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Israeli invasion of Balata continues
The Israeli occupation army has stepped up the five-day military invasion of the Balata refugee camp in the West Bank.
Last Modified: 21 Dec 2003 06:33 GMT
Ahmed Ismail, 11, was hit in the head by a rubber bullet
The Israeli occupation army has stepped up the five-day military invasion of the Balata refugee camp in the West Bank.

Local residents told Aljazeera.net that soldiers have occupied two new houses inside the camp and are firing rounds of teargas into residents homes.

This is the fifth day of a major army invasion into the refugee camp and surrounding city of Nablus.

Palestinian sources, including the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) say this is one of the biggest invasions that the occupation army has launched in recent times in Balata.

The PCHR says 50 Israeli military vehicles, supported by helicopter gunships, moved into Nablus through the southern and eastern entrances four days ago. The military vehicles and gunships opened fire at houses and on streets in the city.

Refugee camp

The invasion began on 16 December when local people reported that 15 military jeeps invaded the camp and began house to house searches.

The Israeli army says that the invasion is part of their campaign to root out ''terrorists'' in the camp. On 16 December, occupation troops surrounded the camp and set up snipers. Around 50 residents are reported to have been forced at gunpoint into a single apartment and restrained according to Palestinian media reports.

A Palestinian boy, Ahmed Ismai, was left in a coma after being shot in the head by Israeli troops during the raid. Eight more Palestinians were injured including a two-year-old boy.

Palestinian youth throw stones
at the Israeli military in Balata

A resident living in the camp who didn't want to be named for fear of reprisals from occupation troops, told Aljazeera.net that soldiers had arrested at least 20 men on Friday, five from one family, and made seven more arrests today. Gun shots could be heard in the background.

"The soldiers are firing tear gas out on the streets and into people's homes. They arrested five men from one house near my family home. The soldiers are going door to door to search for people. This invasion has been going on now for four days, we want them (the army) to leave the camp."

Another local man told Aljazeera.net that people in Balata were defying the orders of the troops and breaking curfew.

"I can see children outside my house throwing stones at the soldiers; there is one tank near the entrance of the camp and a few military vehicles inside the camp."

Nablus

The invasion of Balata coincided with the invasion of Nablus. Israeli tanks and soldiers entered the area of Nablus known as the old city. Palestinian sources have told Aljazeera.net that the soldiers carried out "one wilful killing and used excessive force in the slaying of three other Palestinians."

A woman and her children walk
past soldiers in Balata camp

A paramedics working for the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) in Nablus confirmed that three resistance fighters and one civilian had been killed in the city.

"One of the men had been hit by at least 35 bullets - he was killed in al-Shuhada square, in the centre of Nablus", said the medical worker.

The PCHR has named one of the dead men as 25-year-old Alaa al-Din Dawaia, from Nablus who was killed on 18 December. According to PRCH workers Dawaia was denied medical attention by soldiers.

"At approximately 03:30, Israeli soldiers fired at the 25-year-old wounding him with a live bullet in the chest. No ambulances were permitted access to the area and Dawaia remained on the ground bleeding until 04:00. At that time, a number of Israeli soldiers moved towards him and shot him dead with 8 live bullets".

Israeli occupying forces deny this version of events, and claim that Dawaia was attempting to plant an explosive device in the path of an Israeli military vehicle.

The PRCH says that eyewitnesses told the organisation that the man was on his way to work at a local bakery when he was killed.

Source:
Aljazeera
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