Violent clashes intensify in Hebron

  • 30/10/2015
A masked Palestinian boy rolls a burning tyre during clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Hebron (Reuters)
A masked Palestinian boy rolls a burning tyre during clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Hebron (Reuters)

Fresh violence has erupted in the volatile West Bank city of Hebron, with an Israeli border guard lightly wounded in one of two knife attacks, and the Palestinian assailants shot dead.

While a spate of protests and attacks in Jerusalem has eased, tensions have concentrated in Hebron, where near-daily clashes pit youths against soldiers enforcing the decades-long occupation of the West Bank.

Many have suggested the latest wave of resistance could be the start of a third Palestinian intifada against Israeli occupation, as frustration boils over with peace talks stalled and no political solution on the horizon for the six-decade-old conflict.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said: "It is time for the international community to take a stand... that would lead to a lasting peace between Palestine and Israel."

"We are against any killings, and we condemn any killings against any civilians," he said on a visit to The Hague.

He added that "the Israeli occupation is the root cause of the instability in the region".

Hamdallah was the first Palestinian leader to clearly condemn recent attacks on civilians, although many of the knifings have targeted Israeli soldiers and police.

Nine Israelis have been killed and dozens wounded in the wave of attacks that began in early October over the status of the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in east Jerusalem, and has seen tensions erupt across the Palestinian territories.

In the West Bank, clashes injured two at a checkpoint in Ramallah, Palestinian medical sources said, with fighting in Bethlehem as well.

Four stone-throwing youths were hurt in Hebron when dozens of them clashed with security forces.

Hebron, a stronghold of the Islamist movement Hamas and a powder keg in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is a city where 500 Israeli settlers live among Palestinians behind barbed-wire, observation towers and under army protection.

Seven Palestinians who stabbed, or attempted to stab, Israeli soldiers there have been shot dead in recent days.

In one attack, a Palestinian stabbed and lightly wounded a border guard near a shrine in Hebron known to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs and to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque.

The attacker, 23-year-old Mahdi al-Mohtaseb, was shot dead.

Separately, Palestinian Faruq Sider, 19, allegedly tried to stab a soldier and was also shot dead, according to the police and army.

Both incidents were followed by clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli security forces.

Video footage showed Sider lying motionless on the ground, blood streaming onto the rain-soaked road as a settler took a photo.