Israeli forces fire tear gas at Christian pilgrims in al-Eizariya

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Dozens of Christian pilgrims suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation on Friday after Israeli troops fired tear gas canisters as they performed religious rites at the Tomb of Lazarus in al-Eizariya in East Jerusalem.

Israeli soldiers reportedly refused to stop firing tear gas canisters despite the presence of pilgrims after clashes had broken out between local youths and Israeli forces in the area.

Witnesses told Ma’an that a tour guide who was escorting the pilgrims asked an Israeli officer to stop firing tear gas canisters until pilgrims left, but the officer continued to fire. The pilgrims had to take shelter in a souvenir shop before they could complete their prayers.

The owner of the souvenir shop also tried to convince the Israeli officer to stop firing tear gas so that the pilgrims could leave, but instead the officer “asked a soldier to fire tear gas canisters at the church and at the pilgrims,” witnesses added.

An Israeli military spokeswoman did not have any information regarding the incident.

The village of al-Eizariya houses the Tomb of Lazarus who, according to the Bible, was miraculously brought back to life by Jesus days after he was buried. 
Separately, fierce clashes broke out Friday between Israeli troops and young men in al-Eizariya and Abu Dis, a local spokesman told Ma’an. 

Hani Halabiya, a spokesman of local popular committees in East Jerusalem added that a young man sustained minor wounds after he was hit by a rubber-coated steel bullet. 

He added that Israeli troops stationed themselves inside a Muslim cemetery and fired at the Palestinian protestors. They also tried to ambush protestors in the cemetery.

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