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Israel shuts down protests with "closed military zones"

West Bank protests
Maa'an News Agency

Israeli military forces shut down Friday anti-wall protests in villages across the West Bank on May 27, saying the unarmed weekly demonstrations in Palestinian villages have been declared illegal. An army spokesman said the areas between Israel's separation wall and villages Ni'lin and Bil'in, near Ramallah, have been designated "closed military zones" every Friday between 8 AM and 8 PM.

In Nil'in, where the wall cuts off around one third of the village, protesters on last Friday marked the third anniversary of their peaceful protest campaign against the barrier—over the course of which Israeli forces have killed five Palestinians and injured hundreds more. This Friday, for the first time the army installed a checkpoint at the entrance to Ni'lin, stopping residents from joining the protest. Troops fired tear-gas grenades into fields when protesters tried to evade the checkpoint, and residents said over 100 olive trees were set on fire.

At a simultaneous rally in Nabi Saleh, soldiers also enforced a closed military zone and detained six protesters for entering the area and "hurling rocks" at troops, an army spokesperson said. A protest was similarly shut down in al-Ma'sara, south of Bethlehem. Popular committee coordinator Mahmud Zawahra said villagers would continue to protest the confiscation of their lands "despite Israel's suppression." (Ma'an News AgencyArab News, May 27)

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