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Israelis wound 9 Palestinians at boy's funeral

(Raises casualty toll)

RAMALLAH, West Bank, July 30 (Reuters) - Israeli troops wounded nine Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday in a clash with stone-throwing protesters at the funeral of a 10-year-old boy killed a day earlier, Palestinian medics said.

They said the Israelis had shot the protesters with rubber bullets. A 21-year-old Palestinian was hit in the head and doctors described him as brain dead.

The governor of Ramallah, Said Abu Ali, said an autopsy on the boy killed on Tuesday near the West Bank village of Nilin showed he had been shot in the head by live fire.

"There was a big hole in his head and we couldn't save his life," said Salah Khawaja, a 39-year-old medic who was at the scene. He said the boy had been shot at close range.

Demonstrators gather almost daily at Nilin to protest against the construction of Israel's barrier in the West Bank.

One demonstrator,Mohammed Nafi, 32, said the protest had begun peacefully, with several boys watching as Israeli bulldozers cleared land for the barrier.

"After the bulldozers finished their work, a military jeep belonging the border police pulled over and one soldier knelt down and aimed his rifle at us and shot at us.

"Then Ahmed (the boy) fell down and blood was pouring out of his head," Nafi said, adding that the boy had been standing about 100 metres (yards) from the jeep when the rifle was fired.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenberg said an investigation was under way, but had reached no conclusions. He said protesters had been throwing stones and Israeli border police had fired teargas and rubber bullets.

Israel says the barrier it is building, much of it on West Bank land, is needed to prevent suicide bombings. Palestinians denounce the network of walls and fences as a land grab cutting deep into the territory they seek for an independent state. (Reporting by Mohammed Assadi in Ramallah and Allyn Fisher-Ilan in Jerusalem; Writing by Alistair Lyon; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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