Ma'an News Agency
March 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Israeli forces detained 14 Palestinians overnight from the southern West Bank town of Beit Ummar, as construction of military road blocks and a fence surrounding one side of the residential area continue.

Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad estimated that 150 Israeli soldiers entered the town during the campaign, which began at 2:30 a.m., as soldiers entered homes with sniffer dogs and took residents.

Twelve of the 14 taken were identified, seven of them under the age of 18, one of whom was only 15 years old.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed that 14 were detained, adding that they were all "taken for security questioning."

Awwad identified those detained as Jameel Ahmad Hamed Az-Za’aqeeq, 15, Hassan Majed Ahmad Sleiby, 16, Allam Yousif Bader Awad,16, Muhammad Azzam Husni Az-Za’aqeeq, 16, Malek Nayef Hammad Sleiby, 16, Ahmad Yasser Muhammad Az-Za’aqeeq, 17, Muhammad Yousef Khaled Sabarneh, 17, Muhammad Yasser Muhammad Az-Za’aqeeq, 18, Ahmad Yousef Khaled Sabarneh, 18, Shareef Fathi Ismail Baragheet, 18, Muntaser Ibrahim Ali Akel Ikhlil, 20, Ahmad Muhammad Abdul Jawad Ikhlil, 28.

In the early morning hours, as workers tried to leave the town via the bus and service taxi station at the southeastern entrance of the area, Awwad said, confrontations erupted.

The activist said Israeli forces were preventing buses and taxis from collecting passengers, stranding workers in the town.

"Soldiers were chasing down residents who were trying to get to work," Awwad said, noting the use of tear gas and sound bombs to drive the men and women back into their homes.

Israeli military activity has been stepped up in Beit Ummar, with forces out in large numbers protecting construction crews installing a fence Awwad estimated would be 150 meters long and seven meters high, enclosing the southern flank of the town.

An Israeli army spokesman said Sunday that "In response to incidents of rock throwing at Israeli cars driving from the village of Beit Omer [sic], a number of temporary blocks were placed at certain entrances to the village (though not including the main entrance) in an attempt to stymie such actions."

Metal gates, he added, were being installed on the street leading from the town to the cemetery.

Last week a settler opened fire on Beit Ummar residents at a funeral procession as they walked to the cemetery, injuring two, one critically.

The Israeli news site Ynet said a mourner had "probably" thrown rocks at the settler car, before the driver parked, disembarked and fired on the gathered mourners.


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