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Israeli forces kill Palestinian in protest near Bethlehem

July 23, 2014 9:29 A.M. (Updated: July 23, 2014 9:47 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian man and injured two across the West Bank early Wednesday, as protests against the ongoing Israeli military assault in Gaza that has left more than 600 Palestinians dead intensified.

Mahmud Hamamra, 32, was shot in the chest after clashes broke out early Wednesday following a rally in the Bethlehem-area village of Husan, Palestinian security sources told AFP.

Locals told Ma'an that Hamamra received a deadly gunshot in the chest during clashes which continued until the early morning hours on Wednesday.

A Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance evacuated Hamamrah to the nearby Beit Jala Governmental Hospital where he was operated on and then transferred to al-Mizan Hospital in Hebron.

Director of al-Mizan Hospital Dr. Hazim Shalaldah told Ma'an that the victim was in an extremely critical condition when he arrived and that after several resuscitation attempts, doctors had to announce his death early Wednesday morning.

An Israeli army spokeswoman told AFP that he had been one of about of about 50 people throwing rocks and petrol bombs at soldiers.

"One of the protesters was apparently hit by rubber bullets and died from that," she said.

The death was the second in the West Bank in the last two days, as protests have broken out over the last two weeks in solidarity against an Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 600.

Two young men were also injured in the Ramallah-area village of Silwad early on Wednesday morning in clashes with Israeli forces.

Palestinian medical sources confirmed that two injured young men were evacuated to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah, one of them seriously injured.

Local sources said that Israeli soldiers blocked ambulances from accessing the young man during the clashes.

The sources said dozens of young Palestinian men had clashed with Israeli soldiers who raided the village, and protestors had used fireworks against the soldiers in response.

Israeli soldiers fired heavily at the protestors using live ammunition, rubber-coated bullets and tear gas canisters.

An Israeli military spokeswoman, meanwhile, said that one protester was injured in the leg after Israeli forces opened fire with 22 caliber bullets at the "main instigators" of a "riot" on a road between Silwad and Route 60.

She added that the man was "evacuated by his friends," and while she did not know of ambulances being stopped specifically, she confirmed that the road itself had been closed "because of the rioters."

In northern Bethlehem intense clashes also broke out as Israeli forces fired tear gas grenades, stun grenades, and a foul-smelling chemical at protesters marching in solidarity with Gaza as well.

Earlier on Wednesday night, president Mahmoud Abbas pledged that Israel would be held accountable for Gaza deaths.

"We will pursue all those who commit crimes against our people, however long it takes," he said in televised comments ahead of an emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.

The meeting's concluding statement called for "widespread popular protest in solidarity with Gaza and the resistance."

AFP contributed to this report.
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