BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A 23-year-old Palestinian was critically injured with live fire during clashes Wednesday before dawn in the al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank Bethlehem district, as Israeli forces conducted a detention raid in the camp.
Local sources told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided several houses in the camp, causing clashes to erupt between Palestinian youth of the camp and Israeli forces who opened live fire at youth, injuring Akram al-Atrash with three bullets.
Sources said that al-Atrash sustained critical injuries and was transferred to the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem.
During the raid on the camp, Israeli forces detained three Palestinians identified by locals as Mutasem Raqban, Ahmad Sarar and Ahmad al-Sarawi.
An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the reported to Ma’an, saying that “during operational activity in the al-Duheisha camp earlier this morning, a Palestinian threw a Molotov cocktail and rocks at Israeli army forces. In response to the immediate threat, soldiers fired shots towards the main instigator and a hit was confirmed.”
The spokesperson added that the injured Palestinian was “taken to an Israeli hospital,” and that three Palestinians were detained during the raid.
Al-Duheisha was the site of a violent Israeli military raid last month
, when 34-year-old Iyad Ibrahim Ramadan was shot in the leg while he was standing unarmed on his rooftop, attempting to observe the clashes at the time to see if it would be possible to go to work that morning.
After his brothers Mahmoud and Shadi rushed him to the Arab Society Hospital in Beit Jala for treatment, Israeli forces opened fire on their vehicle, with Mahmoud sustaining a head wound from shrapnel.
Three other locals were shot and injured amid the clashes. One of the three, a now wheelchair bound 22-year-old who asked to remain anonymous, told Ma’an after undergoing knee surgery that he was shot while trying to rescue another young man who had also just been shot.
Following the raid, locals in the camp warned
of Israeli forces deliberately targeting unarmed Palestinians in the camp with live fire without justification.
Rights groups have routinely condemned Israeli authorities for their use of excessive force against Palestinians, particularly in refugee camps, during incidents that did not warrant a violent response.
A report released in August by Bethlehem-based NGO Badil documented the Israeli army’s targeting of Palestinian youth with live fire
in the kneecaps and legs.
BADIL said that 30 Palestinians had been shot with live ammunition in the camp from January 2016 to mid-August 2016, the majority in their legs and knees.
The incidents came came as reports emerged of an Israeli army commander responsible for Bethlehem’s three refugee camps making repeated threats to make “all youth in the camp disabled.”
Locals in the nearby Aida refugee camp have also reported escalated military procedures over the past several months, creating what some residents have called a perpetual “atmosphere of fear.”
Locals say that Israeli soldiers intentionally provoke youth with tear gas or bullets in order to start clashes with the young Palestinians who sometimes throw stones.