Five Palestinians Killed, 15 Wounded In West Bank
BETHLEHEM, Occupied West Bank (AP) _ Israeli police and soldiers shot and killed five Palestinians and wounded at least 15 today in two clashes in occupied West Bank, hospital officials said.
Most of the casualties occurred in the village of Nahalin, where Israeli border police killed four Palestinians and wounded at least 15 while trying to make arrests before dawn, the hospital officials said.
Israeli troops opened fire on rioters in nearby Bethlehem and killed at least one Palestinian, hospital officials said. Another resident reportedly died of wounds from an earlier clash.
Israeli military officials confirmed just one Palestinian died and four were wounded in the raid on Nahalin. Other Arab reports said as many as six Palestinians were killed today, and Israel radio reported dozens were wounded.
An ambulance driver interviewed on Israel radio said he took four bodies from Nahalin to the hospital. Villagers said at least one other Palestinian was buried without going to a hospital, but that could not be confirmed.
An army announcement said the shootings in Nahalin, which is six miles south of Jerusalem, occurred during a pre-dawn arrest raid.
An army spokeswoman told reporters that a senior army commander entered Nahalin to investigate the shooting.
″We are trying to check with the hospitals now. Initial reports indicate the border police went into the village, saw activity and were attacked,″ she said on condition of anonymity.
Villagers from Nahalin, interviewed in hospitals, said about 300 Israeli border police and army soldiers in 35 jeeps staged the raid.
″It was a massacre,″ Mohammed Mustafa, 59, a farmer from Nahalin told a reporter at Mukassed hospital in Jerusalem. ″The army came to kill. They fired indiscriminately.″
However, another Arab villager, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said troops opened fire after being attacked with stones by a dozen Palestinians. He said about 70 soldiers were in Nahalin.
The army clamped a curfew on Nahalin, barring journalists and forcing the 2,000 Palestinian residents to stay indoors.
Nahali teacher Mohammed Ali told reporters at Beit Jalla hospital near Bethlehem that youths blocked roads and stoned border police and soldiers who entered Nahali. But the troops circumvented barricades and entered on foot.
″Border police got on the roof and fired down on the people,″ Ali said.
Some villagers suggested Jewish settlers were involved in the shooting, but Ali said he saw no civilians. The rumors added to tensions in nearby Bethlehem.
In Jerusalem, officials at Mukassed Hospital said they treated 16-year-old Fuad Yussef Najajra of Nahalin, who died of a gunshot wound to the head.
In the Beit Jalla hospital near Bethlehem, officials said they had two bodies. They said Subhi Mahmoud Shakarna, 21, died of a gunshot in the chest while Riyad Ali Shakarna, 22, a relative, was killed by a shot in the head. Both were shot on the rooftop of Nahalin mosque, villagers said. There were no details of the fourth fatality reported by hospital officials.
Residents in Bethlehem rioted after Mukassed hospital doctors reported 17- year-old Daoud Khaled Nasser died of wounds suffered in an April 6 clash with troops. Reporters had watched Nasser killed by a soldier who opened fire without warning, in apparent violation of army regulations.
Roads leading to Bethlehem’s Manger Square, where Nasser was shot, were blocked with rocks, burning tires and overturned dump trucks. At least 300 Palestinians, including women and children, stoned military jeeps and waved Palestinian flags, chanting slogans. They fled into side streets when troops fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition.
A Palestinian, his head wrapped in a mask made from an outlawed Palestinian flag, said the demonstration was to protest the death of Nasser, whom he charged was shot intentionally. The army later forced reporters out of the city, saying it was a closed military area.
Mukassed doctors said family members later contacted the hospital to say a youth was killed in the demonstration.
At least 430 Palestinians have been killed in the 16-month uprising in the occupied territories. Eighteen Israelis also have died.