Muslim worshippers run as tear gas fired by Israeli policemen (Photo: Reuters)
Israeli police stormed a school in a Bedouin village in the southern Negev desert on Monday, firing tear gas and bullets and causing 29 children to be taken to hospital, a village leader said.
The incident occurred early in the morning at the village of Bir Hadaj, village council head Salman Abu Hamid told AFP.
Israeli police denied the report, saying their forces clashed with protesters some 300 metres (yards) from the school, as they accompanied interior ministry officials to examine illegally constructed buildings.
"Forces from the interior ministry accompanied by police... entered the village to distribute demolition orders for homes, which led to clashes and stonethrowing," said Abu Hamid.
"The police used live and rubber bullets, and tear gas and stormed the school, injuring 29 students between the ages of eight and 12, who were taken to Soroka hospital."
A spokeswoman for Soroka medical centre in the southern city of Beersheva confirmed to AFP that "29 students suspected of tear gas inhalation were admitted to the hospital, treated and discharged."
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri confirmed there were clashes in the village, with youths throwing stones and burning tyres, but denied police had entered the school.
"The police activity was about 300 metres from the school grounds," she said.