Israeli forces conduct raids throughout West Bank on Nakba day

Published May 15th, 2016 - 04:00 GMT
Ibrahim Abu Mustaf, 83, who says he is a former inhabitant of the town of Beersheva, carries the key to his former home in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip on May 15, 2016, on the 68th anniversary of the Nakba. (AFP/Said Khatib)
Ibrahim Abu Mustaf, 83, who says he is a former inhabitant of the town of Beersheva, carries the key to his former home in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip on May 15, 2016, on the 68th anniversary of the Nakba. (AFP/Said Khatib)

Israeli forces raided multiple neighborhoods across the occupied West Bank overnight Saturday, detaining at least three Palestinians, launching tear gas canisters and stun grenades, and setting fire to olive trees, as Palestinians around the world commemorated the 68th anniversary of the Nakba.

In the northern district of Qalqiliya, dozens of Palestinians suffered from tear gas inhalation, and several trees caught fire when clashes erupted between local youths and Israeli forces in the village of Kafr Qaddum.

Coordinator for a popular resistance committee in the village Murad Shtewi said the Israeli army "turned Kafr Qaddum's sky into a cloud of poisonous gas" after firing tear gas heavily and randomly. Dozens of olive trees in the area caught fire from Israeli forces-fired tear gas and stun grenades.

Shtewi added that civil defense vehicles were prevented from reaching the fire because Israeli forces had closed the roads with dirt berms, forcing firefighters to walk up a hill to control the fire.

To the south in the occupied West Bank district of Hebron, Israeli forces raided the downtown, al-Khila, and al-Thahir areas of the village of Beit Ummar, detaining one Palestinian.

Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad said Israeli forces raided the house of Ibrahim Abd-al-Hamid Abu Maria, and detained his son Abd Nasir, 19.

In the southern district of Bethlehem, abnormally excessive use of force by Israeli forces was reported during an overnight raid in al-Azza refugee camp.

Locals reported a night of chaos marked by at least three explosions and two sets of exchange of fire while Israeli forces showered the camp with tear gas.
 
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an Israeli forces detained two Palestinians near Bethlehem and one next to Ramallah in the occupied West Bank overnight. She added she was looking into the reports of clashes in al-Azza and Kafr Qaddum.
 
Saturday night’s raids come as Palestinians around the world commemorated the 68th anniversary of the beginning of the Nakba, or catastrophe, when 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced during the creation of the state of Israel.
 
“Since 1948, Israel has employed deliberate and systematic acts of violence, colonialism, and destruction at the expense of the Palestinian people, their rights, lands, and resources,” Senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said in a press release published Saturday titled, “The Nakba continues.”
 
Israel’s systematic dispossession and forced displacement of the Palestinian people entered a new era in 1967 when Israel illegally occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, creating another 430,000 Palestinian refugees, according to the PLO.
 
The decades-long occupation of the Palestinian territory is marked by near-nightly raids by Israeli forces into Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank, with more than 90 search and arrest operations conducted per week since the start of the year, according to UN documentation.

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