes, Israeli forces fired stun grenades and tear gas grenades into the camp, injuring several residents by excessive tear gas inhalation.

An Israeli army spokesman said that "100 Palestinians were hurling rocks at security forces," but was not aware of any incident involving the journalists.

The clashes come after Israeli forces killed three Palestinians during a raid in the northern West Bank city of Jenin.

Aida camp is a frequent site of clashes because it is located beside Rachel's Tomb, which is surrounded on three sides by the Israeli separation wall despite being in the middle of the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.

Israeli forces shot more than 20 youths with rubber-coated steel bullets and live bullets during clashes that occurred almost daily in December and January, and clashes continue to break out occasionally in the area.

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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