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Israeli forces storm Hebron-area refugee camp, injure 33 with live fire, tear gas, rubber bullets

Aug. 16, 2016 10:54 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 10, 2016 11:11 A.M.)
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- At least 33 Palestinians were injured, one seriously, early Tuesday morning during clashes when Israeli forces stormed the al-Fawwar refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron.

Locals told Ma’an that large numbers of Israeli troops surrounded the camp around dawn on Tuesday, when they began ransacking homes and interrogating residents in the streets.

The spokesperson of the Palestinian National Committee for Retrieving Bodies of Martyrs, Amin al-Bayed, said that Israeli forces raided and searched several houses in the camp and interrogated many residents.

“Israeli forces have positioned snipers on top of Palestinian rooftops, and snipers shot at lower body parts, mostly at legs, and injured tens of Palestinians,” al-Bayed said.

Local youth reportedly reacted to the forces, sparking clashes with the soldiers who fired live gunshots, tear gas, and rubber-coated steel bullets at the youth.

Palestinian Red Crescent staff told Ma’an that they provided medical care for 33 injured Palestinians in al-Fawwar, including five who suffered from live-bullet injuries, one of whom was evacuated to the hospital after sustaining serious injuries.

Dozens more were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets.

Witnesses said Israeli soldiers stopped an ambulance belonging to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, which was trying to evacuate the young man who was seriously injured with live fire, and prevented the ambulance from leaving the camp.

The ambulance, locals said, was allowed to leave the refugee camp about an hour later.

UN medical sources said that they opened a makeshift medical clinic in the camp to compensate for the shortage of medical supplies of the clinic in the camp, adding that "many injured Palestinians were seen lying in the streets, and we are working along with Red Crescent teams to provide medical help.”

An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports.

Locals said that Israeli forces raided the house of Amya Abd al-Rahman Abdullah al-Qawasmi searching for weapons. Israeli soldiers then reportedly detained al-Qawasmi and his son Abd al-Rahman after claiming to have found a broken gun in the house.

Israeli forces claimed that they raided the camp looking for weapons and wanted Palestinians.

Israeli forces allegedly found two guns, one commando knife, sound bombs, and different types of bullets during the raids that were ongoing as of 11 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Israeli raids in Palestinian towns, villages, and refugee camps are a daily occurrence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, with a weekly average of 78 search and detention raids carried out since the start of 2016, according to UN documentation.

Due to the typically aggressive nature of the raids, clashes often erupt between local Palestinian youth who throw stones and are met in response with live fire and tear gas, often resulting in serious, sometimes fatal injuries.

Israeli rights group Adalah revealed last month that Israeli police had unveiled new regulations which permit Israeli officers to open fire with live ammunition on Palestinian demonstrators before a non-lethal option is used.

According to the statement, the new police regulations allowed officers “to open fire [with live ammunition] directly on an individual who clearly appears to be throwing or is about to throw a firebomb, or who is shooting or is about to shoot fireworks, in order to prevent endangerment."

Stone throwing using a slingshot -- a common scene at Palestinian protests -- was also cited as an act that could justify a police officer using live ammunition on demonstrators.

Last year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested that Israeli police authorize the use of live ammunition on Palestinian stone throwers in occupied East Jerusalem after an Israeli settler was killed when a Palestinian allegedly threw a rock at his car.

Israeli police and soldiers have come under heavy criticism over the past year for what rights groups have referred to as “extrajudicial executions” of Palestinians who did not pose an immediate threat or who could have been detained through non-lethal means.

Some 217 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers, police, and settlers following a wave of unrest that erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October. Most were killed after allegedly carrying out or attempting to carry out attacks,as well as during clashes, in circumstances which rights groups have said should not have necessitated the use of live ammunition.

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