Silwan riot Emil Salman Jan. 7, 2011
A broken window is seen in the home an Arab family in Silwan, after violent clashes between local residents and IDF forces, Jan. 7, 2011. Photo by Emil Salman
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Violence erupted on Friday night in the East Jerusalem village of Silwan, between Palestinian residents and Israeli law enforcement officers, and continued for several hours.

In the clashes, some ammunition belonging to the police was abandoned, and apparently retrieved by Palestinian youths. Reinforcements arrived to reacquire the ammunition, resulting in injuries and arrests.

According to Palestinian sources, the incident began when a number of Border Police officers trying to enter a home in the village to reach the defensive position on its roof assaulted an elderly woman who resisted their entry.

Masked youths began throwing rocks at the Border Police officers on the roof, who left the position when the volley of stones intensified. In their haste to leave, they left behind an ordnance box containing not live ammunition but rather crowd control equipment.

According to one report the officers left an M16 rifle in the exposed roof position.

Jerusalem Police soon realized that the crate was missing, and sent a large contingent of forces to the area, with helicopter support.

Palestinians say that police officers forced their way into their homes and beat many residents. They said the officers caused a great deal of property damage, confiscated property and arrested nine neighborhood residents.

The Palestinians also claim the police continued using force against the detainees after the arrests, in the police holding cells. Most of those arrested were later released.

Several Palestinians were admitted to area hospitals. The ammunition box was not recovered.

Police maintain that the violence began with an unprovoked attack by Palestinian youth, first on the Border Police position and then on Beit Yonatan, an apartment building in the heart of the neighborhood where Jewish settlers live. Police say that they were only responding to the violence of the youth.

Police confirmed that nine arrests were made and said more are anticipated. For months Palestinian neighborhood activists, aided by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and attorney Leah Tsemel, have been fighting against what they say is an unlawful police position on the roof of a village home.

On several occasions police officers have been forced to abandon the post, but return soon after.

Police officials maintain that the position is needed to protect officers in the area and to prevent the need to use firearms while policing Silwan.