Friday, December 13, 2013
The Associated Press
JERUSALEM — Clashes erupted Saturday in the West Bank, where Jewish settlers shot two Palestinian demonstrators in the northern village of Kusra, an Israeli military official and Palestinian residents said.
The clashes reflected mounting friction in the West Bank, where Palestinians have faced off against Israeli troops in recent weeks in a series of large demonstrations protesting Israel's control of the territory in general and in solidarity with four hunger-striking prisoners in Israeli jails.
Also Saturday, a Palestinian prisoner died in an Israeli jail, an event that is likely to intensify tension in the area.
In the West Bank skirmish, Helmi Abdul-Aziz, 24, was shot in the stomach by Jewish settlers, Palestinian demonstrators said. They said Jewish settlers also shot 14-year-old Mustafa Hilal in the foot.
An Israeli military official confirmed that two Palestinians were shot, but said the bullets appeared to have been fired by Jewish settlers because the Israeli forces were not using live ammunition.
A Palestinian hospital official said Abdul-Aziz was in serious condition.
Villagers said the clashes began when a group of Jewish settlers encroached on their village lands and fired guns. They said Jewish settlers chased a Palestinian farmer and his family off land, prompting the farmer to call on residents to confront the settlers, and men on both sides hurled rocks at each other.
Two Palestinian residents watching the clashes, Basem Nazal and Abdul-Azim Wadi, said Israeli forces fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets on demonstrators, and that a rubber bullet hit a 15-year-old Palestinian demonstrator in the eye.
Nazal, a resident of Kusra, said groups of settlers were uprooting their olive trees and vandalizing Palestinian homes close the wildcat Jewish outpost of Eish Kodesh.
Israel Radio reported that settlers from Eish Kodesh said the clashes began when Palestinians entered their outpost and began destroying their vineyards.