Massive West Bank Clash Brings Slew of Casualties, Arrests

Massive West Bank Clash Brings Slew of Casualties, Arrests

Israeli security forces shot dead a Palestinian man and wounded 150 other people Thursday night during a massive protest in the West Bank against Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, Palestinian officials said.

Palestinian security and medical officials named the man as Mohammed Al-Aaraj, 25, and said he was among at least 10,000 people clashing with soldiers and border police in Qalandiya, between Jerusalem and Ramallah.

They said that at least 150 people were injured by live fire in the protest, and five were in critical condition.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas appealed for blood donors.

The army told AFP that live fire was used in a confrontation with thousands of rioters after some threw rocks, firecrackers and petrol bombs at soldiers and border police.

After several hours of conflict, an army spokeswoman said early Friday that the fighting had eased off.

The confrontation, and several smaller skirmishes throughout Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, came on Laylat al-Qadr, or Night of Destiny, when Muslims pray through the night as the holy month of Ramadan nears its end.

Earlier, police had said that due to fears of violent protest over the deadly Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip, they would bar men under the age of 50 from Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al Aqsa mosque for what are usually packed prayers on the last Friday of Ramadan.

Large numbers of police deployed throughout the city on Thursday night and the police said in a statement that two officers were injured by stone throwers in the vicinity of the mosque.

Police said that 20 protesters were arrested in various violent disturbances in Palestinian areas of the city.

Israeli public radio said Palestinians and troops also clashed around the West Bank cities of Nablus, Hebron, Bethlehem and Tulkarem.

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