For the past two weeks, Palestinian youth in Bethlehem have clashed, on an almost daily basis, with Israeli forces near Rachel’s Tomb, following the murder of Palestinian youth Muhammad Abu Khdeir and Israel’s ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip.Abu Khdeir was tortured and burned to death by Israeli settlers, just prior to the current Israeli invasion and assault on Gaza, in a revenge killing over three settlers who were alleged, by Israel (unfoundedly), to have been abducted and killed by members of Hamas.
The massive arrest campaign which followed led to protests and ensuing confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli military, police and civilians all across the West Bank region, and have since escalated with the current and ongoing strikes on the Gaza Strip.
Before the 3 settlers went missing, Israeli soldiers had just gunned down two Palestinian teens, during the Nakba Day protests which coincide with Israeli Independence Day, each year.
(See recent IMEMC article ‘Sixteen Protesters Arrested in Haifa’ for a few further facts on these events.)
The protests have been violently dispersed by Israeli forces, with at least three youth shot with live ammunition and receiving medical treatment at Beit Jala hospital, according to Ma’an.
Israeli forces additionally fire tear-gas canisters, stun grenades, rubber-coated steel bullets and skunk water at protesters, laving dozens to be treated on site by paramedics.
Eyewitness reports describe the sound of Israeli bullets echoing off the hills of Bethlehem as forces fire stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets at local youth protesting in solidarity with Gaza’s victims, in addition to spraying protesters, houses and roads with sewage water.
On Friday, scuffles are reported to have broken out between protesters and Palestinian Authority security forces, as well, who formed a barricade to prevent dissenting youth from reaching an Israeli military watchtower.
Photo story at Ma’an News Agency.