Border Policeman hurt in clashes near Hebron

Border Policeman hurt in clashes near Hebron

Disturbances reported in several areas in West Bank; Temple Mount prayers end without incident

Palestinian rioters throw stones during clashes with Israeli soldiers in the West bank town of Hebron, on November 21, 2014. (Photo credit: Ibrahim Hmouz/Flash90)
Palestinian rioters throw stones during clashes with Israeli soldiers in the West bank town of Hebron, on November 21, 2014. (Photo credit: Ibrahim Hmouz/Flash90)

A Border Policeman was lightly hurt in clashes with Palestinian rioters at a checkpoint near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron on Friday afternoon.

Several dozen Palestinians in the area threw stones at security forces, who responded with riot dispersal means. No additional injuries were reported.

At the Qalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah, Palestinian medics said three people were injured in clashes with the IDF.

Small-scale disturbances were also reported in the Palestinian villages of Beitunia, west of Ramallah, Burin, near Nablus and Anata, on Jerusalem’s northeast municipal boundary.

Earlier Friday, Muslim prayers on the Temple Mount ended without incident after police boosted their presence in Jerusalem, having braced for a harsh Palestinian response to the death of a senior Palestinian official in a clash with Israeli troops on Wednesday.

In a bid to calm tensions, Israel allowed Muslim worshipers of all ages to enter the Temple Mount’s al-Aqsa Mosque.

Though the practice of augmenting security on Fridays has become routine over the past months, as Jewish-Arab tensions have flared in the capital as well as in the West Bank, fears of violence were exacerbated by the death of Ziad Abu Ein.

Abu Ein — who headed the Palestinian Authority government agency that lobbies against the security barrier and settlements — died Wednesday morning on the way to a Ramallah hospital after being involved in a scuffle with Israeli troops near Turmusaya, south of the Shiloh settlement in the northern West Bank.

Israeli officials have said a postmortem — attended by Palestinian and Jordanian physicians — showed Abu Ein died of a heart attack, possibly caused by the stress of the situation as well as a preexisting heart condition. Palestinians have disputed this claim, saying he died after being struck by soldiers and inhaling tear gas.

Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator in collapsed peace talks with Israel, said Thursday the Palestinian Authority would freeze security cooperation with Israel in the wake of Abu Ein’s death.

The PA also issued a letter of complaint Wednesday to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, calling the official’s death “murder,” and appealed to the Security Council to publicly condemn the incident.

Abu Ein, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, was extradited from the US to Israel in 1981 for his role in orchestrating a terrorist bombing two years earlier that killed two Israeli teens. He was released during a 1985 prisoner swap that saw the release of three Israel Defense Forces soldiers captured in Lebanon. He also served as deputy minister for prisoner affairs.

The US, UK, UN and EU all called for a swift, transparent investigation into the Wednesday incident.

A PA leadership meeting to decide on a diplomatic response to the incident, which was initially planned for Friday, has been postponed to Sunday, to allow more time for deliberations.

Israel has urged calm, with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon expressing regret for the death and saying a military inquiry had been launched.

“Security stability is important for both sides,” he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a message through one of his aides to Abbas, in which he “pointed to the need to calm the situation and act responsibly,” his office said.

In the absence of talks, the Palestinians are pushing a UN Security Council resolution, which they hope will pass by the end of the year, giving Israel two years to withdraw from all territory captured in the 1967 war in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

If the United States vetoes it, as expected, the Palestinian leadership says it will then move to sue Israel through the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes.

AFP and Avi Issacharoff contributed to this report.

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