BEIT JALA, West Bank (Reuters) -
Seven foreign peace
activists and a Palestinian television cameraman were wounded
Monday when an Israeli soldier fired at the ground in front of
them, officials and witnesses said.
An Australian peace activist receives treatment at a hospital after being injured when Israeli soldiers opened fire at a demonstration of international peace activists, in the West Bank town of Beit Jala near Bethlehem, April 1, 2002. REUTERS/Magnus Johansson
About 100 demonstrators, Palestinian and foreign, were
marching through the center of the West Bank town of Beit Jala
behind a sign saying "We want peace not war," witnesses said.
As they approached an Israeli armored personnel carrier, a
soldier in the carrier fired several shots from a rifle into
the street in front of them, sending up chips of concrete,
television footage showed.
Health officials said a Palestinian and seven foreigners
were hurt. They included two Americans, two Britons, and one
each from Australia, Japan and France.
The Palestinian, who was wounded in the leg, was a
cameraman covering the march for the Associated Press,
An Israeli soldier also kicked and pushed a Reuters
cameraman and fired one shot over his head while covering the
demonstration. He was unhurt.
An Israeli soldier stops a TV cameraman filming a demonstration of international peace activists in the West Bank town of Beit Jala near Bethlehem, April 1, 2002. Five foreign peace marchers and a Palestinian television cameraman were injured by shrapnel when Israeli soldiers fired at their feet, witnesses said. Firing started when about 100 demonstrators, including Palestinians and foreigners, marched near a church carrying a sign saying "We want peace not war", they said. REUTERS/Magnus Johansson
Reuters lodged a complaint with the army over the incident.
The director of Beit Jala hospital, Peter Qumri, said one
woman was undergoing surgery to remove shrapnel from her
abdomen and was in a satisfactory condition.
A witness from Beit Jala, who gave his name only as Fouad,
said: "We were just marching in front of the tank and far away
from our position they began to shoot live ammunition on the
"The marchers raised their hands in a peaceful way and they
started shooting immediately," he said. "Six or seven people
were brought to the hospital."
The Israeli army said it was checking the report.
Groups of foreign peace activists are in the West Bank to
show solidarity with Palestinians after Israeli forces sent
troops and tanks Friday to besiege Palestinian President Yasser
Arafat's headquarters in the city of Ramallah.
The army said earlier Monday that troops had stopped 50
foreigners, mostly Italians, from entering Ramallah, where they
had planned to join others who reached Arafat's office Sunday.
The group, calling itself Grassroots International
Protection for the Palestinian People, wants to shield Arafat
from Israeli troops who have taken over most of his compound.
Israeli police said the army had handed over 10 French
nationals to their custody pending their expulsion from
Copyright 2002 Reuters Ltd