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Palestinian gunmen clash with Israeli forces at Qalandiya checkpoint

Dec. 20, 2015 3:52 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 21, 2015 2:43 P.M.)
Palestinians shoot in the air during the funeral of Mohammed Kasbah, a 17-year old Palestinian who was killed by Israeli soldiers after he threw a stone at their patrol close to the Qalandiya checkpoint. (AFP/Thomas Coex, File)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Armed clashes broke out between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli forces near the Qalandiya military checkpoint near Ramallah late Saturday, locals said, injuring two teenage bystanders.

Locals told Ma’an that “Palestinian militants” hurled several pipe bombs -- a type of improvised explosive device -- at Israeli forces stationed by the checkpoint before a group of gunmen arrived and exchanged fire with the forces for around twenty minutes.

Israeli soldiers reportedly opened fire heavily at Palestinian homes and stores opposite to the military checkpoint.

Fourteen-year-old Fidaa Sheiki was hit in the abdomen with live fire while she was inside her family home adjacent to the checkpoint and an unidentified teenage boy was hit and injured in his hand, according to locals.

Witnesses said that they saw Israeli ambulances arrive to the checkpoint “likely to evacuate Israeli soldiers who were possibly injured” in the exchange.

An Israeli army spokesperson had no record of the clashes and an Israeli border police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Tensions in the Qalandiya area have been running high in recent weeks, with a Palestinian shot and detained Friday after he attempted to run his vehicle into Israeli forces at the checkpoint.

Two Palestinians were killed on Wednesday during a predawn military raid in the Qalandiya refugee camp, after reportedly attempting to carry out separate car-ramming attacks on Israeli soldiers in the camp.

The week before, armed Palestinian protesters closed the main road leading to Qalandiya checkpoint demanding that Israel release the body of a young girl killed by Israeli forces in Jerusalem on Nov. 23.

Fourteen-year-old Hadeel Wajih Awwad -- a Qalandiya camp resident -- was shot dead and her 16-year-old cousin critically injured after reportedly carrying out a stab attack with scissors in West Jerusalem.

Her body was delivered by Israeli officials on Friday and hundreds attended her funeral when she was buried in the camp's cemetery.

The week before the teen’s death, Israeli forces had killed two Palestinians in the refugee camp during a raid to demolish the home of an alleged Palestinian attacker.
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