Israeli troops, Palestinians clash near Jerusalem
Four arrested in Beit Omer, including AP photographer; soldiers fire tear gas at Qalandiyah.
Israeli troops clashed with dozens of Palestinians at a checkpoint between the West Bank and Jerusalem, and four Palestinians were arrested amid mounting tensions in the holy city.
Palestinians threw stones and soldiers fired tear gas Saturday after dozens of Palestinian women marched toward the Qalandiyah checkpoint. They scuffled with Israeli troops and were repelled by tear gas. Palestinian teens threw stones and a firebomb at the soldiers.
Security forces used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse demonstrators Saturday morning in Beit Omar, a village north of Hebron along Route 60. Demonstrators, including local villagers, Israelis and foreign activists, blocked the road for at least an hour. Four people were arrested, including an Associated Press photographer and one of the organizers of the demonstration.
In Jerusalem's old city, a group of Palestinian youth attempted to reach the al-Aqsa mosque, the flashpoint holy site in the walled Old City, despite the fact that police had on Friday barred Palestinians from crossing from the West Bank into Israel and Jerusalem, and barred men under 50 from entering the mosque. Four Palestinians were arrested out of the group trying to enter the Old city.
On Friday, in East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrakh neighborhood, police arrested eight leftwing activists demonstrating against Jewish construction there.
The detentions sparked fury among protesters, some of whom told Haaretz that the arrests were unlawful. Police has discriminated against the 100-odd leftists who took part in the march, at the same time allowing a rightwing counter-demonstration to continue unimpeded, they claimed.
Palestinian sources, meanwhile, reported that at least 15 Palestinians were injured in demonstrations in the West Bank villages of Bil'in, Na'alim and Dir Nizam, according to an Army Radio report.
Earlier Friday, four Palestinians were detained on suspicion of throwing stones and two officers were slightly injured in clashes in Jerusalem's old city, a police spokesman said. At least one protester was treated by medics.
As hundreds of youths streamed away from noon prayers at a mosque in the district of Ras al-Amud, men hurled stones at a car carrying Orthodox Jewish children. One rock smashed a side window, but there were no obvious injuries, Reuters reported.
Israel's closure of the West bank, which authorities say is aimed at preventing a repeat of violent clashes last week in which dozens were injured, is set to last until Sunday.
In the Gaza Strip Islamists rallied supporters to protest at Israel's policies in Jerusalem: "We will redeem al-Aqsa mosque with our souls and our blood," the crowd chanted.
As demonstrators burned U.S. and Israeli flags, Khalil al-Hayya, a leader of the Hamas movement which rules Gaza, urged Hamas's rival, West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, to reverse his decision to engage in "proximity talks" with Israel through U.S. mediators after a hiatus of 15 months.
"These direct and indirect negotiations provide a cover to the Zionist aggression against our people and our lands," Hayya told the crowd. "Our angry people now are calling on the Palestinian negotiator to back off from these negotiations which encourage more settlements and the Judaisation of Jerusalem."