11 Israeli Activists Arrested After Protest at Home of U.S. Ambassador

Demonstrators were protesting death of 36-year-old Palestinian woman, who inhaled tear gas at a rally against the West Bank fence on Friday.

Israel Police early Sunday arrested 11 pro-Palestinian activists taking part in a protest outside the home of U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham, north of Tel Aviv.

The activists were protesting the death of a Palestinian woman who had participated in a demonstration Friday against Israel's West Bank separation fence. Jawaher Abu Rahmah, 36, died in a Ramallah hospital Saturday, after inhaling tear gas during the protest in the village of Bil'in, north-west of Jerusalem.

Bil'in protest August 2010 AP

Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld called the protest a disturbance of the peace and said the activists threw an empty tear gas canister and a chain toward the ambassador's residence.

Cunningham's residence is in Herzliya; the American embassy is in Tel Aviv.

Almost two years ago, Abu Rahmah's brother, Bassem, was killed during a similar protest in Bil'in. Another brother, Ashraf, was shot and wounded in 2008, during another demonstration against the barrier, in the village of Na'alin.

Every Friday, local Palestinians and left-wing Israeli and foreign activists protest against the barrier, which cuts off land from Bil'in and several other villages.

The Israeli army charges that the protests are violent and the activists hurl stones at security forces and often try to damage the security fence.

The protesters accuse the Israeli military of acting in a heavy-handed manner against them.

The military has released photographs of Palestinians using slingshots to hurl rocks at the security forces, which it alleged proved the Bil'in protest was violent.

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists also demonstrated late Saturday outside the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv against Abu Rahmah's death. Eight protestors were arrested.

Israel began building its controversial security barrier in 2002, following a spate of suicide bombings in its cities. Palestinians however say the barrier is part of an Israeli "land grab", since in places it snakes deep into the West Bank to include scores of settlements.