Palestinian anti-occupation march stopped with rubber bullets and tear gas

Palestinian anti-occupation march stopped with rubber bullets and tear gas
Numerous injuries have been reported after IDF forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at a march of some 500 Palestinians in the West Bank protesting against Israeli occupation and regular attacks by Israeli settlers.

The march outside the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ofra, was organized to highlight violence by the settlers, whom the Palestinians claim attacked them twice this week.

The demonstration from the West bank village of Deir Jarir toward the nearby Jewish settlement outpost started after Friday prayers. Both Muslim and Christian communities participated.

Prior to the march, a number of Palestinian youths have hurled stones at the Israeli Defense Forces which responded with rubber bullets and tear gas at the growing provocation.  

"Soldiers responded to a group of some 250 stone-throwing youths with riot dispersal means near Ofra," an army spokesman said, adding that the military will investigate the incident.

At the nearby village of Silwad, Palestinians burned tires and threw rocks in the direction of Ofra.

Doctors treated several protesters for gas inhalation and rubber bullet wounds.

A Palestinian demonstrator burns tyres during during clashes with Israeli soldiers following a march against construction on their land by members of the nearby Jewish settlement of Ofra on April 26, 2013. (AFP Photo / Abbas Momani)

According to local witnesses the march was organized in retaliation to Israeli intrusion into Palestinian villages.

The villagers say Israeli settlers set cars on fire in the village, planted an Israeli flag on a church and pelted villagers with stones.

“This was a peaceful area. We're gathered today to say we refuse to be attacked and driven off our own land," said Sami Issa, a resident. "We want their army to pull the settlers out.”

A Palestinian demonstrator uses a sling shot to throw rocks towards Israeli security forces during clashes following a march against construction on their land by members of the Jewish settlement of Ofra on April 26, 2013. (AFP Photo / Abbas Momani)

Earlier on Friday, Palestinians threw two homemade bombs and several firebombs at a company of Border Guard troops in eastern Jerusalem. Israeli forces returned fire with crowd-dispersal munitions.

In a separate incident, Palestinians threw stones at Israeli troops near Ramallah as dozens of Palestinians violent demonstrations in nearby villages.

A Palestinian demonstrator from the West Bank village of Deir Jarir waves the Fatah movement flag as he marches with fellow protestors against construction on their land by members of the nearby Jewish settlement of Ofra on April 26, 2013. (AFP Photo / Abbas Momani)

In its weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories for the week of 18- 24 April 2013, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) discovered that there were 98 military incursions into Palestinian villages in the West Bank. During these operations at least 52 Palestinians, including 6 children and a number of Hamas members were abducted. Eight Palestinians, including 4 children and a 70-year-old elderly woman, were wounded in the West Bank.

A Palestinian demonstrator from the West Bank village of Deir Jarir, waves his national flag as as others pray prior to clashes with Israeli soldiers on April 26, 2013. (AFP Photo / Abbas Momani)

Following the war of 1967, some half a million Jewish settlers have relocated to the West Bank and East Jerusalem errecting settlements that are considered illegal by the United Nations. The Palestinians are trying to get rid of the outposts as they want the land for their future state. At present, Israel has sanctioned the building of 120 settlements.

A Palestinian demonstrator from the West Bank village of Deir Jarir waves his national flag as he sits on a pile of rocks during clashes with Israeli soldiers on April 26, 2013. (AFP Photo / Abbas Momani)

EU’s growing concern

On Friday, the European Union’s missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah expressed grave concerns about the destruction of 22 structures in eight locations across the West Bank and East Jerusalem as some of these buildings were funded by EU countries, including France.

The destruction, the EU claims, left 28 people including 18 children displaced. The Israeli actions also affected 120 other people including 57 children.

A Palestinian woman from the Jaber family shouts as Israeli bulldozers demolished a series of shops built without a permit in the vicinity of the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arbaa. (AFP Photo / Hazem Bader)

French foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot condemned the destruction of a Palestinian Bedouin camp on Tuesday in the north of the Jordan Valley, as the camp was built using French funds and it was “clearly identifiable.”

“France has made representations to the Israeli authorities to stop the destruction of homes, the displacement and the destruction... in Area C, which are contrary to international humanitarian law,” Lalliot said.

Israeli security officers stand guard as a bulldozer hired by the Jerusalem municipality destroys a Palestinian house in the Israeli annexed East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur on April 24, 2013. (AFP Photo / Ahmad Gharabli)

Overall “since the year 2008 more than 2,400 Palestinian houses and structures have been demolished in Area C of the West Bank and east Jerusalem, displacing more than 4,400 people,” the statement reads.

The EU representatives on the ground say that they asked Israel to meet its obligations regarding the living conditions of the Palestinian population in Area C last year, but that call has not been answered.

Also on Friday, The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported the demolition of two farms and a Palestinian restaurant in Area C causing temporary displacement of some 60 people, including 36 children.

Palestinians search for their belongings in the rubble of their houses, which were demolished by Israeli bulldozers as they were built illegally without a permit in the southern area of Yatta village, south of the West Bank town of Hebron, on November 6, 2012. (AFP Photo / Hazem Bader)