Tensions rise in West Bank

Tensions rise in West Bank


The streets of East Jerusalem are littered with barricades, burning trash and the detritus of battles between stone-throwing Palestinians and Israeli forces.

Violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Jerusalem has intensified in the past few weeks. The reported death of a teenager near the West Bank town of Bethlehem was the latest in a series of incidents.

. Bethlehem, Palestinian Territories. Reuters/Mussa Qawasma

A hospital in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem said a 13-year-old boy identified as Abdel-Rahman Abeidallah of the nearby al-Aidah refugee camp died of a bullet wound to the heart.

Palestinians prayed next to the body in a hospital morgue. Abeidallah was killed in a clash with Israeli soldiers near Bethlehem, a Palestinian hospital source said. The Israeli military said it had no specific information.

. Jerusalem. Reuters/Ronen Zvulun
Friends and relatives carry the body of Aharon Bennett during his funeral in Jerusalem.

A Palestinian man stabbed and killed two Israelis in Jerusalem's Old City on Saturday before police shot him dead. Four Israelis have been killed and three wounded since the start of October.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his security cabinet to authorise harsher measures to tackle the rising violence in East Jerusalem, which includes the walled Old City, and the West Bank, areas that Israel captured in a 1967 war.

. Jerusalem. Reuters/Ammar Awad

He said four more army battalions had been deployed in the West Bank and thousands of police had been stationed in Jerusalem.

Two Palestinians, one of them a teen, have been killed and about 170 injured in clashes with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank since Sunday.

. Jabel Mukaber, Palestinian Territories. Reuters/Ammar Awad

Israeli forces destroyed the homes of two Palestinian militants and sealed off part of a third in Jerusalem.

"We will demolish terrorists' homes. We are allowing our forces to take strong action against those who throw rocks and fire bombs," Netanyahu said in broadcast remarks.

. Jerusalem. Reuters/Ronen Zvulun

But settlers and right-wingers were unimpressed and thousands protested near Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem to decry the government's "lack of resolve" in fighting Palestinian attacks and ensuring their safety.

In Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri, the spokesman for Islamist Hamas, which runs the coastal enclave, said Israel's harsher measures would not manage "to switch off the protests".

. Jerusalem. Reuters/Ammar Awad

Tensions have been inflamed in particular by frequent clashes between Palestinian stone-throwers and Israeli security forces at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound, one of Islam's holiest sites.

Palestinians have said they fear increasing visits by Jewish groups to al-Aqsa, revered by Jews as the site of biblical temples, are eroding Muslim religious control there.

. Jerusalem, Israel. Reuters/Amir Cohen