Tension escalated on Wednesday, between Palestinian locals and Israeli soldiers at the northern entrance of Bethlehem, as the latter violently quelled a rally marking the 11th anniversary of the death of late leader Yasser Arafat, according to a security source.Clashes reportedly erupted in the vicinity of Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque, after soldiers attacked the rally, where they used concussion grenades and tear gas canisters against locals, leading to several suffocation cases among them.

Earlier Wednesday, according to WAFA, Israeli forces raided a boys’ secondary school in the town of Taqou’ to the east of Bethlehem, and threatened to shut down the school if students continue to throw stones at Israeli soldiers.

Israeli forces often resort to using force against Palestinians participating in peaceful rallies.

According to Palestine News Network, “The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) and the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem (CCPRJ) have issued a joint statement condemning Israel’s attacks on civilians, saying the ‘root causes’ cannot be ignored.”

They said, “We deplore and condemn all forms of attacks on civilians, and emphasize that the current escalation in violence cannot be explained, addressed or remedied in a vacuum.”

“The human rights organizations strongly condemned the extreme measures that Israel has taken in recent weeks and calls on the international community to take action. Of specific concern is Israel’s arbitrary and expansive use of live fire, in part due to the recent relaxation of live-fire regulations for stone-throwers, and the excessive use of force against Palestinian demonstrators both by the IOF in the OPT and Israeli police in Israel.”

Meanwhile, the association for civil rights in Israel affirmed, “The right to demonstrate and to protest is part and parcel of the right to freedom of expression, and it is entrenched in international human rights law.”

“According to international human rights law, it is the obligation of the occupying power to enable the exercise of freedom of expression and protest in the Occupied Territories.”