85-year-old Palestinian suffocates to death from Israeli tear gas

Palestinian and foreign protesters hold Palestinian flags and placards during a rally against Jewish settlements in front of a fence along the Jordanian border on January 1, 2014 near the West Bank town of Jericho. (Photo: AFP - Hazem Bader)

Published Thursday, January 2, 2014

An 85-year old Palestinian died on Thursday after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli occupation forces to attack local protesters landed in his home in the West Bank, local eyewitnesses told Reuters.

He is the first Palestinian casualty of the conflict with Israel in 2014 following a violent clash with soldiers on the outskirts of the village of Kufr Qaddoum near Nablus in the northern West Bank.

An Israeli military spokeswoman had no immediate comment but was checking for details of the clash.

Youths in the village were on Wednesday celebrating the 49th anniversary of the founding of the Fatah movement, the party of Palestinian President Mahmmoud Abbas, when occupation forces crashed the celebration.

Villagers told Reuters the soldiers fired dozens of tear gas canisters at them, one of which entered Sa'id Jaser Ali's home. He was taken to a local hospital, where he died early on Thursday.

Ali's death comes as US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to return to the region on Thursday to aid the so-called peace talks between the Israelis and the western-backed Palestinian Authority.

The negotiations have made no outward progress, and Palestinian officials have repeatedly threatened to take Israel before the International Criminal Court for illegal settlement expansion and killing civilians.

Violence in the West Bank has increased in recent months, and at least 19 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed in the occupied territory since the negotiations got under way after a three-year break.

Human rights group B'Tselem, which monitors the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said that the number of killings in the West Bank in 2013 had jumped three-fold over the previous year.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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