Palestinians clash with Israeli forces across West Bank

Soldiers violently disperse marchers in Hebron a day after three Palestinians were killed in the city.

Jerusalem checkpoints Israel
At least 43 Palestinians and seven Israelis have been killed in this month's unrest [Oded Balilty/AP]

Palestinians have clashed with Israeli forces and settlers across the West Bank as violence continued to grip the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel.

In the southern West Bank city of Hebron, Palestinian demonstrators marched from a local university to an Israeli settlement, where they were confronted by the army on Sunday afternoon.

More protests were held across the West Bank, including in the city of Nablus, and in the Gaza Strip.

“The soldiers [in Hebron] are firing tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets,” Issa Amro, director of the Youth Against Settlements group, told Al Jazeera, adding that at least 10 Palestinians have been arrested.


The clashes come just a day after five Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli forces or settlers during alleged stabbing attacks – three of them in Hebron.

Triggered by Israeli incursions into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound last month, protests against Israel’s occupation have increased in frequency across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces have responded with a crackdown on protesters, using tear gas, stun grenades, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition.

At least 43 Palestinians – including suspected attackers, unarmed protesters and bystanders – have been killed by Israel since October 1.

Seven Israelis have been killed in attacks by Palestinians this month.

In one incident in Hebron, 18-year-old Fadel al-Kawasmeh was killed by a settler on Saturday afternoon. Palestinians dispute the accusation that the teen had tried to stab the settler.

“The situation is very tense after Kawasmeh was assassinated by the settler,” Amro said. “Hundreds of settlers attacked Palestinian homes near the Kiryat Arba settlement overnight. People defended their homes with rocks and Molotov cocktails.

“People are very scared here. Parents aren’t sending their kids to school, and a lot of people aren’t going to work,” he added. “The settlers are even more violent than the soldiers.”

About 500 Jewish settlers live in a heavily guarded enclave in the city centre surrounded by nearly 200,000 Palestinians.

Israeli settlers were extracted by the army in Nablus on Sunday after clashing with local Palestinian residents near the Joseph’s Tomb, a Jewish holy site that Palestinian youths set fire to on Friday.

Punitive measures

Israeli soldiers also clashed with armed Palestinians in the Qalandia refugee camp and delivered a home demolition order to the family of Tareq al-Dweik, a 22-year-old Palestinian who was arrested after allegedly stabbing four Israelis last week.

Soldiers were forced to withdraw from the camp during confrontations with locals, who prevented them from delivering more home demolition orders.

An army spokesperson said they were “still looking into” the incident.

Last week, Israeli ministers approved a package of security measures, including home demolitions as a punitive move against the families of suspected Palestinian attackers.

Since the latest wave of unrest broke out, Israel has delivered a slew of home demolition orders to Palestinian families.

Rights groups have decried Israel’s recent measures.

The uptick in punitive home demolitions is “a sort of collective punishment which, according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, is strictly forbidden”, according to Al-Haq, a Ramallah-based human rights group.

Several Israeli leaders, including the mayor of Jerusalem, have urged Israeli citizens to carry guns. Last month, the government relaxed live fire rules against Palestinian protesters.

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Nur Arafeh, a policy fellow at Al-Shabaka Policy Network, said that the harsh measures “lead to increased Palestinian resistance”.

“Israeli measures to legalise the killing of Palestinians or quell their protests fail to suppress a population revolting against injustice,” Arafeh told Al Jazeera.

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, a member of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party, announced last week that the government will also begin banishing alleged Palestinian attackers and their relatives from Jerusalem.

With neither Israeli nor Palestinian citizenship, Palestinian Jerusalemites carry Israeli-issued residency papers. Shaked said that attackers and their families will be stripped of their residency rights and social security.

Israeli troops have also been deployed across the city throughout the last week and have sealed off Palestinian neighbourhoods with additional roadblocks and checkpoints.

According to Rima Awad, a member of the Coalition for Jerusalem, a Palestinian rights group, the ongoing crackdown “shows the level of desperation”.

“Israeli leaders are trying to appease the Israeli public … by inciting against Palestinians,” she told Al Jazeera. “But it will only add to the frustrations of Palestinians living in Jerusalem.”

Source: Al Jazeera