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Israeli forces blockade Bethlehem-area village after nearby stabbing

Feb. 10, 2016 10:42 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 11, 2016 9:56 A.M.)
(AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli army intensified its blockade on the village of Nahhalin west of Bethlehem on Wednesday morning, a day after an Israeli settler was wounded in a stabbing near the village.

Locals told Ma'an via telephone that Israeli forces had sealed all Nahhalin's roads, preventing residents from entering and leaving, including humanitarian cases.

The blockade began Tuesday evening after an Israeli settler was stabbed and moderately wounded while jogging outside the illegal settlement of Neve Daniel. He reportedly said that the attacker had fled in the direction of Nahhalin.

A member of the village council, Mahmoud Fannoun, said that Israeli soldiers set up military checkpoints on all routes into the village denying all residents passage in and out.

Food suppliers who distribute to the town’s stores everyday had also been denied entry.

Fannoun said that large numbers of Israeli troops had been deployed in and around the village and were using police dogs as part of their manhunt.

He said soldiers had detained three local men after ransacking a number of homes across the village. They were identified as 50-year-old Muhammad Najajra, his son Nathin, 27, and Ahmad Jawdat Najajra, 22.

Fannoun said that dozens of other young men had been interrogated in the open, despite severely cold weather.

The roads were sealed with mounds of earth and buildings under construction were being used to barracks soldiers, he said.

Workers were unable to leave the town to reach their working places, including 500 teachers who work in different public schools in the Bethlehem area.

An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed that "security measures" had been enforced around Nahhalin "as part of the search for the suspect."

She said that all the village's "entrances and exits" had been closed, although she said that humanitarian cases were being allowed through.

In recent months, the Israeli army has regularly blockaded West Bank villages following small-scale attacks by Palestinians, in what rights groups have decried as "collective punishment."
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