Palestinians Report Nine People Wounded in Clashes With Jewish Settlers in West Bank Village

One Palestinian reportedly taken to hospital after being shot with live bullets; 30-year-old Palestinian prisoner dies of a heart attack while incarcerated in Megiddo jail.

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Violent clashes erupted on Saturday near the West Bank village of Qusra, south of Nablus, between villagers and Jewish settlers from nearby Jewish outpost. IDF forces arrived on the scene and employed crowd-control measures.

The Palestinians reported nine people wounded, among them seven from rubber bullets. According to testimonies, two people were wounded by live fire – one in the abdomen and one in the leg. IDF sources said that an initial investigation found that one of the Jewish settlers involved in the incident may have opened live fire. The IDF added that it was still investigating the matter.

According to the IDF, about 200 Palestinians and 25 settlers took part in the clashes, with both sides hurling rocks at the other. Palestinian sources claim the clashes erupted after settlers from the nearby Esh Kodesh outpost uprooted olive trees and threw rocks at houses in the village.

Earlier on Saturday, Palestinian sources reported a 24-year-old man was shot in the stomach. A Palestinian hospital official and two villagers said the man, Helmi Abdul-Aziz, was in serious condition after being shot in the stomach. The medic requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The Associated Press reported that two residents watching the clashes, Basem Nazal and Abdul-Azim Wadi, said Israeli forces dispersing the Palestinians used tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets - but not live fire.

Settler officials were not immediately available for comment on the Jewish Sabbath, but villagers said the most likely perpetrator was a Jewish settler. They said a group of Israeli civilians had encroached onto their village lands armed with guns that they initially fired during the melee.

Ealier on Saturday, Arafat Jaradat, a 30-year-old Palestinian prisoner, died of a heart attack Saturday afternoon while incarcerated in Megiddo jail. His fellow prisoners said that he was in good physical condition, and that the reason for his death was the pressure he was put under while being interrogated, which allegedly included torture.

Israel Prison Service authorities stated that Jaradat was feeling ill prior to his death, and after complaining of pains was seen by a prison doctor a number of times on Thursday. In response to his death, riots erupted in the area of Samir village near Hebron, where he had resided.

Jaradat was arrested five days ago, after fellow residents of his village said he was involved in stone-throwing incidents near the Kiryat Arba settlement at the time of operation 'Pillar of Defense' in November 2012, from which an Israeli citizen was hurt.

He was taken for interrogation by the Shin Bet security service, who said that Jaradat admitted to participating in rock-throwing at road number 60 during the operation.

They also stated that prior to his arrest, and during his interogation, his back pains were known to the authorities, and that it is known that in the past he was hurt by a rubber bullet to his left foot, and by a gas grenade to his stomach.

The shin bet issued a statement saying Jaradat complained of pain and was checked by medical personnel. On last Thursday he was checked by medical staff on a number of occasions, but according to them, no problems were detected and his interrogation was continued.

A Palestinian protestor (R) clashes with an Israeli settlers in the West Bank village of Qusra near Nablus on February 23, 2013. Credit: AFP
Clashes in the West Bank, Feb. 2013.Credit: AFP and Haaretz

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