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Israeli forces shoot, injure 3 Palestinian youths in West Bank clashes

June 29, 2017 1:45 P.M. (Updated: June 29, 2017 6:23 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces shot and injured at least three young Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets during dawn raids in two separate occupied West Bank villages on Thursday.

Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awwad said that Israeli forces escorted army rabbis into the village of Beit Ummar in the West Bank district of Hebron before dawn and broke into the village’s main mosque, which hosts the tomb of Nabi Matta, also known as Matthew’s Tomb.

Awwad added that the two rabbis performed prayers inside the tomb, photographed the mosque and took measurements of tombs inside the house of worship for more than three hours.

Meanwhile, Awwad said, soldiers raided several old homes in Beit Ummar, and fired a tear gas canister at a house belonging to Omar Ahmad Awwad, igniting a fire in an old washing machine placed just outside the house, which Beit Ummar residents put out before the flames reached inside the home.

After the fire erupted, clashes broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinian youth. Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets at the Palestinians, hitting 15-year-old Malik Ayish Abu Hashem and fracturing his arm, Awwad said, adding that dozens more suffered from tear gas inhalation.

Israeli forces reportedly detained Muhammad Khalil Abd al-Fattah Sabarneh, 32, Shihada Yousif Shihada Adi, 30, and Moussa Khalid Ayyad Awwad, 17, during the clashes, and transferred them to the Etzion military base north of Beit Ummar.

Meanwhile, official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that an Israeli army raid in the Ramallah-area village of Bilin on Thursday morning also led to clashes, in which two Palestinians were injured.

Wafa quoted local activist Abdullah Abu Rahma as saying that the two Palestinian youths were hit by rubber-coated steel bullets and were taken to a hospital in Ramallah for treatment, while others suffered from tear gas inhalation.

Locals identified the two injured youths as 15-year-old Iyad Birnat, who was reportedly hit in the chest and hand, and 18-year-old Hamza al-Khatib, who was hit in the thigh.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that they would look into the reports for both Beit Ummar and Bilin.

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 95 search and detention raids carried out over the course 2016, according to UN documentation.

Between June 13 and 19, the UN recorded 74 such raids. 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.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, there were 6,200 Palestinians in Israeli prisons as of May.
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