Hundreds riot throughout West Bank after Friday prayers

Four Palestinians lightly injured in various clashes with security forces; Temple Mount prayers end without incident

Israeli soldiers clash with Palestinian protesters near the West Bank city of Ramallah, November 18, 2014 (Photo credit: Majdi Mohammed/AP)
Israeli soldiers clash with Palestinian protesters near the West Bank city of Ramallah, November 18, 2014 (Photo credit: Majdi Mohammed/AP)

Several riots were reported throughout the West Bank Friday afternoon following weekly sermons.

Around 350 Palestinians demonstrated in Hebron, Israel Radio reported. Rioters were hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at police, who were responding with non-lethal means to disperse the protesters.

Another hundred people were demonstrating and assaulting security forces near Nablus, where soldiers were using rubber bullets and other means to quell the mob. Three Palestinians were lightly injured there and evacuated to hospital in Nablus.

In Kalandiya, north of Jerusalem, several dozen Palestinians were rioting. One man was said lightly injured by a rubber bullet fired by security forces.

Small riots of several dozen protesters were also reported in two locations near Ramallah and another near Qalqilya.

Prayers in the Temple Mount ended peacefully, with around 40,000 Muslim worshipers attending the weekly sermon, Israel Radio reported.

Israeli police had said earlier that they would not bar young Muslim worshipers from Friday prayers at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque, despite a week of spiraling violence in the city including a Palestinian terror attack on a synagogue.

It was the second week running that the restrictions were lifted at the flashpoint Temple Mount compound after months of limited entry.

“So far, restrictions on entry of worshippers will not be imposed,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement late Thursday.

Israel eased restrictions at Temple Mount last week after US Secretary of State John Kerry announced agreement on steps to reduce tensions in talks in neighboring Jordan, which has custodial rights at the compound.

The site, which is holy to Jews as well as Muslims, has been the focus of months of unrest in East Jerusalem, that has spread to the West Bank and Arab communities across Israel, and raised fears of a new Palestinian uprising.

Clashes at the compound are usually led by younger Palestinian men, some of whom earlier this month hurled rocks and firecrackers at police who entered the compound and chased them to the entrance of the mosque.

In recent weeks, police have tried to preempt unrest by limiting male entry to those over 35 and in the past have barred those under 50.

Police said Thursday they had arrested five Arab-Israelis on suspicion of smuggling into Israel thousands of fireworks, knives and other weapons destined for Palestinians in east Jerusalem.

They said that two containers which arrived by sea from China were marked “Christmas decorations” for delivery to the Beit Hanina neighborhood.

On Tuesday, two Palestinian cousins from East Jerusalem stormed into a synagogue in west Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood, armed with a gun and axes. They killed four Jews at prayer and a Druze traffic cop who tried to stop them before they were shot dead.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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