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Palestinian police use tear gas, batons to disperse protest

Female Israeli and Palestinian members of the 'Parents Circle Families Forum' march on a road near the West Bank village of al-Khader near the biblical town of Bethlehem, on March 10, 2017. — AFP pic Female Israeli and Palestinian members of the 'Parents Circle Families Forum' march on a road near the West Bank village of al-Khader near the biblical town of Bethlehem, on March 10, 2017. — AFP pic RAMALLAH, March 13 — Palestinian security forces used tear gas and batons to disperse a protest yesterday at a court involved in the case of five Palestinians, including one recently killed by Israeli forces, activists and lawyers said.

The crowd dispersed included journalists and activists while the protest in the Palestinian political capital Ramallah had been peaceful, a group of human rights organisations said in a statement.

Police said protesters had “blocked the road in front of the court” and that “they refused to comply when security forces ordered them to clear the way”.

“Forces then deployed in accordance with the law,” they said.

Bassel al-Aaraj, 31, was killed on March 5 by Israeli soldiers in Ramallah.

According to the Israeli army, he opened fire at soldiers who came to arrest him at his home and was shot dead.

Palestinian cities such as Ramallah in the occupied West Bank are meant to be under Palestinian security control, though Israeli forces regularly carry out raids there.

Aaraj was involved in both protests against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank as well as the Palestinian leadership.

He was wanted by the Israelis, but had also been detained for several months by the Palestinian Authority with four others for illegal possession of arms and endangering the lives of others.

Israel accused him of being the head of a cell planning attacks against Israel.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority coordinate on security matters, drawing criticism from many Palestinians.

The killing of Aaraj provoked an outpouring of support among Palestinians, including with graffiti in Ramallah and on social media.

The four other suspects were not present in court because they have since been arrested by Israel. Aaraj’s name was withdrawn from the list of suspects yesterday, his lawyer said.

“What we suffered today is an attack on our rights,” his father Mahmud al-Aaraj told reporters after the protest was dispersed.

Mohannad Karajeh, a lawyer defending the accused Palestinians, said he planned to file a complaint on behalf of 12 protesters caught up in the dispersal.

The Palestinian journalists’ union denounced “shameful aggression”. — AFP

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