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‘The Nakba continues': Israeli forces conduct multiple raids across the occupied West Bank

May 15, 2016 11:15 A.M. (Updated: June 3, 2016 7:33 P.M.)
Israeli soldiers in Hebron (AFP/File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces raided multiple neighborhoods across the occupied West Bank overnight Saturday, detaining at least three Palestinians, launching tear gas canisters and stun grenades, and setting fire to olive trees, as Palestinians around the world commemorated the 68th anniversary of the Nakba.

In the northern district of Qalqiliya, dozens of Palestinians suffered from tear gas inhalation, and several trees caught fire when clashes erupted between local youths and Israeli forces in the village of Kafr Qaddum.

Coordinator for a popular resistance committee in the village Murad Shtewei said the Israeli army "turned Kafr Qaddum's sky into a cloud of poisonous gas" after firing tear gas heavily and randomly. Dozens of olive trees in the area caught fire from Israeli forces-fired tear gas and stun grenades.

Shtewei added that civil defense vehicles were prevented from reaching the fire because Israeli forces had closed the roads with dirt berms, forcing firefighters to walk up a hill to control the fire.

To the south in the occupied West Bank district of Hebron, Israeli forces raided the downtown, al-Khila, and al-Thahir areas of the village of Beit Ummar, detaining one Palestinian.

Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad said Israeli forces raided the house of Ibrahim Abd al-Hamid Abu Maria, and detained his son Abd al-Nasir, 19.

In the southern district of Bethlehem, abnormally excessive use of force by Israeli forces was reported during an overnight raid in al-Azza refugee camp.

Locals reported a night of chaos marked by at least three explosions and two sets of exchange of fire while Israeli forces showered the camp with tear gas.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an Israeli forces detained two Palestinians near Bethlehem and one next to Ramallah in the occupied West Bank overnight. She added she was looking into the reports of clashes in al-Azza and Kafr Qaddum.

Saturday night’s raids come as Palestinians around the world commemorated on Sunday the 68th anniversary of the beginning of the Nakba, or catastrophe, when 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced during the creation of the state of Israel.

Many perceive the 1948 atrocities -- marked by the destruction of 531 Palestinian towns and villages as well as 33 massacres by Israel -- as just the beginning of a Nakba that has continued unabated to this day.

“Since 1948, Israel has employed deliberate and systematic acts of violence, colonialism, and destruction at the expense of the Palestinian people, their rights, lands, and resources,” Senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said in a press release published Saturday titled, “The Nakba continues.”

Israel’s systematic dispossession and forced displacement of the Palestinian people entered a new era in 1967, when Israel illegally occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, creating another 430,000 Palestinian refugees, according to the PLO.

The decades-long occupation of the Palestinian territory is marked by near-nightly raids by Israeli forces into Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank, with more than 90 search and arrest operations conducted per week since the start of the year, according to UN documentation.

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