IDF accuses Palestinians of using ambulance as shield for rock throwing

Photographs released by military show two youths standing behind vehicle as they apparently lob stones at security forces

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

A Palestinian rock thrower apparently uses an ambulance as a shield during a violent demonstration in Ramallah on December 9, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)
A Palestinian rock thrower apparently uses an ambulance as a shield during a violent demonstration in Ramallah on December 9, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces accused Palestinian protesters of using an ambulance as a human shield during a violent demonstration in Ramallah on Saturday.

According to the military, the Palestinian rioters hid behind the ambulance as they believed it would prevent the soldiers from retaliating.

“The rioters knew that security forces in the field would not employ riot dispersal tactics against an ambulance, and they used it to harm the forces while shielding themselves,” the army said in a statement.

Photographs released by the military showed Palestinians on at least two occasions throwing rocks while standing behind an ambulance. The Times of Israel could not independently verify where and when the pictures were taken.

A Palestinian rock thrower apparently uses an ambulance as a shield during a violent demonstration in Ramallah on December 9, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)

On Saturday, hundreds of Palestinians took part in violent protests across the West Bank, in a substantial decrease from the thousands that rioted the day before over the decision last week by US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Some 600 Palestinian demonstrators at 20 flashpoints in the West Bank threw Molotov cocktails and rocks at Israeli troops, and also set tires on fire and rolled them at soldiers, who responded with riot dispersal weapons such as tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets, the army said.

Six Palestinians were arrested in the West Bank, and six were lightly wounded in the clashes, the IDF added.

In East Jerusalem, Israeli police said at least 13 Palestinians were arrested for throwing stones and other objects at officers during clashes. Police also said that four officers were lightly injured Saturday afternoon during separate clashes in the East Jerusalem Salah Ad Din neighborhood outside of the Old City. The officers were all transferred to nearby hospitals for treatment.

In the Gaza Strip, approximately 450 Palestinians gathered and protested at eight locations along the security fence with Israel on Saturday, the army said.

During the violent demonstration, one Palestinian crossed the fence into Israel. He was arrested by Israeli troops and taken in for questioning, the army said. There as well, demonstrators threw rocks at troops. They also rolled burning tires at the fence itself.

A Border Police sniper takes aim across the Gaza border toward demonstrations along the security fence, on December 9, 2017. (Israel Police)

The troops, coming from both the Israel Defense Forces and Border Police, responded mostly with riot dispersal weapons, but also used live rounds against “two of the main instigators, and hits were confirmed,” the army said.

In northern Israel, three people were treated for light injuries after Arab protesters in the Wadi Ara area threw stones at an Egged bus traveling on Route 65 near the town of Ar’ara. The driver of the bus and two passengers received medical attention on site. Police said they arrested two people from the town for rioting.

A bus window is shattered by a rock thrown by Arab Israeli protesters in the northern city of Wadi Ara on December 9, 2017. (Magen David Adom)

In southern Israel too, some 100 people protested in the Bedouin town of Rahat. There were no reports of violence.

In a White House speech on Wednesday, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.

The move was hailed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum.

Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.

But Palestinians called for “days of rage” on Friday and Saturday and protests were held across much of the Muslim world as well as in some European capitals.

Police find a rocket, fired from Gaza, inside a kindergarten in the southern Israeli town of Sderot on December 9, 2017. (Israel Police)

Palestinian terror group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and seeks to destroy Israel, has called for a new intifada, urged Palestinians to confront Israeli soldiers and settlers, and vowed to continue violence until the liberation of Jerusalem.

Gaza-based terror groups fired rockets at Israel on Friday, with two landing in the southern town of Sderot, one of them in a kindergarten; Israel responded with air strikes on Hamas targets. On Saturday, the Hamas-run health ministry said two Hamas gunmen were killed in one of the strikes on a Hamas facility in Nusseirat in the central Gaza Strip.

The rockets that hit Sderot caused minor damage and no injuries.

Times of Israel staff and Agencies contributed to this report.

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