September 21, 2008 / 10:14 AM / 10 years ago

Palestinian woman dies during Israeli raid on WBank

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A Palestinian woman fell to her death during an Israeli military raid on her village in the occupied West Bank on Sunday and a witness said troops had pushed her, an account disputed by the army.

The soldiers came to Abu Dis, near Jerusalem, overnight in search of suspected Palestinian militants, apparently targeting students lodging in a property owned by 60-year-old Mariam Ayyad.

One of the students, who would only be identified by his nickname, Abu Yaffa, said Ayyad tried to block the troops.

“She went outside in order to prevent them arresting someone from her house,” he told Reuters. “They knocked her down and there was blood on her head.”

An Israeli military spokesman denied this, saying Ayyad fell down some stairs while troops searched nearby but that there was no physical contact between them at the time.

“A military medical unit spent 30 minutes trying to revive her but had to declare her dead. During the resuscitation efforts, her family said she had suffered from heart problems,” the spokesman said.

Ayyad’s family decided against an autopsy and buried her before dawn, said Musa Jaffal, a doctor at a local clinic. Jaffal said Ayyad suffered from diabetes and hypertension.

Nesrin Jasan, an Abu Dis doctor who inspected Ayyad’s body, said she had fallen and struck her head.

Palestinian leaders in the West Bank, where President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction holds sway, have complained that Israeli raids and the expansion of Jewish settlements undermine their peace efforts and a U.S.-backed law-and-order campaign.

Israeli troops killed a 14-year-old Palestinian from Asira al-Kabaliya village in the northern West Bank on Saturday, saying he was about to throw a firebomb at them.

Asira al-Kabaliya saw a September 13 rampage by armed Israeli settlers in which three Palestinians were wounded. The settlers said they were responding to a Palestinian attack in which a child from their community was stabbed and a house torched.

Writing by Dan Williams; editing by Elizabeth Piper

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