bilin - Reuters - December 31 2010
Palestinian, Israeli and foreign activists run away from tear gas in the West Bank village of Bil'in, December 31, 2010. Photo by Reuters
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The IDF's commander in the West Bank, Brig. Gen. Nitzan Alon, refuted Friday the Palestinian claims that a Bil'in woman died as a result of inhaling tear gas at an anti-separation fence protest last week, saying she died of other medical complications.

Nitzan said that over the past week, the Israel Defense Forces' initial conjecture that it was not the tear gas that had killed 36-year-old Jawaher Abu Rahmah has strengthened.

"She most probably died as a result of other complications, combined with problems in the medical care she received at the Palestinian hospital," Nitzan said.

Bil'in residents claim that Rahmah died after inhaling tear gas fired by IDF soldiers during a protest against the West Bank security barrier last Friday.

The IDF opened their investigation into the incident on Sunday, and the exact circumstances remain unclear.

Mohammed Eideh, who treated Abu Rahmah in the West Bank city of Ramallah, said she had asthma. Her parents said she did not. Some reports said she was quickly released from hospital and later died.

The family's attorney accused the army on Sunday of lying about the circumstances surrounding her death.

Nitzan also spoke about the weekly protest against the separation fence in Bil'in, saying that some one thousand people came to protest on Friday – a much larger number than the usual dozens.

Among the protesters were hundreds of Israeli left-wing activists who came to identify with the residents of Bil'in following the death of Rahmah.