Israeli forces raid protest, refugee camps in West Bank, injuring seven

Published February 23rd, 2015 - 03:29 GMT
Palestinians were injured late Sunday by ammunition in Bethlehem clashes with Israeli forces. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)
Palestinians were injured late Sunday by ammunition in Bethlehem clashes with Israeli forces. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

Israeli forces raided the Bawabat al-Quds (Jerusalem Gate) protest camp for the ninth time in two weeks at dawn on Monday, activists said.

The news came after seven Palestinians were injured late Sunday by live ammunition in clashes with Israeli forces in Aida refugee camp in northern Bethlehem, residents told Ma’an news agency.

The spokesman for the popular resistance committees in Jerusalem, Hani Halabiya, told Ma'an that dozens of Israeli military vehicles escorted a bulldozer to Bawabat al-Quds and tore down the tents.

Israeli forces seized all property found at the site following the demolition and activists were denied access to the area.

The Bawabat al-Quds camp was set up three weeks ago by Palestinian activists to protest Israeli plans to displace Bedouin families from their dwellings in the area known as East-1 (E1), between Jerusalem and Jericho.

The activists remained in the camp, just outside Abu Dis, during the recent rains, thunderstorms and sub-zero temperatures.

Israeli forces have repeatedly raided the camp and have destroyed it nine times, with activists immediately rebuilding it shortly afterwards.

Last summer, Israeli authorities released a series of plans that would concentrate Bedouins in the occupied West Bank to two areas and destroy more than 20 Bedouin villages.

Activists told Ma’an that the "plan to displace Bedouins is a demographic bomb that Israel is using to empty Palestinian lands of its original residents, steal their properties, and the rights to return to the original villages that they were displaced from."

Palestinian Bedouins in the West Bank are largely composed of refugees who fled the Negev Desert following Israel’s 1948 ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians. The few who remained — about 10 percent of the total Bedouin population — were confined to reservations.

There are about 260,000 Bedouin in Occupied Palestine, mostly living in and around the Negev in the arid south. More than half live in villages unrecognized by Israeli authorities without utilities, and many live in extreme poverty.

Israel has systematically tried to obliterate, annex and confiscate Palestinian land and possessions as it seeks to strip the land it occupies of its Palestinian identity.

Claiming that most land in the Negev Desert is "state property," Israeli forces have repeatedly demolished Bedouin homes in the area.
Palestinian citizens of Israel, who account for about 20 percent of the population in Occupied Palestine, are the descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land when the Zionist state was established in 1948. The majority of Palestinians were killed, expelled from their homes, or detained in work camps.

Palestinians with Israeli citizenship complain of routine discrimination, particularly in housing, land access and employment, and anger has risen in recent months over Israel's assault on Gaza that left more than 2,300 Palestinians, mostly civilians, dead. More than 700 Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territories were arrested in protests across the country against the attack over summer.

Israeli forces raid refugee camp, injure 7 Palestinians

Meanwhile, Israeli forces accompanied by police dogs raided the Aida refugee camp in the central West Bank and fired tear gas, stun grenades and live ammunition, injuring seven Palestinians in their lower extremities, residents told Ma’an.

The soldiers then prevented ambulances from reaching the injured by firing tear gas at them causing one ambulance driver to suffer from suffocation due to excessive gas inhalation.

They also detained a large number of young men from the camp and searched several houses, a witness said.

Five men were shot with live bullets, while at least two others were severely beaten.

Human rights groups have accused Israel of encouraging a shoot-­to-­kill policy after a wave of incidents in which police shot dead Palestinians involved in, or accused of, attacking Israelis.

Since September 2000, following the Second Intifada, at least 9,100 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis, including 2,053 Palestinian children, the equivalent of one Palestinian child being killed every three days for the past 14 years.

The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-infamous Balfour Declaration, called for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state — a move never recognized by the international community.


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