Palestinian Shot Dead by Israeli Guard in East Jerusalem, Sparking Riots

Dozens of Silwan residents hurl rocks at police forces stationed at the scene; one policeman lightly wounded.

 An Israeli security guard shot and killed a Palestinian on Wednesday in the East Jerusalem district of Silwan, an area that sees frequent tensions over its settler enclave, local residents and Israeli police said.

 The guard shot the 32-year-old man while driving through Silwan before dawn, a police spokesman said, adding he told investigators he had opened fire after his car was blocked and stoned by dozens of Palestinians.

Michal Fattal

A Jewish doctor living in the nearby town David was called to the site of the shooting to treat the wounded Palestinian man, who was lying some 30 meters away from the main road, but he already had no pulse.

The security guard told police that he was driving through the town alone and stopped at a gas station, despite the guidelines which forbid stopping in the local stations. He said he feared that he would be abducted after several Palestinians blocked his car and shot several times in their direction.

Local residents said the Israeli worked as a guard for the small Jewish settlement in Silwan, and that at least two other Palestinians were wounded in the shooting.

Peace Now organization issued a statement in response to the incident calling to remove the security in East Jerusalem from private companies and place official security personnel in the area.

"Settlers erected, with state funding, a private and armed militia in Silwan which terrorizes and harms the fabric of life and the security in the are," the state said.

The guard was taken away by police for questioning, police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told the German Press Agency DPA. According to Rosenfeld, the victim had a criminal record, and had previously been involved in rioting in the neighbourhood.

Silwan, located right below the southern section of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, is a focus of tension between around 300 Israeli settlers, who moved into the neighbourhood, and approximately 55,000 Palestinian residents.

Israel captured East Jerusalem along with the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War and regards all of the city as its capital, a status not recognized internationally. Many settlers claim a Jewish biblical birthright to the occupied territory.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of the state they intend to establish in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a demand at the heart of U.S.-sponsored peace talks with Israel which resumed this month.

Palestinians torched cars and threw stones and firebombs at Israeli police in Silwan last month after residents reported that settlers had tried to cross a mosque courtyard to reach an ancient spring where religious Jews conduct ritual ablutions.