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Israeli army says tear gas, not beating, killed Palestinian

February 23, 2018

JERUSALEM (AP) — An initial inquiry suggests that a Palestinian whose beating by soldiers was caught on video may have died from tear gas inhalation, the Israeli military said Friday, ahead of a planned autopsy. Meanwhile, Palestinians continued to clash with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and along the Gaza Strip border.

The incident under investigation by the military took place early Thursday during a raid in the West Bank town of Jericho.

In a security camera video, several soldiers are seen kicking and beating the man with rifles while he is on the ground. The army said soldiers used force to subdue him after he tried to attack them with an iron bar and grab a gun. It added that a medic examined the detainee at the time and assessed his condition to be “normal.”

The statement added that his condition deteriorated when he was later exposed to tear gas fired by soldiers trying to disperse Palestinian protesters. The man was later identified as a 33-year-old Jericho man who, according to relatives, did not suffer from health problems.

Meanwhile, Palestinians staged protests in more than a dozen West Bank locations and on the Israel-Gaza border after Muslim noon prayers Friday, the army said. Protesters threw stones and fire bombs and rolled burning tires toward soldiers who responded with tear gas and “selective fire at main instigators,” the army said.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said 22 Palestinians were hurt along the Gaza border, most by rubber bullets and some by gunfire to the legs. In the West Bank, 13 Palestinians were wounded, eight of them by live fire and the others from rubber bullets, according to the ministry.

Palestinians have staged regular protests since President Donald Trump’s recognition in December of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his pledge to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as a future capital and view Trump’s decision as a sign of a pro-Israel bias they say disqualifies Washington from a continued role as the sole Mideast broker.

On Friday, two Trump administration officials in Washington said the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem will open in May to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel declaring independence.

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