Israel Continues Siege on Palestinians in Al-Khalil

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Israeli forces have shot and injured two Palestinians in the village of Dura amid a continued army blockade on the al-Khalil (Hebron) area of the southern occupied West Bank.

Israel Continues Siege on Palestinians in Al-Khalil

"All of the villages south of Hebron have been closed off," Issa Amro, director of the al-Khalil-based Youth Against Settlements activist group, told Al Jazeera by telephone on Saturday night.

"We've been under siege for two days now."

Amro said all entrances to al-Khalil - the most populous Palestinian city in the West Bank - had been closed except for one, which leads to Road 60, a major north-south highway.

"[Soldiers] have placed a checkpoint at the entrance. They are stopping every car," he said.

The entrances of several nearby villages were closed off by the Israeli army as extensive searches of the area continue.

The crackdown comes in the wake of two deadly days, during which two Palestinians and two Israelis were killed.

"Last night they were doing house to house searches in al-Thahiriyah, al-Fawwar camp, al-Samu, Dura and Hebron city," Amro added. "Today in Hebron there were clashes early in the morning, around 4 or 5 am."

Israeli forces locked down the al-Khalil area on Friday after an Israeli family from the Otniel settlement in al-Khalil was allegedly targeted by unknown gunmen, killing one man and injuring three others.

As of Saturday night, Israeli troops were still combing the area in search of suspects.

More than 530,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements - considered illegal under international law - across the West Bank, including East al-Quds (East Jerusalem), according to the Israeli group B'Tselem.

After a Palestinian teen killed a 13-year-old Israeli girl in the Kiryat Arba settlement near al-Khalil on Thursday night, several Israeli politicians pledged to build more settlements across the occupied Palestinian territory.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Friday approved the construction of 42 new housing units in Kiyrat Arba.

On the outskirts of the West Bank's largest city, the settlement is home to a thousands of Israeli settlers who live under heavy army guard.

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, a member of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party, said Israel would "build in Sarona and Kiryat Arba, in Jaffa and Jerusalem, in Itamar and Beersheba," referring to areas in the West Bank and present-day Israel.

Yehuda Glick, a far-right Israeli politician, called for Israel to annex the West Bank and Jewish-Israelis to increase their excursions into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site for Muslims.

Early Saturday morning, Israeli forces bombed four sites across the besieged Gaza Strip after Palestinian fighters fired a rocket into the southern Israeli city of Sderot. No casualties were reported.

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