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Israeli forces seal off Tulkarem area village, claim youth threw stones at settler cars

Sept. 5, 2016 10:53 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 5, 2016 8:26 P.M.)
TULKAREM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces closed all entrances to the Palestinian village of Shufa in the Tulkarem district in the northern occupied West Bank overnight Sunday, preventing all residents from entering or leaving the village.

Local resident Murad Droubi told Ma’an that Israeli troops ransacked homes in the Ras al-Aqra neighborhood in the western part of the village, where they “inspected citizens.”

He highlighted that Israeli soldiers revoked the work permits of some of the village’s residents who work in Israel as a “punitive procedure.”

According to Droubi, who is an official for the Fatah movement, Palestinian security sources told him that Israeli authorities “claimed that young men from the village hurled stones at an Israeli settler’s vehicle near the western entrance smashing its windshield,” and for that reason sealed off the village.

For nine months, Droubi added, Israeli forces have set up a military checkpoint at the main entrance to Shufa allowing only people whose identity cards show that they are residents of Shufa to enter the village.

Shufa, which sits in the southeastern part of the Tulkarem district, is located just four kilometers south of the illegal Israeli settlement of Avnei Hefets.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that there were multiple instances of stones being thrown at Israeli settler vehicles from main road connecting the village and the nearby settlement, and checkpoints were set up at the village entrances in order to "find the suspects."

The spokesperson added that the roads were opened Monday morning.

She could not provide a comment regarding the allegations that Israeli forces ransacked homes and confiscated the Israeli work permits of village residents.

On Sunday, Israeli forces also closed the main entrance to the village of Beita in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus and several other side streets in the area, telling locals the closures were made as a result of alleged stone throwing incidents targeting Israeli settler vehicles travelling on the main road near Beita crossroads.

While Israeli settlers routinely throw stones at Palestinians, burn Palestinian agricultural lands, threaten, and harass Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, they are rarely reprimanded for it.

Palestinian stone-throwers, in stark contrast, face harsh penalties by Israeli authorities, including up to 20 years in prison if charged with throwing stones at vehicles and a minimum prison sentence of three years for throwing a stone at an Israeli.

Israel detains hundreds of Palestinians for alleged stone-throwing every year, and Israeli rights group B'Tselem reported that from 2005 to 2010, "93 percent of the minors convicted of stone throwing were given a prison sentence, its length ranging from a few days to 20 months."

Settler attacks on Palestinians seldom result in any actions being taken by Israeli authorities.

According to UN documentation, there were a total of 221 reported settler attacks on Palestinians in 2015, with 60 attacks reported since the start of 2016.

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