Armed settler guards attack mosque in Wadi Hilweh; shots fired at Palestinian residents
Violence has swept through Wadi Hilweh again as Israeli settler security guards attempted to storm the neighborhood mosque, in what marks the third time such an attack has been launched on the local religious site. Settler guards fired live ammunition at Palestinian residents in the ensuing clashes that erupted. Police claim that stones were thrown at the occupied home of Khader al-Qaq in Wadi Hilweh last night. Three hours later a group of armed Elad settler guards attempted to storm the Wadi Hilweh mosque, using a fire extinguisher to try and break through the door. As the mosque's emergency call sounded out from the minarets, the guards attempted to flee the scene. Palestinians of Wadi Hilweh flocked to the site of the attack to defend their mosque, where skirmishes soon broke out between residents and settler guards. Shots were fired by armed settler guards at Palestinian residents during the clashes. Wadi Hilweh resident Mohammad Qaraeen stated that when he tried to alert the police to the attack, the police officer on duty hung up on him. When he tried to call a second time, the police did not arrive until several hours afterwards. The area was invaded soon after by a large force of Israeli military and Border Police, stationed in the nearby suburb of Baten el-Hawa. The invading forces immediately began firing rounds of tear gas projectiles at crowds of Palestinian residents, causing widespread suffocation as a result of gas inhalation. A fire was started by a group of angry youths at the entrance to Aid el-Hamra, an area under control of the Elad tourism-settlement project "City of David", in response to the secondary invasion of their community. Residents and journalists were then prevented from accessing the area by Israeli forces, who began firing rubber bullets, tear gas projectiles and sound bombs at the crowd. Eyewitnesses report that Israeli soldiers attempted to arrest a Palestinian child during the clashes. The entire area of Wadi Hilweh was then cordoned off by the Israeli military, blocking all entrances to the neighborhood.