Palestinian youths throw stones at Israeli military vehicle in East Jerusalem
Palestinian youths throw stones at Israeli military vehicle in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem, in May 2010. Photo by Archive
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Palestinian protesters and Border Police officers engaged in heavy clashes on Sunday near a Jewish enclave in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, leaving dozens of Palestinians - including children and at least one pregnant woman - suffering from tear gas inhalation, Palestinian sources said. The police said six Border Police officers were hurt by stones thrown by the protesters.

It was not immediately clear if Israeli forces used live fire or assaulted Palestinian residents, as some Palestinians said. Left-wing activist Amiel Vardi said he had been told that three people had been wounded by Israeli fire.

The Jerusalem police said they were not aware of any Palestinian casualties.

The clashes began with a fracas between some 150 protesters and the settlers' security guards, according to Palestinian sources, and spiraled into an exchange of lobbing stones on the part of the demonstrators.

The Israeli forces dispersed tear gas and fired stun grenades to disperse protesters, who were throwing firebombs at an apartment building inhabited by Jews.

The confrontation took place near Beit Yonatan, a seven-story home for several Jewish families that was built illegally in a predominantly Arab neighborhood. Several other hot spots are in the same area: Beit Hadvash, another home for Jewish families in Silwan, and a Yemenite synagogue from the pre-state era where four Arab families are living.

Protests in the neighborhood have been a regular event in recent months, but stepped up last week after Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat approved the demolition of 22 illegally built Arab homes in the neighborhood to make room for a tourist park.