BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained at least seven Palestinians in predawn raids in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, with three aggressive raids sparking clashes, as Israeli forces targeted local youth with live fire and launched tear gas canisters at homes.
During a violent raid into al-Duheisha refugee camp
in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, at least eight Palestinians were injured, including six who were shot with live fire in the legs — one of whom was an on-duty paramedic whose brother was detained, and a youth who was run over by an Israeli military vehicle.
Locals said that several Israeli military vehicles raided the refugee camp around dawn time, surrounded it from multiple areas, as snipers deployed on the rooftops of houses.
Clashes erupted between Israeli soldiers and local youth at the entrances of the camp, with Israeli forces firing rubber-coated steel bullets, live bullets, and tear-gas bombs.
Alaa al-Balaawi, a paramedic with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society was in uniform, treating residents who were suffering from tear gas inhalation, when he was shot in the leg.
Israeli forces then raided al-Balaawi’s family house, searched it, assaulted his father, and detained his brother Shahrayar, locals told Ma’an.
Five other Palestinians were shot in the legs with live fire and another was injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the head.
One resident, who was described by locals as a “youth” not identified further, was injured after he was run over by an Israeli military vehicle.
The eight wounded were all evacuated to local hospitals for treatment.
In response to a request for comment, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that “over 20 Palestinians hurled Molotov cocktails and rocks at forces in al-Duheisha. Forces responded with crowd control means to disperse the riot, and one instigator was apprehended.”
When asked what the purpose of the raid had been in the first place, the spokesperson said forces were conducting an “operational activity,” and provided no further details.
Rights groups have previously documented
the Israeli army’s targeting of Palestinian youth in al-Duheisha with live fire in the kneecaps and legs in an alleged attempt to cripple them for life.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces raided the town of Beit Ummar in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron to detain three young Palestinians, including one minor, sparking clashes that left several locals suffering from tear gas inhalation and the window of a house blasted by a tear gas bomb.
Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad identified the detainees as 21-year-old Muhye Falah Hamdi Abu Maria, 18-year-old Wajih Fathi Younis Sabarneh, and 17-year-old Rashed Bashar Issa Zaaqiq, who were detained after Israeli forces broke into and searched their homes.
As Israeli forces withdrew from the town, soldiers opened live fire and shot tear-gas canisters at youth who threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at soldiers.
Several youths and locals suffered from tear-gas inhalation. A tear gas bomb fired at a house belonging to Shihdeh Sabarneh broke through a window, forcing residents to flee from the house.
An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the three detentions in Beit Ummar, and in response to a request for comment on the clashes, said that “during an operational activity, dozens of Palestinians hurled Molotov cocktails at forces who used crowd control methods to disperse and control the riot.”
In the town of Abu Dis in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem, Israeli forces detained a former prisoner, 22-year-old Mahmoud Nafeth Jaffal, as well as 18-year-old Muhammad Ziad Jaffal, locals said.
Israeli intelligence and army forces raided and searched the former prisoner’s house, confiscated his mobile phone and ID card, before detaining him in a military jeep and transferring him to the the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency.
Locals highlighted that Jaffal had previously been detained several times, having spent two years in Israeli prison before being released in 2015.
During the raid in Abu Dis, Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, and tear-gas canisters into the town before withdrawing to a nearby Israeli military post.
An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the two detentions in Abu Dis, but said they were looking into reports of the clashes.
Meanwhile, locals in Beit Awwa west of Hebron in the southern West Bank reported that Israeli forces stormed the town and detained Bakr Rajeh Masalmeh after raiding and searching his house.
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.
Israeli police and soldiers have come under heavy criticism over the past year for what rights groups have referred to as “extrajudicial executions” and excessive use of force against Palestinians — against youth and children in particular — who did not pose an immediate threat or who could have been detained through non-lethal means.