*UPDATES WITH GOV'T SPOKESMAN'S STATEMENT
By Qays Abu Samra
NABLUS, Palestine (AA) – The Israeli army on Monday used rubber bullets and tear gas canisters to disperse Palestinian students and officials defying an Israeli order to close a school in the West Bank city of Nablus.
On Sunday, Israeli authorities ordered the closure of the Al-Laban-Al-Sawiya school in Nablus on the pretext that students had hurled stones at Israeli soldiers and settlers.
Despite the order, students and local officials attempted to reopen the school, prompting Israeli forces to use rubber bullets and tear gas canisters to disperse them.
Municipal council chief Samer Eweis was injured by a rubber bullet and AFP photojournalist, Jaafar Ashtiyeh, was hospitalized after being hit in the head by a gas canister, according to an Anadolu Agency correspondent.
Dozens of Palestinians students also suffered temporary asphyxiation after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli forces and were treated on the spot.
The Ramallah-based Palestinian government decried the Israeli closure order as a “new aggression on the Palestinian education”.
"Any attempt to harm the school is a blatant aggression against the educational process and an attack on international law and regulations that guarantee the right to education and knowledge," government spokesman Yousef al-Mahmoud said in a statement.
He called for an urgent international action to stop the Israeli behavior.
The Al-Laban-Al-Sawiya school was attacked by settlers a few months ago and is constantly being attacked by the Israeli army, according to Palestinian residents.