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Palestinian dies of tear gas inhalation, 40 others wounded in clashes at Qalandiya

July 1, 2016 1:48 P.M. (Updated: July 3, 2016 3:40 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian man was pronounced dead on Friday after suffering from excessive tear gas inhalation when Israeli forces heavily fired tear gas at crowds, reportedly wounding some 40 others, as Palestinians attempted to cross the Qalandiya checkpoint from Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank into occupied East Jerusalem to attend prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

The man, identified by medical sources as Muhammad Mustafa Habash, 63, from the Asira al-Shamaliya village in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, was one of at least 40 Palestinians who suffered from severe tear gas inhalation during clashes that broke out at the Qalandiya checkpoint.

Witnesses told Ma’an that Palestinian Red Crescent paramedics were prevented by Israeli forces from treating the man at the start of the incident. However, they eventually were able to reach him.

A paramedic gave the man CPR before he was transported to the Ramallah Governmental Hospital for treatment and put in intensive care.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health later pronounced the man dead.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an they were looking into reports. A Palestinian Red Crescent spokesperson was not immediately available for comment on the incident.

Clashes erupted between Israeli forces and young Palestinian men who were prevented from crossing the checkpoint to attend prayers on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Israeli forces showered the crowded area with tear gas bombs, causing dozens to suffer from tear gas inhalation.

Witnesses also told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers beat Palestinians at the checkpoint with the butts of their guns and batons. Video footage of the clashes released by Israeli media showed Israeli forces on horseback charging at the crowds encased by tear gas, with the sound of explosions in the background.

Throughout the holy month of Ramadan this year, Palestinian men under 45 in the occupied West Bank have been prohibited from traveling to East Jerusalem to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Men over 45 years old, Palestinian children under 12, and women of all ages have permitted to travel to Jerusalem for Friday prayers.

Following an attack in Tel Aviv last month, Israeli authorities froze the permits of 83,000 Palestinians to enter Israel and occupied East Jerusalem, causing increased tension and unrest at checkpoints between the West Bank and Jerusalem, particularly Qalandiya.

The Qalandiya checkpoint has been the site violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces and the site of a number of alleged attacks and attempted attacks against Israeli targets since a wave of unrest swept across the Palestinian territory in October.
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