An exchange of fire was reported in Bethlehem, on Tuesday afternoon, between members of the Palestinian Preventive Security and the under-cover units of the Israeli army, in an area close to Al Frer School.
The clashes erupted after the Special Forces, infiltrated into Bethlehem, and stopped a Palestinian car in an attempt to arrest one of the passengers.
A Palestinian security vehicle was passing near the area, noticed the Special Forces and attempted to bar the soldiers from arresting the passenger.
Both the P.A security and the Israeli under-cover unit exchanged fire; one resident and a Palestinian policeman were injured.
A medical source in Bethlehem reported that one youth, identified as Fahim Za’aqeq, 17, was injured by Israeli military fire, and was transferred to Beit Jala Governmental Hospital, in Bethlehem.
Directly after the clash, at least 30 military vehicles invaded the area in order to backup their under-cover unit after it was surrounded by Palestinian policemen.
Soldiers evacuated the Special Force and withdrew from the area.
Bethlehem’s police commander, Issa Hejo, said that the under-cover forces opened fire first at the Palestinian police, sparking gunfire that lasted several minutes; one policeman was injured.
Army claims that P.A security opened fire at the soldiers as they approached the local government headquarters.
Ay least ten Palestinian were arrested in several West Bank areas earlier on Tuesday, after the army carried several arrest-invasion in a number of West Bank cities, villages, and refugee camps.
"The Israeli force returned fire and fired warning shots in the air," army source stated
P.A security foils infiltration of Bethlehem by Special Forces
Saed Bannoura-IMEMC & Agencies – Tuesday, 22 November 2005, 16:41
While the Palestinian police and security forces were conducting their campaign to locate illegal vehicles in Bethlehem, Israeli Special Forces attempted to infiltrate the city and were caught by P.A security officers.
The Maan News Agency on Tuesday afternoon reported that while under-cover soldiers of the Israeli army were driving a vehicle with a Palestinian license, they were stopped at a Palestinian roadblock which was inspecting vehicles near Deheishe refugee camp in Bethlehem.
The five soldiers in the vehicle panicked and attempted to drive away but the Palestinian security managed to surround them.
“At first the policemen thought that the persons in the car were Palestinians driving an unlicensed vehicle”, a P.A security source reported, “the under-cover soldiers spoke in Arabic and attempted to convince the security men that their car has a problems with its breaks”
After being asked to step out of the vehicle, the officers discovered that the five soldiers were carrying identification cards which belonged to Palestinian residents of Jerusalem.
When the soldiers found out that their cover was compromised, they used wireless devices calling the “Israeli army for back up”. Within minutes the whole area was surrounded by Israel soldiers who ordered the Palestinian police to lay their arms down, yet the Palestinian policemen had already readied their rifles.
A bloody clash was prevented when the Palestinian Police and security officer fist-fought with the soldiers in order to bar them from opening fire in an area which was filled with civilians, children and vehicles.
Dozens of youth from the Deheishe refugee camp started to throw stones at the soldiers before other ordinary military units arrived at the scene and evacuated its under-cover troops from the area.
The Special Forces and soldiers withdrew from the area leaving the identification cards with the P.A security.
Made Al Atari, head of Palestinian Preventive Security in Bethlehem, described this attempt to infiltrate Bethlehem as an “irresponsible measure which could have claimed the lives of dozens of innocent residents”.
Al Atari thanked the P.A security and policemen for their awareness and readiness which unveiled this attempt and saved innocent lives.