Israeli Forces Fire at Palestinian Youths in W. Bank, Farmers in Gaza

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Israeli Occupation Forces and Palestinian students clash on February 28, 2015. Anadolu/Issam Rimawi

Published Monday, March 2, 2015

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) shot and injured two young Palestinians on Sunday morning in Duheisha refugee camp south of Bethlehem in the southern West Bank, Ma’an news agency reported.

Locals told Ma'an that clashes broke out early morning between Palestinian youths and the IOF, who raided the refugee camp at dawn to detain a young man. The injured were rushed to Bethlehem’s public hospital.

An Israeli army spokeswoman claimed that Palestinians threw a grenade at soldiers who were raiding the camp, prompting them to responded with live fire at “the lower extremities.”

After shooting at locals, Israeli troops then detained 26-year-old Bilal al-Saifi and took him to an unknown destination.

Sunday’s raid came a week after the IOF shot and killed a Palestinian teenager during a predawn arrest raid in Duheisha refugee camp.

Jihad Shehada al-Jaafari, 19, was shot under his left shoulder while standing on the rooftop of his house near the main road by the camp.

An autopsy report revealed that Jaafari was shot in the upper body at “close range.”

In February, Israeli forces shot and injured 17-year-old Jamel Shtewi and 17-year-old Mohammed Yousef Burqan in annexed East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

In December, a single bullet to the heart fired by an Israeli soldier was enough to kill 17-year-old Imam Jamil Ahmed Dweikat, a Palestinian teen from the town of Beita south of Nablus.

Imam was the 50th Palestinian to be killed in the occupied West Bank by Israeli forces that year, and at least the 2,335th Palestinian to be killed by the Israeli military in 2014, including those killed in the Gaza Strip.

Since September 2000, following the Second Intifada, at least 9,100 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis, including 2,053 Palestinian children, the equivalent of one Palestinian child being killed every three days for the past 14 years.

The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-famous "Balfour Declaration," called for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state — a move never recognized by the international community.

Gaza farmers under Israeli fire

Meanwhile, Israeli naval boats on Monday opened fire at fishermen off the coast of northern Gaza, residents said.

After being shot at, the fishermen, who were near the neighborhood of al-Sudaniyya, rushed back to shore.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was looking into the incident.

Israeli forces frequently shoot at farmers, fishermen and other civilians inside the Gaza Strip if they approach large swathes of land near the border that the Israeli military has deemed off-limits to Palestinians.

The "security buffer zone" extends between 500 meters and 1,500 meters into the Strip, effectively turning local farms into no-go zones.

Similarly on Sunday, residents said Israeli boats opened fire at fishermen. No injuries were reported.

Israeli forces have previously fired at several fishermen, claiming they had ventured beyond the six nautical miles limit allowed by the Israeli authorities as part of the Egypt-brokered ceasefire deal which ended its 51-day offensive on the Gaza Strip, as opposed to the three miles assigned previously. Palestinian authorities have rejected the assertion that the fishermen had violated the limit.

For seven weeks this summer, Israel pounded the Gaza Strip by air, land and sea, killing 2,310 Gazans, 70 percent of them civilians, and injuring 10,626.

The assault left the densely populated enclave in ruins, displacing more than a quarter of Gaza's population of 1.7 million and leaving 100,000 people, mostly children, homeless.

According to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, over 96,000 Palestinian family homes were damaged or destroyed during the aggression, including 7,000 homes that were completely lost. UNRWA has estimated that at least $720 million is needed to address the housing crisis caused by the conflict. Besides homes, the Israeli strikes targeted 30 hospitals and 27 health centers.

The restrictions on Gaza’s fishermen have crippled the coastal enclave’s fishing industry and impoverished local fishermen.

According to a 2011 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross, 90 percent of Gaza’s 4,000 fishermen are poor, an increase of 40 percent from 2008 as a direct result of Israeli limits on the fishing industry.

According to Nizar Ayyash, head of Gaza's Palestinian Fishermen's Union, some 50,000 Gazans earn a living from the fishing business. He estimated their combined losses during Israel's recent war at more than $6 million.

(Ma’an, Al-Akhbar)


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