At 2am, 12 Israeli military vehicles entered the Al-Safe neighbourhood, five
minutes south of the Manger Square
city centre of the West Bank town of Bethlehem.
Troops surrounded the home of a suspected Al-Quds Brigade fighter, and
became engaged in clashes with local resistance fighters. During the confrontation, three Palestinians
Fatima Zaharan, 80, was hit by two bullets, one each in her leg and
her abdomen. Her condition is described
as "critical", and is receiving treatment at Beit Jala public hospital.
Muhammad Obiat, 18, received a bullet in his chest, his condition is
described as "medium to critical".
It has also been alleged that Obiat is a member of the Al Aqsa Brigades.
Mallik al-Jabawi, 11, was shot in the head at close range with a rubber
bullet, and continues to receive treatment.
By midday, an Israeli military bulldozer had arrived on the scene,
and troops were threatening the demolition of the house they had been
surrounding. Further clashes broke out,
between local children throwing rocks and stones using adapted slingshots, and
the Israeli troops firing rubber bullets and tear gas.
The military vehicles attempted to surround the children, with no
success, until further reinforcements arrived and dispersed the crowd of children.
Troops also stopped a service taxi from passing by the house, and detained all
those traveling inside.
The owner of the house, Thaer Hassan, is a suspected member of the
Islamic Jihad movement. His home was
demolished two years ago by Israeli forces, and he has rebuilt it since.
Just before 12:30, the Israeli bulldozer had demolished part of the
wall of the four-storey building, opening a hole in the first floor. Troops stationed in front of the house have
been throwing tear gas and sound grenades into the house and calling for the
surrender of those inside.
Attempting to bring the siege to an end, the Israeli troops are
currently using neighbours of the besieged family home as human shields, in
order to enter the building.
The latest development on the scene is that the soldiers captured
two of the children from the neighbouring homes, forced them to enter the
building and to remove the furniture from the family home, placing it all
outside the building. The soldiers have
since released the children and sent police dogs into the Hassan house.