Palestinians, Israeli forces clash near West Bank outpost
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli forces clashed with Palestinians in the West Bank in an area that has seen a recent uptick in friction, the Israeli military and Palestinian medics said.
The clashes late Saturday were part of days of tension in the area surrounding a West Bank settlement outpost and a spike in violence elsewhere in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
During the clashes, the military said, hundreds of Palestinians threw rocks and burned tires and shots were fired in the area. The military said forces responded with live fire and “riot dispersal means,” typically tear gas and stun grenades.
The military also said shots were fired from a passing vehicle toward a military post near the West Bank city of Nablus, which is south of Homesh. It was not clear if the shooting was related to the clashes.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said 10 people were wounded by live fire. The Palestinian Health Ministry said one of them, a 17-year-old, was seriously wounded. Dozens of others were wounded by rubber bullets.
A soldier was lightly wounded, the military said.
Homesh, in the northern West Bank, was dismantled as part of Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. But in recent years, Israeli settlers have returned to pray and established an unauthorized outpost at the site.
Last week, at least one Palestinian gunman opened fire on a car filled with Jewish seminary students next to the outpost. Yehuda Dimentman, 25, was killed and two others were wounded near Homesh, which is considered illegal by the Israeli government.
On Thursday, thousands of Jewish nationalists marched to Homesh to mark the end of the mourning period for Dimentman and on Friday, Israeli forces dismantled structures that settlers had erected at the outpost.
According to Israeli media reports, Jewish settlers were expected to march again to the outpost on Saturday night, drawing calls on Palestinian social media for nearby villagers to be on alert.
The clashes come amid an increase in Israeli-Palestinian violence elsewhere in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem. Earlier this month, an ultra-Orthodox Jew was left seriously injured after being stabbed by a Palestinian attacker outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City. A week before, a Hamas militant opened fire in the Old City, killing an Israeli man. Both attackers were killed by Israeli forces.
Settler violence against Palestinians has seen a similar increase during the olive harvest. In mid-November, Jewish settlers attacked a group of Palestinian farmers with pepper spray and clubs in the farmland surrounding Homesh, injuring four people.
Israel captured east Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, and the territories are now home to over 700,000 Israel settlers. Most of the international community considers Israeli settlements illegal obstacles to peace.
The Palestinians seek east Jerusalem and the West Bank as parts of a future independent state.