Palestinians say gas canisters set fire to village land & Israeli forces deny entry to firefighters

Published  16/06/2011 20:39

Palestinian firefighters wait to cross into Israel from the West Bank in December 2010 to help extinguish a fire in northern Israel [MaanImages, File]

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters that started a fire Wednesday and burned acres of olive trees in the occupied West Bank, witnesses said.

Soldiers also fired stun grenades toward fields near the village of Bil’in, near Ramallah, locals said. Villagers tried to put off the fires, but soldiers forbade them from entering and fired more stun grenades at them.

Palestinian civil defense forces sent a fire engine but Israeli forces stopped it from entering, onlookers explained. However, an Israeli fire engine was seen arriving in the same area to put out the fire.

In response to the villagers’ claims, the Israeli military confirmed that a stun grenade was used to disperse a “violent riot” but insisted the weapon did not start the fire.

“The stun grenade has been examined and approved by the appropriate authorities as riot dispersal means. Without connection to IDF activity, a fire started on the Israeli side of the security fence in Bilin.

“The fire was put out by Israeli and Palestinian firefighters; the latter’s involvement was approved by the IDF and coordinated by the Civil Administration,” the military said in a statement.


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