Live fire hurts 2 Palestinians in W. Bank clashes

IDF source says 2 rioters hurt by Israeli live fire; activists gather throughout West Bank in solidarity with hunger-strikers.

February 22, 2013 18:11
3 minute read.
Palestinians protest in support of hunger striker Samer Essawi outside J'lem court, Feb 19

Palestinians protest in support of hunger striker 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Two Palestinian rioters were shot with Israeli live bullets as clashes in the West Bank continued on Friday evening.

The two were wounded by what an army source described as precision live fire, one in Beitunia and one in Hebron. The source said that the fire was directed at the legs of ring leaders and lightly wounded the two. The type of weapon used, according to the source, was a .22 caliber rifle. Both instances of live fire were approved by commanders in the field.

In a conflicting account of the incidents, a Reuters correspondent tweeted that the two Palestinians had been shot in the chest, and were seriously wounded. The two were rushed to hospital in serious condition, according to the report. Palestinian ambulance drivers said the shootings happened in Budrus and Nabi Saleh.

Palestinian, Israeli and international activists gathered across the West Bank throughout the day in support of hunger-striking detainees in Israeli prisons. Dozens of Palestinians threw stones at security forces in Hebron and Jerusalem, as clashes broke out near the Ofer Prison and Nabi Saleh, Army Radio reported.

The Hebron rally is partially in solidarity with the hunger strikers and partially a call for Israel to re-open the city’s Shuhada Street to Palestinian traffic. The demonstration also marks 19 years have since Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Muslim worshipers on Purim in 1994.

Israel security services had increased their alert level ahead of the demonstrations, with police deployed in villages in east Jerusalem as well as the Old City in preparation for Friday prayers.

Palestinian youths following Friday prayers threw stones at security forces stationed on the Temple Mount. There were no injuries, according to police.

Hundreds of protesters also gathered at the Beitunia checkpoint next to Ofer Prison, located outside Ramallah, where several Palestinian inmates are on a hunger strike. Some thirty Palestinians were hurling rocks at soldiers, an army source said.

According to activist tweets, IDF troops used riot dispersal methods such as firing tear gas canisters to quieten the protests. Fifteen injuries were reported among Palestinian rioters from rubber bullets in in the area.

Meanwhile on Friday, three Palestinians on hunger-strike were evacuated to hospital, Palestinian news agency Ma'an quoted a prison services spokeswoman as saying.

Sivan Weizman told Ma'an that Ayman Sharawna, Jaafar Azzidine and Tareq Qaadan were transferred from Ramle prison to hospitals in Israel for medical tests.

Dozens of Palestinians were wounded on Thursday in clashes that broke out with the IDF during a prolonged protest in support of the Palestinian hunger strikers that took place next to Ofer Prison, located outside Ramallah.

Palestinians threw stones at the security forces, and lightly wounded three Israeli journalists – Nadar Bagdasa and Roy Sharon of Channel 10 and Yoram Cohen of Channel 1 – during the protest, which lasted from 11 a.m. until the evening.

According to Abir Kopty, a spokeswoman for the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, dozens of Palestinians were injured by tear gas, rubber bullets and rubber-coated bullets. A temporary clinic was set up at the site.

She herself was hit in the head by a tear gas canister, treated in the hospital and then released. While in the hospital, she said, she counted 10 others who were there with injuries from the demonstration, including one protester who was hit by live fire.

The IDF denied that soldiers used live ammunition at Ofer.

The protest started with a prayer, and quickly turned violent, with Palestinians throwing stones and rolling burning tires, while soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets.

At times they also used a “skunk truck,” which sprayed foul-smelling water.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

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