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Israeli forces storm Aida, Azza refugee camps, detain 18 in West Bank raids

April 11, 2016 11:07 A.M. (Updated: April 11, 2016 4:39 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Clashes broke out overnight Sunday in the Aida and Azza refugee camps in Bethlehem between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces, during widespread Israeli army raids across the occupied West Bank in which at least 18 Palestinians were detained, including a Palestinian security officer.

Local sources said Israeli forces stormed Aida refugee camp in the southern occupied district of Bethlehem, firing gunshots and tear gas canisters, while Palestinians shouted “Allah Akbar” (God is great) and whistled at Israeli forces.

Witnesses told Ma’an masked Palestinian gunmen exchanged fire with Israeli soldiers near the Abu Bakr mosque in Aida. No casualties were reported.

Israeli troops also raided the nearby Azza refugee camp firing tear gas canisters, according to eyewitnesses.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an four Palestinians were detained in the district of Bethlehem. Locals added another was issued a summons.

Israeli forces also detained Palestinian security officer Muhannad Farah Salih Barghouthi from the village of Beit Rima west of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank.

His brother told Ma’an that Barghouthi -- an officer in the Palestinian Authority’s national security service -- was driving his private car from Jericho back to Ramallah when Israeli soldiers stopped him and took him into custody.

He added that Barghouthi was released from Israeli custody two years ago after serving an eight-year sentence.

Israeli forces also detained six other Palestinians in the central West Bank district of Ramallah, two Palestinians in the northern West Bank district of Jenin, three in the northern West Bank district of Nablus, and two in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, according to the Israeli army spokesperson.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 7,000 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of February.

The majority were detained in predawn detention raids carried out by the Israeli military, including in areas supposedly under full Palestinian jurisdiction according to the Oslo Accords.

Such raids often lead to clashes between locals and Israeli military forces entering their communities, regularly resulting in injury and sometimes death of Palestinian residents.
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