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Israeli forces raid Yatta after more than 40 days of blockade

July 21, 2016 11:05 A.M. (Updated: July 21, 2016 8:56 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces raided several homes in the southern occupied West Bank town of Yatta early Thursday, as the army maintained its weeks-long blockade of municipalities in the Hebron district.

A coordinator of a popular committee in the southern West Bank, Rateb al-Jbour, said that Israeli forces raided central Yatta and searched the houses of two Palestinian security officers, identified as Majdi Moussa al-Shreiqi and Ahmad Moussa al-Shreiqi, the latter reportedly a former prisoner detained by Israel.

Al-Jbour said that clashes erupted following the raid, with youths throwing rocks and empty bottles at Israeli soldiers, who injured two when they fired at the young Palestinians with rubber-coated bullets.

Israeli forces also fired tear gas in the area, causing residents to suffer from tear gas inhalation.

Yatta has been under Israeli blockade for 43 days, as entrances of the town have remained sealed by Israeli forces since early June in the wake of a deadly shooting in Tel Aviv committed by two Yatta residents.

Israeli forces also raided the village of Khallet Salih near Yatta and searched a house belonging to the al-Juneidi family.

Al-Jbour called on international and humanitarian organizations to immediately intervene and end the siege imposed on the Hebron district, as he said that more than 850,000 residents of the district were affected by the closures.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that they were looking into reports of the raids, confirming that there were no changes in closures across the Hebron district, “according to security assessments.”

Israeli forces have continued to impose general closures throughout Hebron, the largest and most populous district in the occupied West Bank, which have intensified in the wake of two deadly shooting attacks in the district earlier this month.

The recent road and village closures are not uncommon to Hebron since a wave of unrest swept across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October that has killed more than 220 Palestinians and some 32 Israelis.

Israel’s response to attacks -- such as punitive home demolitions, the sealing of entire villages, mass detention campaigns, and withholding the bodies of Palestinians slain while committing attacks -- has been condemned by rights groups, who have said the measures amount to “collective punishment” and represent a clear violation of international law.

Palestinian government spokesperson Yousif al-Mahmoud earlier this month reiterated that Israel, by continuing its "abhorrent" policies under various pretexts, such as alleged security concerns, could not hide the fact that the Israeli occupation was the main reason for the continuing tensions and instability in the region.
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