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