2 Pales­tinian youths killed in West Bank clashes

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY IAN DEITCH AND MO­HAMMED DARAGH­MEH

Two Pales­tinian teens, in­clud­ing a 13-year-old boy, were killed by Is­raeli army fire in West Bank clashes Mon­day, rais­ing con­cerns about a fur­ther es­ca­la­tion af­ter a vi­o­lent week­end that left sev­eral Is­raeli civil­ians dead and hun­dreds of Pales­tini­ans wounded.

The 13-year-old, Ab­del Rah­man Shadi, died af­ter be­ing hit by a live bullet to the chest while another Pales­tinian pro­tester was wounded in clashes that took place at Rachel’s Tomb in Beth­le­hem, ac­cord­ing to a doc­tor at the Beit Jala hos­pi­tal.

The Is­raeli mil­i­tary con­firmed troops opened fire, and said it was in­ves­ti­gat­ing fur­ther.

Ear­lier Mon­day, an 18-year-old Pales­tinian was killed in clashes in the north­ern West Bank town of Tulka­rem, ac­cord­ing to a doc­tor there. Both doc­tors spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to talk to the media.

In Tulka­rem, hun­dreds of Pales­tini­ans — at a rally or­ga­nized by the mil­i­tant Is­lamic group Ha­mas — threw fire­bombs, rolled burn­ing tires and threw rocks at sol­diers who even­tu­ally opened fire af­ter us­ing tear gas and stun grenades, the Is­raeli mil­i­tary said.

The latest surge of vi­o­lence comes at a time when most Pales­tini­ans no longer be­lieve in the pos­si­bil­ity of state­hood through ne­go­ti­a­tions with Is­rael. At the same time, Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas has not charted an al­ter­na­tive path to in­de­pen­dence.

Gaps re­main vast be­tween him and Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu on the ground rules of ne­go­ti­a­tions, and the two have been trad­ing blame.

The diplo­matic dead­lock has been ac­com­pa­nied by ris­ing ten­sions at a key Jerusalem shrine revered by Mus­lims and Jews.

On Sun­day, the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment to take un­prece­dented se­cu­rity mea­sures. As of Sun­day, it barred Pales­tinian res­i­dents of Jerusalem from en­ter­ing the Old City for two days dur­ing a Jewish hol­i­day, in an at­tempt to curb Pales­tinian at­tacks. Pales­tini­ans who live, work and study within the Old City, as well as Is­raelis and tourists, are al­lowed in.

Is­raeli po­lice said Pales­tini­ans threw rocks and fire­bombs in mostly Arab ar­eas of Jerusalem in the night from Sun­day to Mon­day. The Pales­tinian Red Cres­cent said over 450 Pales­tini­ans were in­jured in the vi­o­lent protests over the last two days.

Much of the re­cent vi­o­lence has stemmed from ten­sions at the sa­cred hill­top com­pound, which has been a fre­quent flash­point. Its fate is a core is­sue at the heart of the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict. It is known to Jews as the Tem­ple Mount, site of the two bib­li­cal Jewish tem­ples. Mus­lims re­vere it as the Noble Sanc­tu­ary, where they be­lieve the Prophet Muham­mad as­cended to heaven.

There have been sev­eral days of clashes at the site over the past few weeks as Pales­tini­ans bar­ri­caded them­selves in­side the AlAqsa mosque while hurl­ing stones, fire­bombs and fire­works at po­lice. The un­rest later spread to Arab neigh­bor­hoods of east Jerusalem and to the West Bank.

The Is­raeli ban came hours af­ter a 19- year- old Pales­tinian, Muhan­nad Hal­abi, at­tacked an Is­raeli fam­ily as they walked in the Old City, killing the fa­ther, se­ri­ously wound­ing the mother and lightly in­jur­ing their 2-year-old tod­dler be­fore pro­ceed­ing to stab another Is­raeli man to death. He then opened fire at tourists and po­lice be­fore he was shot and killed by po­lice­men who had rushed to the scene.

Hal­abi’s com­ments on Face­book prior to the at­tack, along with a sim­i­lar post by another at­tacker, have added to fears and public de­bate over whether the specter of another Pales­tinian In­tifada, or upris­ing, is on the hori­zon

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