Hundreds of Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli soldiers Friday in the powder keg West Bank city of Hebron on the anniversary of a 1994 massacre carried out by a far-right Jewish settler.
Protesters threw shoes at a banner depicting US President Donald Trump in protest of his Mideast policies.
Issa Amro, a Palestinian activist, said “we disrespect this president who doesn’t see us as equal human beings with everyone.”
Trump is unpopular among Palestinians because the new president has broken from his predecessor and adopted friendlier positions to the Israeli government, including a vague stance on Palestinian statehood and a more lenient approach to settlements.
Palestinians have stepped up calls for the Israeli army to re-open a street near the Jewish settler enclave in the heart of the city that has been largely closed off to Palestinians for the past 23 years since the massacre.
Friday’s protest in biblical Hebron was part of several planned to mark the 1994 killing of Palestinian worshipers in the city by a Jewish extremist. On February 25, 1994, settler Baruch Goldstein mowed down 29 Palestinians inside Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs, holy to Muslims and Jews alike, before being lynched.
The site is known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs and to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque.
Soldiers fired tear gas and sound grenades to disperse the crowd as cannons doused them with stinking water, an AFP correspondent said. There was no immediate report of injuries.
Jewish settlers, of whom 500 live in the center of the city of around 200,000 Palestinians, hurled stones at the protesters. The army said it wasn’t familiar with any clashes between settlers and Palestinians.
Hebron has been at the center of a wave of Palestinian terrorism and violence since October 2015. Thirty-six Israelis, two US nationals, a Jordanian, an Eritrean and a Sudanese have been killed in stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks. Over 250 Palestinians have been killed, most of them in the course of carrying out attacks, Israel says, and many of the others in clashes with troops in the West Bank and at the Gaza border.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.