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Israeli forces fire tear gas, bullets at Palestinian hospital in Ramallah

May 4, 2017 1:49 P.M. (Updated: May 5, 2017 10:10 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces fired bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas at a Palestinian hospital in the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah at dawn on Thursday, sparking condemnation from the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers fired live bullets and tear gas inside the Palestinian Medical Complex grounds for more than an hour early on Thursday morning, causing many patients, including children, to suffer from tear gas inhalation.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that during unspecified “overnight operational activities” in the nearby Qaddura refugee camp, Palestinians located inside the hospital grounds threw stones at Israeli soldiers.

The spokesperson added that the soldiers used “crowd-control means” -- which she said included rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas -- and left the area after they “dispersed the crowd.”

She went on to say that the army would review the case, “like most unusual incidents.”

Palestinian Minister of Health Jawad Awwad said that Israeli forces had threatened the lives of 256 patients, including children, who were being treated at the Palestine Medical Center.

“The assault caused panic and fear among children, women, and elderly patients at sections of the center,” Awwad said. “This fear will never be erased from the memories of the children who came to the hospital to receive treatment, not to enter war.”

Awwad hailed the quick reaction of hospital staff in moving patients away from tear gas-infected areas, which he said prevented any deaths from excessive tear gas inhalation.

He added that Israel had once again violated the international law regarding the protection of civilians, patients, and medical structures.

PA spokesman Yousif al-Mahmoud also condemned the Israeli attack against the Palestinian Medical Complex, and warned against any Israeli escalation against Palestinian health facilities.

In November 2015, Israel caused outrage when undercover Israeli soldiers raided a hospital in Hebron, shooting and killing a Palestinian and detaining a wounded Palestinian youth.

Mahmoud also called on the international community to immediately intervene to stop Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people.

Israeli forces have come under repeated criticism for excessive use of force, as well as lethal methods of "crowd control" that often result in the injury or death of protesters, amid a backdrop of what critics have called a culture of impunity for Israeli soldiers.
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