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Israeli forces violently suppress Al-Aqsa protests in West Bank, Gaza

July 21, 2017 2:45 P.M. (Updated: July 22, 2017 5:50 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces violently suppressed demonstrations in the occupied West Bank and Gaza on Friday, injuring scores who had gathered in solidarity with a massive protest in occupied East Jerusalem to denounce increasing Israeli security measures at the Al-Aqsa compound.

Palestinian demonstrators performed prayers outdoors across the occupied Palestinian territory in solidarity with Al-Aqsa, to denounce the installation of metal detectors, turnstiles, and additional security cameras in the compound after a deadly shooting attack took place there on July 14.

Palestinians in Jerusalem have refused to enter the Al-Aqsa compound since the new measures were installed, choosing instead to pray outside of the compound in the streets of Jerusalem's Old City.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that at least 3,000 Palestinian were demonstrating across the occupied West Bank on Friday, adding that no Israelis had been reported injured in the allegedly "violent riots."

They told Ma'an that they were looking into reports of each protest.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said that over 450 Palestinians were injured during clashes in Jerusalem and the West Bank over the course of Friday. Among them were 23 live fire injuries, 147 rubber-coated steel bullets injuries, 65 fracture injuries due to assaults by Israeli forces, and 215 tear-gas inhalation cases.

Meanwhile, three Palestinians were killed in clashes on Friday, including a protester in the West Bank village of Abu Dis.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement that at least 17 Palestinians had been detained across the occupied West Bank on Friday.

Hebron district

Hebron city

Clashes erupted between hundreds of Palestinians and Israeli soldiers in Hebron city in the southern West Bank, after Israeli forces sprayed skunk water and fired tear gas at a march in the area of Bab al-Zawiya.

Medical sources told Ma’an that one Palestinian was shot in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet, while another was shot in the thigh with a live bullet, and two others were hit with full metal jacket bullets in their lower extremities.

The Red Crescent reported that at least six were wounded by live bullets and four by rubber-coated steel bullets in Hebron.

Local activist Tariq Ashour remained hospitalized on Friday evening after being shot in the chest with a live bullet, as the Al-Ahli Hospital reported that he was in moderate condition.

Israeli forces raided the governmental hospital in Hebron searching to detain Palestinians who were injured in the clashes, reportedly preventing medical staff from exiting the premises.

Medical sources told Ma'an that Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and sound bombs inside the hospital before exiting the premises, adding that soldiers were still surrounding the hospital.

Beit Ummar

Local activist Muhamad Ayyad Awwad said that clashes erupted in Beit Ummar, where Israeli forces fired tear gas at demonstrators and closed off the northern entrance of the village.

Awwad said that a 16-year-old boy was shot in the left thigh and was being treated in a hospital in moderate condition, while 10 other Palestinians were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets and dozens suffered of tear gas inhalation.

He added that Israeli forces also assaulted and detained 19-year-old Muhammad Thiyab Hamid Sabarna during the demonstration.

The soldiers also beat Sabarna’s father, Thiyab Sabarna, when he attempted to speak with them to convince them to release his son.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that some 50 Palestinians were throwing stones and “improvised grenades” at Israeli forces during the clashes.

Israeli forces detaining Muhammad Thiyab Sabarna.

Al-Arrub

Clashes also erupted in al-Arrub refugee camp, where Israeli forces reportedly fired tear gas and rubber-coated bullets at Palestinians, who responded by throwing stones.

Bethlehem district

Bethlehem City

Israeli forces violently suppressed demonstrators in the city of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank, an eyewitness told Ma’an.

The witness said that some 300 demonstrators had gathered in front of an Israeli military base set behind Israel’s illegal separation wall in northern Bethlehem to pray, with a dozen of protesters chanting slogans.

As the majority of demonstrators began walking away from the separation wall, Israeli forces began spraying skunk water -- a strong, foul smelling liquid -- towards the crowd, before shooting tear gas.

The witness said that they had not seen any Palestinians throw projectiles towards the wall before Israeli forces targeted the demonstrators.

The Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma'an that at least 38 Palestinians were injured in the Bethlehem clashes, including three who were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets.

A Ma'an reporter was lightly wounded after being hit in the face with a tear gas canister.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that they had reports of eight "confirmed hits" in Bethlehem, although they were not aware what weapons were used.

Tuqu

In the Bethlehem-area village of Tuqu, where a Palestinian was killed by Israeli forces on Thursday, several Palestinians were reportedly injured by rubber-coated steel bullets and others suffered of excessive tear gas inhalation during a solidarity protest.

A Ma’an reporter present at the scene said that Israeli forces were deployed across the neighborhood of Khirbet al-Deir, stationing themselves on rooftops and in alleyways.

Jerusalem district

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that its medics treated at least 53 Palestinians in clashes in the town of al-Eizariya -- two who were shot with live bullets, 10 who were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets, one who suffered from burns, and 40 who suffered from severe tear gas inhalation.

Ramallah district

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that at least 11 Palestinians were wounded in Ramallah district clashes in Qalandiya and Nabi Salih, including one who was shot with a live bullet.

Qalandiya

There were also reports of Israeli forces suppressing a demonstration in the village of Qalandiya, where one of the major checkpoints between East Jerusalem and the West Bank is located.

Nabi Salih

A demonstration also took place in the village of Nabi Salih in the Ramallah district of the West Bank, known for its Friday marches against the Israeli occupation.

The army spokesperson told Ma'an that there was one "confirmed hit" in Nabi Salih, although they were not aware of what weapon was used.

Bilin

Dozens marched in the village of Bilin, also known for holding weekly demonstrations, towards the illegal Israeli separation wall to denounce the Israeli measures at Al-Aqsa and Palestinian Muslim and Christian sites.

Ma'an did not receive reports of Israeli forces using suppressive measures in Bilin.

Qalqiliya district

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that at least five Palestinians were wounded in the villages of Kafr Qaddum and Jayyus, two of whom were hit with rubber-coated steel bullets.

Kafr Qaddum

Popular committee coordinator in Kafr Qaddum Murad Shteiwi told Ma’an that at least six Palestinians were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets in the village when hundreds of Kafr Qaddum residents marched in protest of Israeli measures at Al-Aqsa.

Shteiwi said that Israeli soldiers heavily fired tear gas, live bullets, sound bombs, and rubber-coated steel bullets at the demonstrators, adding that the wounded were treated on the scene.

Tulkarem district

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that at least six Palestinians suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation and one suffered from burns in clashes in Tulkarem city.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that some 30 Palestinians threw Molotov cocktails in Tulkarem.

Gaza Strip

The Gaza Ministry of Health reported that at least 20 Palestinians, including six medics, suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation in demonstrations across the Gaza Strip.

The ministry added that two ambulances were also damaged when Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters directly at the vehicles, without specifying where the incident took place.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that they were aware of clashes taking places in several areas along the border between the besieged Palestinian enclave and Israel.

They said that Israeli forces had fired "warning shots" into the air, but added that they did not have immediate information on whether any Palestinians were hit.

Southern Gaza Strip

Clashes erupted east of Khan Yunis as hundreds marched from the city towards the border, where a Palestinian youth was reportedly injured with live fire.

In the city of Rafah, demonstrators marched from to al-Awda Square to al-Shuhada Square.

Central Gaza Strip

A Palestinian was reportedly shot in the head with a live bullet east of al-Bureij refugee camp.

In Gaza City, thousands of demonstrators held a sit-in in front of the Palestinian Legislative Council, as Hamas politburo member Khalil al-Hayya said that Palestinians remained united under the flag of Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem.

Thousands also reportedly protested in al-Nuseirat refugee camp.

Marches were also scheduled to take place following evening prayers in al-Maghazi refugee camp and al-Zawayda.
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