A string of violent incidents were reported Friday in the wake of an arson attack that killed an 18-month-old Palestinian in the West Bank overnight. Riots in Jerusalem and Hebron were reported as the victim of the deadly attack, Ali Saad Daobasa, was laid to rest in his home village of Dama.
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Six Palestinians were lightly injured in clashes with Israeli security forces, according to military reports. A Palestinian sustained a gunshot wound to the leg during violent protests in Hebron, and four Palestinians were injured when IDF soldiers fired tear gas and Ruger bullets at around 30 Palestinian stone-throwers in the southern West Bank city of Halhul. Another Palestinian was wounded by Ruger bullets in Kfar Kadum in the West Bank.
In Jerusalem, firebombs and stones were reportedly thrown in Jerusalem's Old City, wounding one Israeli officer lightly. Massive police forces have been stationed in the area and restrictions placed on Muslim worshippers on the Temple Mount. Scores of masked Palestinian youths also rioted in East Jerusalem's Issawiya neighborhood, throwing stones and firebombs at security forces, who responded with tear gas.
There was also a report of gunshots fired from a passing car at another vehicle near the West Bank settlement of Kochav Hashahar, north of Jerusalem. No injuries were reported. The Israel Defense Forces said that three bullet marks were found on the vehicle.
Riots were also reported in the West Bank city of Hebron, where approximately 200 Palestinians gathered to protest the arson attack. Rocks and firebombs were thrown at Israeli security forces, who responded by firing tear gas and .22 caliber bullets. A Palestinian sustained a gunshot wound to the leg.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon called on residents of the West Bank to demonstrate restraint, and the IDF declared a special state of state of alert in the West Bank, which includes prohibiting Palestinian workers from entering Israel.
Earlier Friday, the Israeli army expressed fear that the murder of the Palestinian toddler was liable to "ignite or awaken all kinds of places" on the West Bank. Fear of rioting and disorder at Temple Mount in Jerusalem prompted restrictions on Muslim worshippers, with only those over the age of 50 permitted to enter the Al Aqsa Mosque.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot was conducting a special situation assessment along with Shin Bet security services chief Yoram Cohen and with the participation of head of Central Command Maj. Gen. Roni Numa and others Friday.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that Israel Police were preparing to deal with further unrest and noted that Friday was a "very tense and sensitive day." He urged all sides to act with restraint.
The violent incidents follow the deadly arson attack on Thursday night, when masked men set fire to two houses in the West Bank village of Doma. One house was empty, but the other contained a family: Ali Saad Doabasa, who was killed in the attack, as well as his father, Saad, his mother, Reham, and four-year-old brother Ahmed. The mother and child were evacuated to the burn unit in the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, while the father was evacuated to the Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva.
Following the incident, it was decided to send four infantry battalions to the area to reinforce forces operating in the West Bank, including a battalion from the School for Infantry Corps Professions and Squad Commanders, which was already posted in the area prior to the evacuation of the Dreinoff buildings in Beit El. The IDF also decided to discontinue the training exercises of the Nahal and Givati brigades, and initially to send them back to their bases for fear of a conflagration on the West Bank. Maj. Gen. Numa visited the village Friday morning along with the head of the Civil Administration, Brig. Gen. David Menachem.
The IDF spokesman's unit said that the incident is defined as "Jewish terror," and that forces were sent in and are scouring the area for the perpetrators. IDF Spokesman Moti Almoz said that he does not recall "a serious incident of such dimensions in recent years, where a home was entered and set on fire - when you know the liable outcome." "We are doing everything possible in order to calm the area," claimed Almoz.
"The IDF is taking the incident very seriously. Four battalions, which constitute the immediate IDF preparedness force, and two brigades were placed on alert - because this incident could undermine security stability in Judea and Samaria," said the IDF spokesman. "The size of the forces that have been brought indicates how we perceive this serious incident. We think that such an incident could ignite or awaken all kinds of places in Judea and Samaria - certainly in areas of friction, which we will have to contain."