Two days of clashes in al-Khalil in connection with prisoners' hunger strike
30th April 2017 | International Solidarity Movement, Khalil Team | al-Khalil (Hebron), occupied Palestine
Heavy clashes broke out during two consecutive days as Israeli forces stormed the Bab Al-Zawiah neighborhood in al-Khalil, attacking young Palestinians protesting in solidarity with the ongoing prisoners' hunger strike. It resulted in multiple persons being injured, caused by live ammunition and teargas, and at least one protestor being detained.
Clashes erupted on Thursday in the Bab al-Zawiyah area of Hebron between Palestinian youths and the forces of the Israeli Army and Border Police. Minor confrontations occurred in the souq in the morning before the situation escalated at noon when several platoons of Israeli soldiers, accompanied by Border Police, entered Bab al-Zawiah in the nominally Palestinian controlled H1 area, causing anger among the hundred-or-so Palestinian youths congregated there.
On Thursday, a general strike was held across occupied Palestine in solidarity with the 1500 Palestinians currently on hunger strike in Israeli prisons, demanding their right to humane and fair treatment in accordance with international law. Consequently, all shops and public transportation were shut down during the day. Many Palestinian youths had congregated in the Bab al-Zawiyah neighbourhood -- not far from Ibn Rusht square, where a solidarity tent has been erected in support of the hunger striking prisoners -- to express their anger through spontaneous protests.
At around 12:30 on Thursday, at least two platoons of Israeli soldiers and around 10 border police made their way up the souq towards the vegetable market and Bab al-Zawiya. While initially seemingly halting their movements at the H1/H2 border, the soldiers soon took up positions around 200 meters into the nominally Palestinian controlled H1. From there, the Israeli forces began bombarding the surrounding area with teargas and sound grenades, as well as shooting with live ammunition into the temporarily dispersing crowd of protesters.
Additional groups of Israeli forces soon swamped the roofs of the area, from which protesters were targeted with continuous showers of sound grenades. Swaying back and forth among a few centrally located streets, the clashes continued for several hours as the ground became littered with empty teargas cartridges, grenades, and spent ammunition.
Fighting continued throughout the day as Israeli forces used live ammunition, sound grenades, and large amounts of teargas against Palestinians, who responded by throwing stones and burning tires. In addition to the numerous injuries caused by the indiscriminate firing of teargas canisters, ISM activists witnessed at least two Palestinians being seriously wounded after being shot with live ammunition in their feet. The two young protesters were quickly carried away and rushed to hospital.
Later in the afternoon the intensity of the clashes began to subside as the Israeli forces retreated back into H2. However, at around 17:30 several platoons of solders began to once again cross into Bab al-Zawiya which was by then all but empty. Their incursion soon caused renewed anger among the youths still present in the area, resulting in a resumption of clashes.