Babylon & Beyond

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WEST BANK: Two Palestinians reported killed in army raid on camp

August 1, 2011 | 10:22 am

An Israeli army raid at a Palestinian refugee camp north of Jerusalem has left two Palestinians dead and a third critically wounded, according to witnesses and medical workers. Five Israeli soldiers were reported injured.

The raid occurred at 2:30 a.m. Monday at Qalandia refugee camp, four miles north of Jerusalem. Because it was the first night of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and it was a hot night, many residents of the camp were in the streets, still planning to eat before beginning their required daytime fast at dawn.

When the army unit arrived to arrest activists, clashes broke out, with Palestinians throwing stones and the Israeli army responding with live ammunition, according to witnesses, who said the soldiers fired indiscriminately.

According to witnesses and medical workers, Mu'tasem Awad, 22, was shot in the head and died immediately. Ali Khalifeh, 27, was shot in the stomach and died in a hospital in Ramallah. A third Palestinian was reported in critical but stable condition after being shot in the back.

The soldiers left the camp a few hours later, accompanied by a number of people they had arrested.

The Palestinian Authority condemned the killings as “an Israeli attempt to escalate the situation before September,” when the United Nations General Assembly is expected to consider recognition of a Palestinian state. Israel opposes the statehood campaign at the U.N.

Israeli media quoted an army spokesman as saying camp residents injured five of the soldiers, prompting them to open fire. The army was investigating the reports of two Palestinians dead.

-- Maher Abukhater in Ramallah, West Bank