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Palestinian town sealed for 2nd day after deadly attack

Feb. 5, 2016 12:27 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 5, 2016 7:35 P.M.)
JENIN (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Friday continued to seal the occupied West Bank town of Qabatiya, the hometown of three Palestinians who were shot dead after carrying out an attack that left an Israeli officer dead in Jerusalem earlier this week.

The Jenin-district town has been closed since late Wednesday, hours after the attack took place.

Qabatiya residents Ahmad Rajeh Ismail Zakarneh, Muhammad Ahmad Hilmi Kamil, and Najeh Ibrahim Abu al-Rub, all in their early 20s, were shot dead on Wednesday after carrying out an attack on Israeli Border Police at the Damascus Gate in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City.

One Israeli officer, 19-year-old Hadar Cohen, was shot in the head and later died, while another officer was left in moderate condition with stab wounds across her body.

Locals told Ma'an that Israeli forces closed the Khirbat al-Wahid road Friday with bulldozers, cutting off the last opening for movement in and out of the town.

Agricultural roads that locals had been using as detours to cross out of the town were also closed, sealing in Qabatiya's more than 20,000 residents. However, a Ma'an reporter said at least one agricultural road was open on Friday.

Sporadic clashes were ongoing since early Friday between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers deployed in the al-Hisbeh area of the town, locals added.

At least nine Palestinians were reported injured on Friday after Israeli forces reportedly fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters at the northern entrance of Qabatiya, locals told Ma'an.

Medical sources said three were injured in their feet by live fire and were taken to the hospital in Jenin for treatment in a moderate condition. They were identified as Yousif Ali Asous, Ihab Maher Kamil, and Muhammad Kamal Zakarneh. 

An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed to Ma'an the continued closure of Qabatiya, saying that all movement in and out of the town was prohibited with the exception of humanitarian cases, "according to security assessments of the area."

Qabatiya erupted into chaos when Israeli forces stormed the the town on Thursday, detaining 10 and injuring at least four with live fire, one critically. A 15-year-old was also left in critical condition after being run over by a military vehicle.

During the raid, Israeli forces notified the families of the three youths who committed Wednesday’s attack that their homes would be demolished.

PLO spokesperson Ali Zakarneh told Ma'an at the time that Israeli forces announced that Qabatiya had been designated a closed military zone, and would remain a closed zone for at least a month.

Israel revoked the work permits for a number of Qabatiya's residents, although the Israeli Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories did not immediately provide any further details.

A Palestinian military liaison in Jenin told Ma'an that the bodies of the three Palestinians would be returned Friday afternoon.

The Israeli military has been enforcing closures on hometowns of Palestinians who carried out or were suspected of carrying out attacks on Israeli military and civilians since a surge of attacks began in October.

Road closures, intensive security checks, and complete blockades of villages or districts have become commonplace, despite criticism that the measures operate as collective punishment.
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