A funeral in Hebron this weekend became the target of a non-fatal weapon used by security forces to disperse crowds during violent protests.
The funeral began as a protest marking the Cave of Patriarchs massacre's anniversary was ending. At a certain point during the rally, which was also in protest of the closing of a street to Palestinian traffic, clashes between protesters and IDF and Border Guard forces erupted.
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The Palestinian forces hurled stones at the forces who responded with crowd dispersal means including use tear gas and the "Skunk" – a vehicle loaded with canons spraying a foul-smelling liquid.
The road in which the clashes broke out also leads to Hebron's Muslim cemetery. Mourners participating in the funeral waited with the body until the clashes subsided in order to proceed towards the cemetery.
"We began the funeral procession and reached 150 meters from where the riots were happening," Samih Fanoun, a family member said. "We waited until the riots finished. A representative of the family explained to the soldiers and officers that there is a funeral going on and that we intend to carry on walking along the road and pass them by on our way to the cemetery."
Fanoun claimed that the officers and soldiers ignored this, and a video documenting the event shows the "Skunk" vehicle dousing the mourners with liquid. The B'Tselem video clearly shows the mourners surrounding the body of the deceased on a stretcher.
Several mourners proceeded towards the forces with the stretcher in order to reach the cemetery only to be showered with the foul-smelling substance. The video shows that the deceased also got doused.
According to Fanoun, the family eventually returned home with the body to clean it and only later headed back for burial at the cemetery.
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said in response: "During the event in question, several violent and illegal riots were going on in Hebron. As part of security forces' preparation for the riots, a line of defense that was not to be crossed was marked.
The funeral at the cemetery, which is beyond the defense line, was coordinated and authorized in advance for a small number of people. In reality, dozens showed up and tried to take advantage of the event in order to infiltrate the Jewish community in Hebron. They failed to respond to the forces' calls to stay away from the area and that is why crowd dispersal means were employed. "
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