Israeli forces, Palestinians clash throughout West Bank

Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:46am EST
 

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian protesters throughout the occupied West Bank on Friday, capping a week of violence amid a hunger strike by four Palestinians in Israeli jails.

Tension and anticipation is rising in the West Bank a month before U.S. President Barack Obama is due to visit Jerusalem and Ramallah, though he has announced no concrete plans to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks stalled for three years.

From the precincts of Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque, both one of Islam's holiest sites and revered by Jews as the site of their Biblical temple, youths threw stones at Israeli police after Friday prayers.

Dozens of Israeli officers briefly entered the politically sensitive compound. Witnesses said officers fired tear gas and threw percussion grenades at the demonstrators as bystanders and elderly worshippers ran for cover.

A police spokesman said no tear gas was fired, but that protesters were throwing firecrackers.

The old city of Hebron, a bitterly contested city in the southern West Bank sown heavily with Israeli settlers, echoed with percussion grenades hurled by Israeli forces at some 1,500 Palestinian protesters.

At a military checkpoint near the northern city of Nablus and outside a military prison in the central West Bank, Israeli forces worked to clear away makeshift roadblocks and fired rubber bullets towards stone-throwing Palestinians.

There were dozens of light injuries from gas inhalation and rubber and aluminum bullets, witnesses said.

Palestinians seek statehood in territories Israel captured in a 1967 war. Peace talks broke down in 2010 over Palestinian objections to Israel expanding settlements on occupied land. Israel has called for resuming the talks without preconditions.   Continued...

 
A protester sits next to a burning tire during clashes with Israeli troops outside Israel's Ofer military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah February 22, 2013. Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian protesters throughout the occupied West Bank on Friday, capping a week of violence amid a hunger strike by four Palestinians in Israeli jails. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman