West Bank, 23 Rabiul Awwal 1434 H/3 February 2013(MINA)-Israeli occupation soldiers used tear gas and stun grenades on Saturday (2/1) to disperse about 150 Palestinians trying to block expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

      Both sides sustained light injuries as the soldiers removed about a dozen tents and small huts from land adjacent to the Palestinian northern West Bank village of Burin, Palestinian witnesses said, according to Ahram Online reports monitored by Miraj News Agency (MINA), Sunday.

       It was the third time in recent weeks that Palestinians had set up an encampment in what they said was an attempt to hamper the expansion of Israeli settlements on the West Bank. The previous two were also cleared by Israeli security forces.

       Palestinians want to establish an independent state in the West Bank, dominated by Palestinian activists under the government, and the Gaza Strip, run by the partner Hamas, with East Jerusalem as the capital.

      About 500,000 Israelis and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2010 ago over the issue of Israel’s continued settlement building.

       The Burin protesters said they had been buoyed by a report issued on Thursday by United Nations human rights investigators who called on Israel to halt settlement expansion and withdraw all settlers, adding that the practice could be subject to prosecution as a possible war crime.

       While Israel’s foreign ministry swiftly rejected the report as counter productive and unfortunate for them. Palestinians welcomed the report, saying it vindicated their struggle against Israel.

       The West Bank, including East Jerussalem, has a land area of 5,640 km2 and 220 km2 water, the northwest quarter of the Dead Sea. It has an estimated population of 2,622,544 (June 2012).

       More than 80 percent, about 2,600,000, are Palestinian Arabs, and approximately 500,000 are Jewish Israelis living in the West Bank, including about 192,000 in East Jerusalem,  in Israeli settlements.

      The international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.  (T/P04/E1)

Miraj News Agency (MINA)

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